Academic Transitions: Cohort program



“Cohort” is one of the most exciting and innovative features of the Academic Transitions (AT) program!

Through the Cohort program, students develop important personal, social, and academic skills that are necessary for success at the university level.

Since this program is so effective at helping students to develop these skills, all AT students are required to successfully complete the Cohort program.

What is a cohort? Who is included in each cohort?

A “cohort” is a small group.

In Academic Transitions, students are placed in groups of 8-10 students, along with an instructor and a peer mentor.

Instructors teach the Cohort course meetings. They also serve as a personal advisor to help students make and set goals, identify areas of personal development, and connect to resources at the ELI and at UD.

Peer mentors are students that are currently enrolled at the University of Delaware. They have high GPAs, excellent leadership skills, and great interest in connecting with international students. Peer mentors help students engage socially, academically, and culturally on campus.

Members of each cohort stay together through the entire duration of the Cohort program; this enables cohort members to become sources of support for each other while preparing for university.


The purpose of Cohort is:

  • To help students succeed academically, socially and culturally at the university level
  • To ensure that the linguistic, academic and cross-cultural skills that are developed at the ELI will continue to be used by the students throughout their entire academic career
  • To help students develop strong bonds of trust among fellow cohort members
  • To provide a more seamless transition to full-time university life

All conditionally-admitted students are required to complete the Cohort program.

How does Cohort work?

The Cohort program lasts 4 sessions. Students begin taking Cohort when they enter Academic Transitions 1 (AT1).

Cohort was designed to help international students to succeed academically, socially and culturally at the university level.

The curriculum integrates lessons from the University’s First Year Seminar courses (a required course for all freshman students at UD), along with study skills, communication skills and social to help them to thrive in a college environment.

Students who successfully complete Cohort may be eligible for First Year Seminar credit once they begin full-time university studies.

Traits of the successful Cohort student

Students who successfully complete the Cohort program develop several important characteristics.

Personal responsibility

Cohort students learn how to manage their work and make wise decisions about how they manage their time.

Academic engagement

Cohort students learn and practice ways to access their instructors, academic resources, and academic advisors to support their success as a student in the ELI and at the university level.

They also learn about the characteristics of American university classrooms, including their role and responsibilities in them.

Community engagement

Students learn how to socialize with American peers on campus and how to connect to classmates and friends in social and academic settings. They also learn where and how to access social and cultural activities on campus.

In addition, Cohort students learn about American culture, as well as the diversity within the culture. This helps them to make friends and to better engage in campus life.

Effective communication skills

In Cohort, students learn how to communicate in person, in groups, and by phone/email with peers and instructors in both social and academic settings.

University awareness

Students learn university policies about academic honesty, social media and internet use, and the University of Delaware’s code of conduct.

They also learn about undergraduate degree requirements, grading policies (e.g., GPA, pass/fail) and registration policies (e.g., “drop/add”).

This information helps students to be prepared to meet with their future university advisor and to understand the course registration process after finishing Academic Transitions.

How does Cohort help students?

Outcomes graphic

The University of Delaware wants to lead the nation in making our students’ college experience successful, happy, and transformative. To this end, the Cohort program helps students to:

  • Develop study skills well-suited to US higher education;
  • Participate actively in college classrooms and in campus life;
  • Develop academic thinking skills;
  • Become extensive readers;
  • Work closely with advisors to chart their path to successfully completing their degree;
  • Understand the meaning and importance of academic honesty; and
  • Avoid culture shock and homesickness.

By learning these skills, conditionally-admitted international students can overcome obstacles to academic and social success while studying at the university level.

Duration and completion requirements

Students enter the Cohort program in AT1 (ARSC 150). All AT students are required to take Cohort and complete 4 sessions (8 months).

To complete the program, they must earn a final cumulative score of 83% (B).

The Cohort retreat

Developing strong bonds between members of each cohort is of critical importance for this program. In order to help the students to begin that process, the ELI organizes an initial weekend getaway (i.e., a retreat) during the students’ first session of study.

The retreat focuses on team-building activities, helping the members of the cohort to get to know each other and to learn to support and encourage one another.

We invite you to watch our video to learn more about the Cohort Weekend Retreat!

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