Article by Blythe Milbury-Steen | April 7, 2021
One of UD’s newest and most collaborative academic programs is Accelerate-U Delaware (A-UD), a direct admission program created by University of Delaware International Admissions and delivered by UD’s English Language Institute (ELI).
As A-UD academic advisor and program coordinator, I know I’m biased, but the program is unique in the unprecedented amount of support offered to help these students hit the ground running and start their all-important first semester of college strong. The solid foundation of a successful first semester has a lasting positive ripple effect: it will help students not only transition smoothly to college, but also maintain good grades throughout their college career, finish strong and graduate on time!
A-UD was designed for students whose language level is too advanced for a conditional admission program but below the threshold for direct admission without a supportive first semester program. This is a growing population: the program was piloted last fall and is running for only the second time this fall. Our current cohort tripled in size compared to our first cohort! Our current cohort also boasts increased diversity with students from China, S. Korea, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Argentina and Thailand.
Program Set Up
A-UD students are UD students earning UD course credits and degrees but benefiting from the ELI’s 40 years of excellence in training international students in academic English. Like all UD students, A-UD students take a full-time course load and typical freshmen classes, making regular major and degree progress. However, the difference is that A-UD students take courses delivered through the ELI with other international students (either other A-UD students or the most advanced students in the ELI’s successful Academic Transitions program, a conditional admission program). Why such a set up? A-UD courses have some unique features tailored to fostering international student success that give these students the boost they need to start off strong.
Subject Matter Experts with ESL Training
A-UD Course Instructors are subject matter experts specifically approved by their UD departments to teach A-UD courses. They benefit from ongoing support and professional development opportunities by ELI ESL experts to help them present material in a way that helps international students understand.
Although the ELI is currently operating in a virtual learning environment, courses are taught synchronously (live in real time with an instructor and students), rather than asynchronously (through recordings watched at the student’s convenience). This makes for a much more dynamic and interactive virtual experience.
A-UD class periods are also slightly longer than non-A-UD classes in order to give students a bit more time to master the material. The learning outcomes and expectations are identical to all other sections of the course, but students have more time with the topic, so are able to move at a slower pace to help them master it.
Small Class Size
The average course size is extremely small— classes are typically around 10 students and wouldn’t exceed 14! This offers students a lot of personal attention from their instructors and extensive individualized feedback to help them improve. For comparison, a mainstream UD class is considered small with 25 or 30 students!
Each class has a weekly discussion with an Instructional Assistant who helps the students with both course specifics and larger strategies for academic success. For example, in a discussion section, IAs help students review material from the course lectures, work on assignments or prepare for exams, and also give them tips on how to manage their time, and develop strong study habits.
To save the best for last, A-UD students benefit from not one but two academic advisors. As their A-UD advisor, I work with them closely in their first semester to help them understand their program, their schedule, classes and facilitate their transition to UD. This includes support in English language acquisition and acculturation.
They also have a major advisor who helps them select classes each semester and understands their progress in their major and their degree requirements. This advisor works with them throughout their 4 years at UD.
Unique Collaboration Across Campus
A-UD is a unique program to coordinate not only in the amount of support offered to students but also in the number of student offices and departments across the UD campus that all work together to provide this support. Professors in departments as varied as Physics, Business Administration, Art History, Communication, and Chemistry teach A-UD classes. In addition to International admissions, other offices like the ELI and UD Registrars, and numerous academic advisors in almost every UD college (and UD athletics) all also spring to mind as invaluable contributors to the continued success of the A-UD program!
After beginning their college career in the supportive environment of Accelerate-U Delaware for their first semester, students hit the ground running. They start strong, stay up to speed, and finish strong.