On 24 July 2014, 40 high school students from 22 different area high schools in Qatar representing 15 different nationalities completed four weeks of intensive preparation for university life through Georgetown University in Qatar’s fifth annual Georgetown Pre-College Summer programme, or GPS.

The series of full-time classes, which are taught completely in English, cover a full range of topics necessary for university success, including reading, writing, note-taking, research, and presentation skills, two levels of math classes that includes a focus on applying mathematical knowledge to solving economics problems, and library and research skills training and career counseling.

A student development officer at GU-Q and this year’s GPS coordinator, Jacqui Snell, said:

GU-Q’s uniquely inclusive preparatory programme is for students who seek a competitive edge in the university application process as they move into their final years of high school. It’s open to all of Qatar’s future university students, not only those interested in attending Georgetown, and this year we had the most applicants ever, with 96 applications for only 40 spots.’

Practical preparation for SAT standardided testing, a requirement for admission to Georgetown University as well as other top universities in Education City, and worldwide, is another important element in the GPS programme. Snell notes that participating students see a marked improvement in their SAT test score through this programme, saying:

We test the students at both the beginning and at the end of the four weeks, so we can track just how beneficial this pre-college training is for these promising students.’

The GPS programme also allows high school students to get a taste of a GU-Q education through participating in a mini-seminar, a class taught by Georgetown staff that introduces students to the majors offered at GU-Q: Culture and Politics, International Economics, International Politics, and the newly launched International History degree. Snell explained:

The mini seminar enables students to take a class that is directly modeled off what all first year Georgetown students take. This is exciting because it gives the students an even more in-depth look at what university life is like.’

Former GPS student Kareem Malas decided to enroll in GU-Q after taking part in a GPS programme. He said:

In the beginning I was skeptical about whether to go to GPS or not. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend my summer at some college prep institution. But when I did, it turned out to be one of the most exciting experiences of my life. I never thought we would have that much fun and at the same time prepare ourselves for college.’

Malas also learned a lot about university admissions through workshops, presentations, and individual coaching that gives students insights, skills, and resources necessary to prepare for admission and success at top-caliber American or international universities. He said:

GPS really helped me realize what I wanted to do with my life, and where and how to apply for universities. Without it, my college preparations and applications would have been really difficult.’

Since starting GPS in 2009, 240 local students have taken part in the annual programme.