Why Choose a Pathway Program
Pathway programs are preparatory courses that are designed to help international students build the skills, knowledge, and qualifications that they will need to enter a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. These programs generally last one academic year, and they do not end with a degree.
There are a number of reasons that international students might choose to attend a pathway program in the US. Some of the most common draws of pathway programs include:
Building the necessary language skills
International students who study in the US are required to have a certain level of proficiency in the English language. These levels are determined by standardized tests such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language, or TOEFL. Students who do not achieve a certain score on these tests will not be accepted to study at a US college or university. However, pathway programs provide an opportunity for international students to study English while studying in the US, so if your English skills are not yet strong enough to pass the TOEFL, pathway programs are a good option for you. In addition, pathway programs teach English with a special emphasis on the academic language that students studying in the US will use in their classes.
More time to choose a major
Maybe you know you want to study in the US, but you’re not sure what subject you want to study yet. Or maybe you have a long list of interests, and aren’t sure how to choose between them. Pathway programs in the US allow international students the chance to take a year to try different study courses. This will give you a better idea of what you want to study when you enter college or university.
Better chance of undergraduate admission
Most colleges and universities that offer pathway programs for international students also offer conditional admission into the school after completion of the program. This means that international students who complete their pathway program with a certain GPA are automatically accepted into the main college or university.
If you are considering a pathway program, it’s important to research the admissions policy for each individual institution. Not all colleges and universities guarantee admittance after the pathway program; some offer personal college admissions advising, instead.
The chance to adjust to US culture
One of the greatest benefits to pathway programs in the US is the opportunity to learn alongside fellow international students as you all adjust to studying in the US. In many other countries, higher education takes place entirely in the lecture. Students listen and take notes, and very rarely engage in dialogue. In the US, things are a bit different. College students in the US are expected and encouraged to take part in discussions and debates about the material. In fact, many instructors require participation, and factor each individual’s participation into their overall grade. Instructors in pathway programs understand that in addition to language skills, international students also need to learn about American campus culture and classroom culture.
Once you’ve decided that a pathway program is the right choice for you, the next step is to decide which pathway program to attend. We’ve put together some tips to help you choose the pathway program that best suits your needs.