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Mason’s Access Program: An Update

Mason’s Access Program: An Update

This is the odd time of year when I realize that summer is close to over, as far as my activities are concerned, with the usual regrets about its passing too quickly, and when I also begin to anticipate the excitement of a new academic year. As I’ve written before, when I stop feeling a bit of a surge, I’ll know it’s time to shift gears.

One of the good things on the horizon involves the expansion of the Access program. I’ll be teaching 40 Access students in my World History course, along with some regular students, and the program as a whole will have over 100 new admits. This will be the third year I’ve taught the mixed course, and it’s always been challenging and enjoyable.

The Access program admits international students who need a special year of experience in the American classroom style, and in further work in English, but who are good enough that, if successful, they can go on to regular undergraduate work with every chance of finishing in three more years. The program was not entirely original with us, but did flow from a realization that we were missing some opportunities in not realizing that many students would do better if language training was mixed with substantive coursework.

Our program started modestly enough, with about 25 students. But it has followed plan in expanding rapidly each year. A terrific staff and leadership team has been assembled, and the program has surpassed expectations in terms of rates of student success. The result obviously adds to the University’s global strength. Students in the program have a special experience simply working with so many colleagues from different places around the world, and (although we can always use more work here), the opportunities for American students to interact are an asset as well.

Above all, the program brings us students who, for the most part, work very hard and who take full advantage of the program’s resources. For me personally, the opportunity for additional perspectives in a world history framework is an asset not only for the class but for my own grasp of global issues. And it’s all only a month away.