In summer 2020, Global Education & Training and the Intensive English Institute offered a summer enrichment course for Saudi Arabian students participating in the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) Gifted Student Program. Called, "Ready, Set, Undergrad," this course was geared toward KGSP students who completed a Foundation Year program at one of six host institutions in the United States, including Illinois. In the fall of 2020, they were enrolling as first-year students at prestigious U.S. colleges and universities.
Ready, Set, Undergrad was designed to have students work on researching and identifying specific resources they would utilize at their new universities in the fall, so they would be better prepared to "hit the ground running."
In this course, students reviewed and learned more about topics that were important for succeeding in their upcoming undergraduate experience. This course was divided into three general areas: Taking Care of Yourself, Campus Culture Basics, and Exploring Your New Campus.
Taking Care of Yourself
Students tackled the topic of how to deal with stress – especially in this time of COVID-19 – and how to manage their time and money well. They also learned about the importance of getting enough sleep and how to create a study environment that is best for them.
Campus Culture Basics
Students reviewed how to build good relationships with their professors through office hour visits and appropriate email requests, among other topics.
Exploring Your New Campus
Students had an opportunity to explore the campus where they will spend the next 4 years. They looked into topics, such as:
- What sport is most popular on campus?
- What kind of transportation is available?
- Where they can find tutoring?
- What student organizations they might join?
- What exercise facilities do they have access to?
Online Course Format
The course was conducted through synchronous live video conference classes. Students were expected to attend and participate in group discussion during all live sessions. Students completed assignments independently, outside of class. Videoconference classes were conducted using Zoom, with course management through Moodle.
Students engaged with the topics through a variety of digital activities, such as: writing emails, creating memes and/or short videos to post on social media or the class website, doing scavenger hunts on the website of the university they will be attending, and writing short reflections on selected topics for the class forum.
As a final project, students created a campus reference guide for themselves or other students in the form of a digital portfolio using Padlet.com, Piktochart.com or Thinglink.com.
Student portfolio examples:
Ready, Set, Undergrad was taught by Kristin Bouton, a senior instructor from the Intensive English Institute (IEI). Kristin has been teaching Illinois KAUST Foundation Year students with the IEI for the past 3 years. She began her career teaching English in Spain, where she taught English as a Foreign Language for 12 years. She holds a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
KGSP Student Feedback
These comments were received anonymously through course feedback submission. A majority of students (79 percent of those who completed course feedback) felt that the course was “useful” and helped them “prepare for college and life in the U.S.”
What students “liked” about the Ready, Set, Undergrad course:
“I wasn’t bored and overall made me more familiar with the challenges I’m going to face when transitioning to life at my university.”
“Variety of topics; importance of material; teacher was clear, kind, and well-informed.”
“The class was close, and people were not afraid to share their opinions.”
“I got new information that will help me in my undergraduate experience.”
“I honestly loved everything about it. It wasn’t stressful, and the environment was open and friendly. Kristin is very helpful and welcoming, and I will miss it. I also liked the fact that we were able to contribute through the breakout rooms and just being able to get involved.”