AUC Road to College Program Provides Free English Language Online Courses for High School Students

AUC Road to College Launch
AUC Road to College Launch event

The American University in Cairo (AUC) has launched AUC Road to College program, which provides free English language online courses designed specifically for high school students in Egypt. The program is the first of its kind in Egypt and the Middle East. Self-paced, academically and culturally tailored, the courses of the program will enable Egyptian high school students to compete for admission to English-language universities, including AUC and other institutions in Egypt or abroad. 

The program launch event that was held in New Cairo campus on Tuesday was attended by members of AUC's Board of Trustees; Ahmad Dallal, AUC president; Ehab Abdel Rahman, AUC provost; James Ketterer, dean of the School of Continuing Education, AUC; Hoda Mostafa, director of the Center for Learning and Teaching, AUC and Ghada Elshimi, dean of undergraduate studies and The Academy of Liberal Arts, AUC.

“Service is a key pillar for AUC,” says AUC President Ahmad Dallal. “Since English-language proficiency is a critical ability that is often an obstacle for otherwise talented students, and since supplementary English training can be expensive, the program helps close this gap. It is part of our social responsibility toward the community at large.”

AUC Road to College is a fully online, 12-course, leveled English-language program that allows middle and high school students across Egypt to further develop their fluency outside of the classroom, with no minimum level of English required.

“This initiative is part of a larger University strategy to increase the access of most talented students, regardless of their financial ability, to quality higher education institutions like AUC,” says Provost Ehab Abdel-Rahman. “By taking these courses, participating students will have higher chances of getting accepted into English-language universities they apply to and better integrate into the university life.”

The courses are designed by AUC’s English instructors and include six modules, each of which requires an average of three to four hours of learning per week. However, students can self-pace their progress, allowing them to move at a speed that best suits their learning abilities and personal schedules. “If students find difficulty finishing in four hours, they can revisit and replay the course material at their own pace,” said Hoda Mostafa, professor of practice and director of AUC’s Center for Learning and Teaching, which developed the program online and collaborated with AUC IT team to develop the digital platform. “Learners can access the courses multiple times, anywhere, anytime.”

The program helps students improve their writing, listening, reading and speaking skills –– key components of attending English-language universities –– through relevant topics and contexts. “The courses incorporate articles, videos, audio material, activities and peer-to-peer discussions that provide students with the most effective and engaging learning experience,” explained Ghada Elshimi, dean of undergraduate studies and The Academy of Liberal Arts, which designed courses for the program. “New courses will continually be added to better serve and empower students with the skills needed for the market.”

Now in its second pilot cohort, the program has been performing well. Students from the first cohort provided positive feedback, ranging from good course organization and engaging activities to accessibility and flexibility. “We exceeded the expected number of students in our pilot, which had more than 48,000 learners create accounts and more than 12, 500 learners enrolled in the courses from various backgrounds. Interest is growing exponentially, and we will continue incorporating student feedback for continuous regular improvement,” says Mostafa.

In the future, the program aims to expand to include public speaking, communication skills, emotional intelligence, design thinking and creative problem-solving. “We want to expose students to liberal arts pedagogies that will equip them with transferable task-based, project-based and experiential learning skills, as well as enhance their independent learning abilities and digital literacy necessary for success at university,” said Elshimi.

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Founded in 1919, The American University in Cairo (AUC) is a leading English-language, American-accredited institution of higher education and center of the intellectual, social, and cultural life of the Arab world. It is a vital bridge between East and West, linking Egypt and the region to the world through scholarly research, partnerships with academic and research institutions and study abroad programs. 

The University offers 40 undergraduate, 52 master’s and two PhD programs rooted in a liberal arts education that encourages students to think critically and find creative solutions to conflicts and challenges facing both the region and the world. 

An independent, nonprofit, politically non-partisan, non-sectarian and equal opportunity institution, AUC is fully accredited in Egypt and the United States.