Why Pursue a Pathway Program in the US?

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Why Pursue a Pathway Program in the US?

If you are an international student looking to pursue a degree in the US, you might be intimidated by the high expectations placed on university students. Instead of dropping yourself into the college environment unprepared, you could elect to enroll in a pathway program to give you a head start. While you will not receive a degree after completing this year-long series of classes, you will be better prepared when you begin your degrees coursework. Here is a brief look at this useful program, and why you should consider enrolling in one at your chosen school in the US.

  • Who Would Benefit Most from a Pathway Program?

    While an undergraduate or graduate pathway program offers a low-cost way to transition into an American university environment, you should make sure you are an ideal candidate before enrolling. If you do not have the extra needs these programs are designed to meet, you will only be delaying the completion of your degree. Every student has his or her own unique circumstances, but there are some situations that generally make a student a good fit: Lower GPAs when compared with other international studentsDifficulty mastering a conversational level of English proficiencyA need for additional cultural, academic and language supportLow test scoresBelow-average study skills If you think a pathway program would be a good idea for your academic career, you should first find universities that specialize in your desired field of study and then determine if one of these programs is available. Don’t hesitate to reach out to the admissions department of each school and ask any questions before you start paying for expensive application fees.  

  • How Does a Pathway Program Work?

    Every school has its own standards for pathway programs, but you can generally expect the entire curriculum to last between three semesters and one year. From the very beginning, you will engage in intense English instruction designed to bring your fluency up to academic levels. You will also receive education on how to develop studying and other school-related skills until you reach the same level as other undergraduate or graduate students. Some university pathway programs also allow students to take credit-bearing courses in concurrence with the program’s other requirements. For a closer look at how some universities operate, take the University of San Diego as an example. When international students in need of extra assistance apply, the school’s English Language Academy (ELA) takes a look at standardized test scores and other information to determine proficiency. Based on this data, the ELA designs a pathway program tailored to the individual student’s needs. Representatives from the ELA monitor the student’s progress through various milestones as a means to ensure success.  

  • What Are the Benefits of These Programs?

    Now you know more about how pathway programs work, it is worth exploring the various benefits you could receive. Since the whole idea of the program is to make you a better college student, you can expect to see improvement in several key areas.

  • Additional Time to Choose Your Major

    The selection of a degree track is one of the biggest decisions any college student must make, and you do not want to rush into a choice. By enrolling in one of these pre-degree programs, you will have more time to think about what you would like to study for the remainder of your academic career. As you progress through this stepping stone program, don’t hesitate to talk with your other students about their plans for a field of study. Universities also have counseling services available to help point undergraduates and graduate students in the right direction. While the selection of a major is an important decision, it is also worth noting you will have the opportunity to make an adjustment at any point during your studies. A recent study by the Education Advisory Board shows students who change degrees in the later years of university studies are actually more likely to graduate when compared to those who declare majors in their first semester.

  • Help With Your Language Skills

    As a student at an American university, you will be expected to receive instruction and interact with your classmates in English. While this is not a problem for students who come from other English-speaking nations, non-native English speakers may find it difficult to catch up. For this reason, most colleges and universities require international candidates to demonstrate proficiency by passing standardized English tests. If you have not received the desired score on your English skills tests, a pathway program could help bring you up to speed. Each university has its own ways of administering these programs, but many include preparation courses for the TOEFL and other examinations. You will also receive specialized English instruction designed to emphasize the academic language used on college campuses.

  • Increased Chances for Admission

    For international students applying for undergraduate admissions, low standardized test scores do not necessarily have to be an automatic disqualification. Many universities offer conditional admission for foreign applicants, provided they complete a pathway program. Should you finish one of these programs with the desired GPA, you will likely receive automatic acceptance to your chosen school. Should you not have the ideal standardized test scores to merit direct admission, you should do some research to find out which of your desired universities has the most favorable pathway program. The idea is to make your transition into normal college life easier, not to throw roadblocks in your way. By carefully choosing between programs, you will be doing your part to set yourself up for long-term academic success.

  • Extra Time to Adapt to American Culture

    If you have lived your entire life in a foreign country, your first experiences as a student in America can be quite uncomfortable. Not only will everybody else be speaking a different language from your native tongue, the style of education can also be radically different from what you are used to. American college students are expected to participate in discussions in small groups in addition to learning in a lecture environment. As a participant in a pathway program, you will be able to make these initial adjustments before you take on the full burden of your degree requirements. While you will still need to continue adapting to your new culture during the remainder of your time in college, university pathway programs can act as effective stepping stones for those arriving from overseas for the first time.

  • Make Friends in Your New Environment

    For many students, college is the time when lifelong friendships are made, and you would not want to miss out on this essential part of the experience. As an international student, it can sometimes be difficult to forge relationship with other students since you might not have much in common. When you enroll in a pathway program, you will be progressing through the milestones with others who are in the same exact situation. This can help you forge bonds based on a common experience, which can also help to effectively shrink a large university campus down to a manageable size.

  • How to Apply to a Pathway Program

    When applying for a university’s pathway program, you should treat it as if you are making a standard application to be an undergraduate or graduate student. Keep up with your high school studies to ensure you have a track record of academic success that makes you desirable to your chosen university. It is worth keeping in mind that these programs are designed to prepare good students for the rigors of an American collegiate environment. They are not a way to compensate for poor performance in secondary school. You should also make sure you have done the appropriate paperwork to obtain a student visa. While this part of the process can be long and complicated, you must receive permission to reside in the US for the duration of your studies. When it is time for your interview with a representative from the American government, be honest and forthcoming with information and have transcripts and other documents to backup your claims. Once you have gone through the entire application process for your chosen school, the admissions department will determine your next steps. If you have received full admittance to the institution, you will not need to enroll in a pathway program. Should it be determined you require further assistance to bring you up to the level of a successful college student, you will likely be placed in one of these programs.

  • Apply Today

    The successful completion of an accredited university degree program can set you up for lifelong success in your career, so why not give yourself every possible advantage? If you have demonstrated an aptitude for learning, a low score on standardized English proficiency tests does not have to automatically disqualify you from admission. By applying to a school that offers a pathway program for international students, you will have that additional resource available to make your transition easier. Once you have completed the program’s requirements, you will be ready to progress with the rest of your classmates.

Levels Explained

  • Bachelor's

    A bachelor's degree (also called a first degree or undergraduate degree) is attained after receiving a post-secondary (high school) education and generally spans four years. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as bachelor or undergraduate students. A bachelor's degree is usually offered at an institution of higher education, such as a university.

  • Master's

    A master’s degree (or postgraduate or graduate education) involves learning and studying for academic or professional degrees. This degree is preceded by a bachelor’s degree and generally takes two years to complete. Students pursuing these types of degrees are commonly referred to as master's, or grad students.

  • Pathway

    Bachelor’s and master’s pathway programs are designed for international students who need additional English language and academic preparation before continuing to a degree program at a university. The purpose of these programs are to give students the confidence and skills needed to succeed in college.