Global Gateway Program creates ‘soft landing’ for international students

The Global Gateway Program aims to support international students who are learning English. Photo courtesy of Cornell Menking

By Ashlyn Kennedy | Reporter

Baylor is home to students from all around the world, and the Global Gateway Program is designed to support those for whom English is a second language.

Dr. Cornell Menking, director of the Global Gateway Program, has been with the program since its inception over five years ago. He said it was started in partnership with Study Group to “create a pipeline for international students.”

The idea was that we can create a wider funnel for international student applicants if we give them some English support up front,” Menking said.

Although Baylor’s contract with Study Group ended in December 2023, the Global Gateway Program has continued to function as an exclusive Baylor program.

Menking described the initiative as a “pathway program.It differs from other English learning programs because students are taking English for Academic Purpose classes and traditional Baylor courses at the same time.

Our program helps students polish their English to the point that they meet the university minimum requirement,” Menking said. They’re a Baylor student. They are also taking some low-level Baylor classes, and they just need to finish this program to continue on full-time.”

The program offers one to three semesters — or “international years” — of English classes, depending on each individual’s English placement test score.

Students in the first level (three semesters) take writing, grammar, speaking and listening classes and Transition to the U.S. University. Students in the second level (two semesters) take similar English classes while also taking other core classes. Students in the third level (one semester) focus on higher-level topics such as research papers and fully matriculate into the university.

Menking said the program provides a “soft landing” for international students into American college life.

“Directly admitted students, they’re just kind of dropped in at the university,” Menking said. “We actively help students [in the program] integrate into the university and spell out opportunities for them so that by the time they matriculate into the university, not only are they more successful academically, but they participate more because they understand the cultural expectations.”

The program began with 135 students, and although its numbers dwindled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is hoping to bring them back up to about 50 students per semester.

According to Menking, data has shown that international students who go through the pathway program perform much better than directly admitted international students.

Tanya Vernon, lecturer in the Global Gateway Program, agreed with the sentiment of how important the program is for its students and the campus. She said their goal is to be a “global university,” and the program lends a hand by providing exposure to both international and domestic students.

We want to prepare our students to be international citizens, and through bringing international students to campus, our American kids get more interaction with people from other cultures,” Vernon said. “For our international students, they’re getting a great education in the U.S. and the benefits of a Christian university.”

Vernon said Baylor has been supportive of the program since the beginning by recognizing the value of the program and the resources needed to sustain it.

“It’s a need that a lot of universities don’t address or don’t have the resources to address,” Vernon said. “We are so glad that Baylor provides that.”