A Path to International Student Achievement

students in Intensive English Program class

NC State attracts bright students from around the world, and the Office of Global Engagement’s Intensive English Program (IEP) sets them up for academic and social success. Founded in 2011, the program provides high-quality English language instruction to non-native English speakers seeking academic preparation, professional development or personal enrichment.

IEP students develop academic, cultural and technological skills that prepare them for life in and out of the American classroom, and to compete in an increasingly global economy. Students in this full-time, noncredit program meet all of the academic requirements for admission to NC State, but need additional time to improve their English proficiency. They take a placement test upon arrival that determines whether they study at the intermediate, high-intermediate or low-advanced levels of instruction.

“Students participating in IEP dedicate themselves to preparing for campus life and studies by engaging in up to 25 hours per week in classes on writing and grammar, conversation and presentation skills, listening and note-taking, reading and vocabulary, and American life and university culture,” said Karin Sandler, IEP director. “But we go beyond just academic preparation — we’re there to help students when they feel homesick, need insight into navigating social situations or just need a listening ear.”

The IEP also employs NC State undergraduate students through a Student Mentor Program. Mentors attend activities with the students, participate in the program’s American Life and University Culture classes, and give advice about campus life.

Additionally, IEP collaborates with a range of university partners to help students acclimate to campus life. These include Student Health Services, the Counseling Center, Student Legal Services and more.

“In everything we do, we try to simulate what they’re going to experience when they get to campus, in terms of advising, technology in class, the system we use for academic tutoring and coaching, and social interactions,” said Sandler. “The goal is a seamless transition. We want them to leave our program confident and equipped with the skills necessary to achieve their goals.”

To further the mission and vision of IEP, a new program debuted this semester to give international students additional access points to NC State.

Three years in the making, NC State’s Pathway Program combines IEP courses and undergraduate credit courses. Students in select colleges earn academic credit while in the IEP and receive additional support and advising.

“Through the Pathway Program, students get a firsthand look at life on campus through taking a credit course, which will help the transition to full-time study,” said Sandler. “We also enrich our students’ experience by providing a companion one-hour support class to help students with any content or language-related issues they may face in their credit classes.”

Though the pilot Pathway Program is open only to returning IEP students, first-time IEP applicants may be able to enroll in the Pathway Program as early as this fall upon meeting specific eligibility requirements. Future offerings include a public speaking course, also with a companion one-hour language support class.

“We’re really excited about this initiative and how it will expand the reach of the IEP,” said Sandler. “NC State is a global university, and we’re truly living up to that reputation by giving IEP students a strong foundation for success.”