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Drexel's English Language Center

  • Marc Vallone
Posted on May 26, 2020
Why Drexel

You will hear often that that a school is a good "fit" for students. Fit is a critical component of our job as admissions professionals — it ensures that a university can fully serve a student's academic needs and career goals while also supporting the mission and vision set forth by the institution. This mission can include a multitude of characteristics, but, ultimately, each school is looking to develop its community and host students who will contribute positively to the university.

Too often, particularly in international admissions, we see brilliant students who are ready, willing, and able to contribute to our University, but need extra language support. These students have tremendous drive and talents that remain untapped, and many of these students could pursue educational opportunities in the English Language Center at Drexel University. The English Language Center offers many different programs for all types of learners. While it sits on Drexel's campus, its offerings may include Drexel-affiliated coursework or classes that are unrelated to continuing university study.

For those who are looking to study for a bachelor's degree, students may choose or place into a conditional admission program. Two programs, International Gateway and UPREP, serve future Drexel Dragons in their initial steps as a university student.

The English Language Center offers many different programs for all types of learners.

International Gateway is a "first year only" program. Here, students who may have struggled on a standardized language assessment are given the chance to earn 21 credits that transfer directly into Drexel University upon successful completion of the program. Students can either choose to apply to this program outright or have their undergraduate application to Drexel recommended to this program by an admissions professional. Regardless of how students arrive at the doorstep of the International Gateway program, one thing is nearly assured: student success. Data shows that students who complete the International Gateway program have a higher completion success rate in their undergraduate studies than someone not taking the program.

UPREP is a conditional admission program that offers students five weeks of summer orientation with courses in three areas: English for Academic Purposes, Leadership and Student Development, and "The Drexel Experience." The first two are rather straightforward…these are classes that will improve academic language skills necessary to succeed in a U.S. university and will hone self-development and leadership potential. "The Drexel Experience" brings faculty and staff from different Drexel departments to help connect University resources to students. These classes create a constellation of resources, helping students transition from the summer into the fall term smoothly.

There are also classes and programs available that are not affiliated with studying for a bachelor's program! For example, The English Language Center has a version of UPREP for graduate students at Drexel. They also offer programs for International Teaching Assistants coming to work in the United States or simply the Intensive English Program designed for any person interested in sharpening their reading, writing, and oral skills in English.

These programs may also host some cultural components. Because the city of Philadelphia has so much to offer, students have opportunities to take their education beyond the traditional classroom. This might be my favorite part about opportunities in the ELC — students can leverage city resources to further enrich the learning process. For example, imagine learning different words related to foods and cooking styles, then being able to apply these lessons at restaurant venues in the city of Philadelphia!

Truly, the English Language Center has something for any student of any age who has a desire to strengthen their language skills. While some students might consider conditional admission options as barriers, most students who go through the International Gateway or UPREP appreciate the time and find value in the experience. Don't take my word for it…just listen to the voices of International Gateway students!


Marc Vallone is the Associate Director of International Admissions at Drexel. In his free time, he enjoys reading, hiking, listening to Bruce Springsteen, and wondering if something is as funny to other people as he finds it to be.

Marc Vallone

Marc Vallone
Posted in Marc Vallone