LAWRENCEVILLE - When Kathy Cheng talks, nothing about her speech indicates English is her second language. In fact, the sophomore at Georgia Gwinnett College even has a hint of a Southern accent.
But when the Collins Hill graduate took the COMPASS, a college-placement test, she didn't score as high as she would have liked.
"Grammar was an issue to me," said Cheng, who moved to the United States from China when she was 6.
To ensure she was ready to succeed academically, Cheng took a student success course in English for Academic Purposes.
"It definitely helped me a lot in every subject," the business major said.
Georgia Gwinnett College's student success programs include the EAP classes for non-native English speakers who lack fluency in the language and English, reading and math courses for students who score below the collegiate level in these areas.
Mary Greiss-Shipley, director for student success programs, said the programs are designed to support and enhance students' academic, intellectual and social development and to promote their retention and graduation.
"Some students come in with less preparation," Greiss-Shipley said. "We don't want to lower our standards. We want to raise our students to the standards."
Justin Jernigan, an assistant professor of English for Academic Purposes, said the college's student success classes offers programs for native and non-native speakers of English because faculty must take different approaches to teaching the language to non-native speakers.
The classes in English for Academic Purposes focus on helping students develop a knowledge of the language they'll need in their core classes, Jernigan said.
The student success program isn't just limited to classes, either. Jernigan said the program offers tutoring to all students.
Susan Bleyle, an instructor of English for Academic Purposes, said it's important for Georgia Gwinnett College to have this support system in place.
"Georgia Gwinnett College is an open-access institution with students at all levels of preparation," she said.
Dacula resident Nisha Dave said she took student success courses in English and reading because she didn't do her best on the COMPASS.
The skills she learned in student success have helped her, she said.
"I pay attention in class more," she said. "My teacher inspired me to read a lot. I have to read in order to enhance my vocabulary. And I do work every day to avoid procrastination."