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Oregon State is helping Panamá high school students thrive in college environment online

OSU Ecampus classes offer a chance to gain college credit and valuable academic skills

By Tyler Hansen
July 14, 2021

Ronit is in her final year at Instituto Alberto Einstein (IAE), a private school in Panamá City, Panamá. Like most students her age, she isn’t sure which college she’ll attend or what she’ll declare as her major.

But one thing is certain: No matter where she goes, Ronit has already proven she knows how to succeed as a college student.

That’s because she is one of a select group of IAE students who earns college credit by taking classes through Oregon State University Ecampus, one of the best providers of online education in the United States. The international collaboration between the two institutions began in 2018, and it helps about 30 students each year get an early start on their postsecondary education.

Perhaps more importantly, they discover what it takes to be self-sufficient and self-motivated learners in an advanced academic setting.

“I have practiced the values of responsibility and punctuality in these classes,” said Freida, another IAE student who has taken one Oregon State class online each semester for two years. “I’ve learned how to communicate with professors and peers, and I’ve expanded my vocabulary and worked on my English skills.”

The majority of program graduates have successfully received transfer credits for their respective colleges’ English requirements, elective credits and select foundational course credits.

Officially called the IAE-OSU University Credit Program, it offers students in 10th through 12th grades more rigorous academic options in English, math and other subjects. Because the program operates separately from the school’s diploma program, students have the potential to apply for transfer credits at U.S. colleges and universities.

And many take advantage of that benefit. Program coordinator and IAE academic advisor Kezia Carpenter, Ph.D., said the majority of their program’s graduates have successfully received transfer credits for their respective colleges’ English requirements, elective credits and select foundational course credits.

“The program simultaneously helps students develop valuable college readiness skills such as good study habits, critical thinking skills and more sophisticated English reading, writing and communication skills,” Carpenter said.

A program with a positive impact

Survey responses from students at Panamá’s Instituto Alberto Einstein reveal what they feel they gained from taking college-level classes online through Oregon State Ecampus:

91.3% – Improved English proficiency
82.6% – Improved writing skills
82.6% – Learned how a college course works
69.6% – Earned college credit
65.2% – Improved critical thinking skills
65.2% – Learned new organizational and study skills

In a 2020 survey, 92.3% of participating IAE students said the college-level experience met or exceeded their expectations. Part of that satisfaction is due to the quality of the classes that Oregon State Ecampus develops and delivers online. OSU Ecampus is ranked No. 4 for online education by U.S. News & World Report and has been in the national top 10 for seven consecutive years.

As IAE students reach their second or third year, they can choose from a wider selection of Oregon State courses. Carpenter said that favorites include courses in English composition, fiction writing, public speaking, digital core studio, statistics, philosophy, and personal leadership development.

Not only are the high schoolers acquiring knowledge and college credit from a respected U.S. university, but they are also being welcomed into a global network of peers.

“The collaboration with Instituto Alberto Einstein is a great way for students to have rewarding experiences and be exposed to entirely new perspectives,” said Marleigh Perez, Ed.D., the Oregon State Ecampus director of student success. “They are learning from and engaging with students all over the world when they take OSU Ecampus courses, and they’re exposed to students of all ages and backgrounds.”

It’s the type of diverse, all-around learning experience that would benefit any student. And it’s why Ronit, the IAE student who is still finalizing her college plans, is ready for whatever comes next.

“This online experience with OSU taught me how to manage my time better, to know that I don’t need to be in a physical classroom to succeed, and to learn about new programs that could help me on future college assignments,” she said.

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