SJS Students Move One Step Closer Toward Reaching Their Dreams

SJS Students Move One Step Closer Toward Reaching Their Dreams

A new group of students representing three different countries are officially University of Oklahoma students this semester after entering Phase 2 of OU Extended Campus’ Sooner Jump Start pathway program.

Sooner Jump Start provides international students the opportunity to be introduced to the American university experience in a supported and guided environment, providing them with a greater opportunity for success as they transition to a new country and new culture.

During Phase 1 of SJS, the students took advanced ESL courses through OU Extended Campus’ Center for English as a Second Language. After achieving an eligible English proficiency test score, they were promoted to Phase 2. 

Classes count, grades matter

The 17 students, from China, Oman and Kuwait, began taking their first semester of OU courses earlier this month.

Although most of the students have been on campus for at least a semester, each received a new student admission box – the same ones all new OU students receive – during an orientation event Jan. 11. 

“This is your first semester of OU courses, and these classes count. Grades matter.”

During the orientation they learned what classes they’ll be taking and received tips on how to be successful throughout this important next step in their journey toward a degree.

“You are officially OU students,” said Susan Dissette, SJS program development specialist. “This is your first semester of OU courses, and these classes count. Grades matter.”

Mohammed Al Hinaai, an architecture and engineering major from Oman, said he’s looking forward making friends, seeing more of Oklahoma and traveling to other parts of the country while getting his degree.

“I’ve heard many stories, and many friends told me this program is good. My GPA depends on this session, so I’m going to prepare myself and do well,” said Al Hinaai. “I plan to go on field trips, and I want to see more of the United States, especially New York City.”

Unlike the majority of Phase 2 students, Chloe Fan, a transfer student from China, scored high enough on her English proficiency tests to be directly admitted into her degree program. However, she chose to be part of SJS this semester to get acclimated to OU and American culture.

“I used to study pharmacy in China,” said Fan. “I find it hard to learn science, so I wanted to come to America and study the arts.”

Fan is looking forward to studying history, culture and writing while pursuing a communications degree.

Becoming independent

Phase 2 students will learn in smaller class sizes this semester, becoming more familiar with American culture through freshman-level courses in history, English and political science, as well as first-year experience course, before fully transitioning to main campus next semester.

“The OU professors who teach these courses receive intercultural training and are able to provide individualized attention to our students,” said Elle Shroyer, SJS director. “Students are provided with authentic experiences to enhance their studies, including a virtual tour of the White House and visits to the Oklahoma State Capitol, Harn Homestead, Oklahoma History Center and Western History Collections.”

Students also participate in weekly writing groups, a community service project and at least one cultural field trip, typically horseback riding and hiking.

“We foster independence during this phase, but we’re available to students whenever they would like our support,” Shroyer said. “Our goal is for each student to complete the SJS program with all the tools they need to thrive in their degree program at OU.”

Phase 2 students are encouraged to sign up for the SJS Mentorship Program, where they are paired with an OU student that will help them continue to interact and build relationships with students across campus. Students also have the option to join the Faculty Mentorship Program through University College, where they are paired with a faculty advisor and other freshmen on campus.

After completing the pathway program, the students will be able to enroll as freshmen, armed with everything they need to successfully navigate campus and their degree programs.

“By completing the SJS pathway program, student can enter their college with the tools they need to achieve their dreams,” Shroyer said.

In addition to the students moving into Phase 2, SJS welcomed two Chinese students into Phase 1 of the program this semester. They will study at CESL this semester before later moving into Phase 2.

Visit the SJS website to learn more about programs and opportunities for international students at the University of Oklahoma.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.