University success begins at ABP
18 Feb 2016 - 0:00
Doha: In the middle of its 15th year of service in Education City, Qatar Foundation’s Academic Bridge Program (ABP) has distinguished itself from other academic preparatory systems throughout the region and the world by employing a unique learner-centered pedagogical approach, developing an innovative curriculum, and providing outstanding student support services.
“We implement a variety of techniques and supportive strategies to provide the necessary assistance for the college application process,” said Dr. Marcie Linsey, ABP College Counselor, “This past year we had an exceptionally hard working and high achieving group of students, which helped facilitate our goal. Not only did almost 90% of the graduating class gain admission to universities around the world, but 53% of those students were offered admission to the Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) Partner Universities. It is important to remember that not all ABP students apply to HBKU Partner Universities, but 57 % of those who did apply were offered admission.”
Approximately 40% of matriculating students attend universities overseas, with a majority choosing to study in the United Kingdom. “The ABP has agreements with over 20 universities [overseas] to facilitate the admission of ABP graduates to university. These universities recognize the value of the experiences that students gain during their time at the ABP. The ABP is fortunate to have such strong support from such a diverse range of universities,” explains Dr. Mark Newmark, ABP Assistant Director for Academic Affairs.
While some view such statistics as the primary yardstick by which the ABP is measured, administrators and faculty members are quick to point out that getting into a university program is only the beginning of an ABP graduate’s academic journey.
“The Academic Bridge Program prepares students to be very successful at the university level,” said Dr. Bryan Lewallen, Director of the ABP. “Because of their ABP experience, our graduates are some of the top performers at their universities.”
Listening and speaking skills
For students who aspire to attend English language universities, improving listening and speaking skills are just as important as reading, writing, science, or math. All ABP classes are conducted entirely in English, including Biology, Chemistry, and Physics labs as well as Algebra, Calculus, and computer skills courses.
“Having graduated from a French high school, I needed a smooth transition from the French curriculum to an American one and the ABP was the perfect fit,” said Asmaa Benkermi, who graduated last year and now attends Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q). “It helped me become at ease with the English language and prepared me for undergraduate studies. It was a year filled with unforgettable lessons; I still cherish every moment spent there and I am grateful for being a part of the ABP community.”
Beyond academic abilities, successful university students must manage their time and workload in order to complete assignments, meet deadlines, and study efficiently and effectively.
“The teachers helped me to develop my time management skills, which are very important for college students,” said Abdulrahman Saleh al-Janahi, an ABP 2015 graduate who is currently enrolled at Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar. “ABP is a really good opportunity that makes a student able to cope with college level classes. I improved my academic knowledge and—since most university courses use modern online features—I also learned to better use current technology. I would really recommend all students to take that opportunity and increase their college success.”
Many graduates reported that the experience and confidence they received during their ABP experience was the difference between success and failure at the post-secondary level.
“Attending the Academic Bridge Program has helped in many ways to succeed in my first semester at Georgetown University, School of Foreign Services in Qatar,” said Aldana Al-Derbasti, a 2015 ABP graduate. “One of the important elements of my experience at ABP was how to get used to university life and cope with the workload and deadlines.
A number of ABP students take advantage of cross-registration, which allows them to take classes at a number of HBKU Partner Universities before they graduate. “Having the chance to cross-register with one of the prestigious universities in Education City helped me get exposed to a different community, earn extra credits, and engage with different people. So the Academic Bridge Program has helped me have a less-stressful first semester,” Al-Derbasti added.
Clearly, the ABP gives high school graduates a tremendous advantage when it comes to gaining admission to elite colleges and universities in the region and throughout the world. In addition, ABP graduates continue to praise the program for helping them adjust to university life faster, manage their time and course load better, and experience even greater success after entering their programs of study.
“My ABP experience helped me build a stronger foundation to my academic skills,” said Sara A Al-Khuzaei, a 2015 graduate who now attends Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar). Al-Khuzaei mentioned that the ABP composition classes helped her the most and that she’s applied most of the things she’s learned during her first semester at VCUQatar, “especially formatting an essay” and time management. “I do recommend that high school students enroll in the ABP if they are interested in crossing bridges to get into their desired university,” she concluded.
“I learned to be more consistent and work toward my goals,” said Reem Al-Emadi, a recent ABP graduate who is now a freshman at Carnegie-Mellon University in Qatar (CMU-Q). “I really improved my English and also learned how to socialize and present myself better.”
“At the ABP, I learned patience, self-reliance, and punctuality,” said Abdulrahman Alsuwaidi, a member of the Class of 2015 who now attends Qatar University (QU). “It made all the university tasks more manageable, and I'm stronger now than ever before. Thanks ABP.”
Dedicated faculty and staff, student support services and outstanding facilities are also important benefits of the ABP system that aid students in their research and their studies. Among these facilities is the Learning Resource Center (LRC), which hosts tutoring by ABP faculty members, an outstanding library, and dozens of computers for student use.
“Initially, it was extremely tiring as I suddenly had to write a 400-word English essay, knowing there could be another one or two assignments due the very same day,” reflected Qusai Akram Al-Awabdeh, who also graduated last year from the ABP and is now studying at Texas A&M at Qatar (TAMUQ). “Almost all of us adapted to this environment, and the ABP teachers were the most significant factor in our successes. They were very helpful, pleasant and, most importantly, experts in their fields.”
“While our current students make good use of the tutoring opportunities,” said Mr. Mutassim Awadallah, LRC Coordinator, “it is not unusual to see former students stop by with their university assignments. They know that they are always welcome for a friendly visit or to bring academic questions.”
“The ABP was a great source of encouragement and support towards my future. It helped me shape it and fill it with memories, it taught me things I didn't know and improved what I did know. The classes, clubs, and faculty members were a big source of that support and encouragement,” recounted Aisha Alkhater, another ABP alumna from the Class of 2015, who is currently studying Computer Engineering at HBKU.
“The Academic Bridge Program is like a big family,” said Dr. Lewallen. “Everyone works together—faculty, staff, and administrators—to provide incredible support for the young men and women enrolled in our program.”
“This year we are celebrating 15 years of ‘Bridging Success’,” Dr. Lewallen continued. Commenting on the extraordinary admissions statistics from last year, he added, “I can’t tell you how proud we are of our students, teachers, and staff, whose hard work was reflected in those impressive results!”