ELI Insights: Setting Students Up for Success

By: Jackie Whitney, ADS Instructor

The transition from high school to college can be overwhelming for any student. Highly structured school days give way to a few hours of classes each day. Scheduled study halls are replaced with tables scattered through cafes and group study room reservations in the library. Keeping track of professors’ office locations and hours almost feels like it requires a spreadsheet. Perhaps most challenging of all, the entire learning environment has been moved online due to a global pandemic that has impacted every aspect of life. Fortunately, ELI teachers have years of experience helping students make this transition from high school to American university life, and we are here to support you in reaching your academic goals in any educational setting.

You may have an idea of a smiling professor sitting in a cozy office with eclectic décor and framed credentials hanging on the wall, ready to welcome you in and guide you through managing the expectations of the course. Or perhaps you’re thinking of an efficient administrator who cares deeply for your success and is skilled in administering the tough love that wayward students sometimes need to get back on the right track. I assure you; both of these are abundant in the ELI buildings. However, you are sitting in your home and we are sitting in ours, connecting virtually through email and Zoom. What does this essential support look like in an online environment? 

Ample Virtual Office Hours

Office hours are a wonderful time for students and teachers to connect. Your instructors can help you understand assignments, practice specific language skills, or even work on time management strategies to help you navigate large projects. On average, ELI teachers have three scheduled office hours per week, the specific times of which can be found at the very top of the course syllabus. However, in addition to those hours, we are always happy to make appointments that suit our students’ schedules. Asking your professor to meet at two o’clock in the morning might not work, but many of us are more than happy to meet in the evening so that our students around the world don’t have to stay awake until dawn.

Daily Announcements

Another way that ELI teachers are supporting students in this online environment is through daily announcements that are sent through our learning management system, Canvas. Teachers send out a list of the day’s activities and homework assignments, complete with direct links to any assignments in Canvas. The best part about these announcements is that Canvas displays an alert on the website, sends out an email the moment that an announcement is posted, and can also send an alert to students’ cellphones. With three layers of notifications, it’s nearly impossible to miss important deadlines!

Dedicated Academic Advisors

Even with all the support that ELI teachers offer, sometimes students just need a little more guidance in order to reach their goals. That’s where the academic advising team comes in. If you ever feel like you’re not sure how to talk to your teacher about something, your academic advisor will happily help you prepare for tough conversations. When you have trouble seeing the path ahead, your advisor will be there to guide you through and prevent you from getting lost. You may only have your favorite teacher for eight weeks, but your academic advisor stays with you for the entire time that you study at the ELI, and rumor has it that they love when former students come back to visit after they have fully matriculated into the University of Delaware.

In short, while we may be unable to invite you into our campus offices, our home offices are always open to our students. Physical distance does not mean that we feel less dedicated to or concerned about our students. If anything, the strange conditions that have led us all to online education have made us even more sensitive to our students’ needs.

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