DOHA, QATAR – Thirty-two high school seniors and 22 juniors benefited from Carnegie Mellon Qatar’s Summer College Preview Program (SCPP), which concluded on Thursday in a festive closing ceremony at the university’s campus. The three-week college preparatory course aims to give high school students an insight into university life and help prepare them for admission and enrolment in a top university.
“We are thrilled to welcome the highest number of students who have ever attended the Summer College Preview Program. The pool of qualified students has gotten bigger every year,” said Bruce Volstad, manager of pre-college programs at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. “What’s encouraging is that there are more and more students who want to spend part of their summer holiday preparing for what will be a very important decision in the coming years: where to go to university and what to study. We trust that these three weeks have helped the students get closer to their goals and be academically prepared to make that decision,” he added.
In its fifth year, Carnegie Mellon’s SCPP is designed to introduce academically motivated high school students to the demanding curriculum of highly selective universities such as the ones at Qatar Foundation. Students are exposed to college-level math and writing, preparing them for standardized academic exams and university level entrance exams. The program helps to familiarize high school students with the workload they will experience once enrolled at university.
As academic success at top universities depends heavily on a strong command of the English language, the SCPP offered many opportunities for students to improve their English language skills. Students learned the importance of the writing process, including attention to audience, revision and editing techniques as well as fundamentals of proper grammar and effective style. The students also worked practiced writing a university admission essay and speaking in front of a classroom audience. "I applied to the program because I am interested in applying to the top universities in the world and I thought that this program would help prepare me for the application process. The program helped me improve my English a lot and I am more comfortable with the language now. I am very impressed by the program and CMUQ. At first, I did not expect to make friends because I thought everyone will be too serious and unfriendly; however, I ended up making great friendships that I hope will last" said Ahmad Al Kuwari, a rising senior at Omar bin Al Khattab and a speaker at the SCPP closing event.
The students attended classes focused on one of Carnegie Mellon’s major areas of study - business administration, computer science, information systems, or Biological Sciences, which is the new major offered by CMUQ - to help them learn about the university’s programs and choose their area of interest. "Carnegie Mellon Qatar is at the top of my list of universities I would like to apply to, hence, I decided to apply to the program to test the environment and the workload. I cancelled all my summer travel plans just to attend the SCPP and I don't regret it! I am even more interested in CMUQ now and their new Biological Sciences major. I hope I get to be a Tartan next year" said Fatima Amir, a rising senior at Qatar Academy, and a speaker at the SCPP closing event.
Rami Al-Rihawi, a student in Carnegie Mellon’s class of 2012, participated in the summer program in 2007. “As part of the program, there are three different projects that explain each major offered by CMU. I picked the computer science project, and with the help of the professors and the tutor counselors, I learned a great deal about what CS really is and what I should expect. I decided that I wanted to major in CS, and it was the right decision for me to make.”
Through this program, the students learned first-hand how heavy a college course load can be and what caliber of work will be expected of them if they are accepted into Carnegie Mellon. Each student also had a mock college admission interview with a Carnegie Mellon counselor, preparing them for the competitive application process. To help develop personal skills, workshops were organized by Carnegie Mellon’s Student Affairs department covering such topics as goal setting, stress management and time management.
The 54 students in the program represented 22 schools in Qatar. Two of the students who took part in last year’s program returned for a second year. One of them is Amer Hashim, from Omar Bin Al Khattab secondary school. “I participated in the program again because I am going to be applying to universities this year. I noticed a great improvement in my English and math skills since last year, so I decided to take it again to improve even more and be prepared. In addition, I wanted to meet new friends,” Hashim said. In this year’s program, students were of 17 nationalities including Qatari, American, Bangladeshi, British, Canadian, Egyptian, Indian, Indonesian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Malaysian, Pakistani, Polish, Singaporean, Sudanese, South Korean, and Ukrainian.
Five of the instructors came from the university’s home campus in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and one instructor came from Carnegie Mellon’s Heinz School in Australia. In addition, several instructors are not affiliated with Carnegie Mellon University: three counselors from Kaplan Test Prep worked with students in the SAT preparation course, as well as a math teacher who has taught Algebra II since the program started in 2007. Carnegie Mellon Qatar staff and students served as peer tutors and counselors, helping students with coursework and special projects, and answering questions about life at the university and the campus.
According to the welcome speech presented by D. Murry Evans, marketing director at Carnegie Mellon Qatar, “Based on history, at least 15 of you will become students at Carnegie Mellon. So to you I say welcome to the CMU family! We look forward to a life-long relationship with you.”