Frequently Asked Questions about OPIE

Questions about Tuition

Q: How do I pay for my English studies?

A: To see your charges, login to My Ohio. Click on the ‘Accounts’ tab, and the ‘My OHIO Student Center’ link. Login again. You can also pay charges at the Office of the Bursar in Chubb Hall.

Q: Why is full-time OPIE tuition different from university tuition?

A: Full-time OPIE tuition is different from Ohio University tuition because students are not yet taking academic classes. Once students reach the Bridge Levels and are eligible to take academic classes, they are charged Ohio University tuition.

Questions about Length of Study at OPIE and OPIE Levels

Q: How long will I have to study English?

A: It depends on many different factors, such as the amount of English you already know and how much English you use while you are studying in OPIE.

Researcher Jim Cummins estimates that it can take up to five years for non-native speakers of English to “catch up” to native English speakers in academic language proficiency.1 We don’t want you to spend five years in OPIE, so we’ve designed our curriculum to speed up this process. In general, here are estimates for the time it would take a student to reach acceptable levels of academic English proficiency to begin full-time academic study based on entry-level placement scores:

  • Elementary Level: 5 semesters of study Intermediate
  • Level: 4 semesters of study
  • Advanced Level: 3 semesters of study
  • CS1/Pathway 1: 2 semesters of study
  • CS2/Pathway 2: 1 semester of study

Please note:

  • These estimates are based on the assumption that a successful student will progress in OPIE.
  • Graduate students who intend to study at OU, completion of OPIE is dependent on test scores. OU Graduate School policies allow for 6 consecutive semesters to achieve the required proficiency score for their department in order to gain unconditional admission.

Q: How many levels are there in OPIE?

A: Pending student enrollment, OPIE offers 3 full-time levels and 2 part-time levels. However, not all students will complete all five levels. Some students will be placed into higher levels. Also, sometimes students may skip levels or test out of the program, not having to complete the final level.

Q: How many hours of English do I have to study?

A. It depends. If the educational level listed on your I-20 or DS-2019 is English Training, then you must have at least 18 “clock” hours of English per week. In OPIE, this will include class hours, lab hours, and discussion sessions. OPIE will register you for the correct number of hours. If your educational level is undergraduate or graduate, then the number of hours of English will depend on your English proficiency level in OPIE. See your OPIE advisor for more information.
If you are studying on an F2 visa, you are permitted to study part-time, 4-11 credit hours. F2 visa holders studying English should not be preparing for admission to Ohio University. It is not possible to complete or exit the OPIE program based on part-time English study as an F2 visa holder.

Questions about Placement and Advancement in OPIE

Q: Will my placement change if my visa status changes (e.g., from F2 to F1 or from F1 to F2)?

A: Yes, though the change in visa status must be before noon on Friday, of week 2. The change of status must be approved in SEVIS before any OPIE placement is changed.

Q: How do I advance to different levels in the program?

A: You can advance to the next level on the basis of grades or your TOEFL ITP/English Placement Test and composition score. Remember that your performance determines your grades.

Q: What if I am unhappy with my placement?

A: You should attend class for the first week of the semester and demonstrate that your English proficiency is higher than the level you in which you have been placed. After the first week of classes, your teachers will meet as a group to discuss whether you have been misplaced. All of your professors must unanimously agree to recommend a change in placement; they will then communicate their recommendation to the Director, who will make the final decision. If you do not understand your placement, please make an appointment to meet with your OPIE adviser.

Questions about the TOEFL, English Placement Test, and English Proficiency Requirements

Q: What do I do if I get sick before or during the composition, English Placement Test, or TOEFL test at the end-of-the-semester?

A: If an ill student

  • Provides a doctor’s note either directly before or after the end of semester testing administration, OR
  • Is visibly sick and needs to leave the testing room during the end-of-semester administration of the either the composition, English Placement Test, or TOEFL test, the test(s) will not be scored, and the student will have the opportunity to retake the incomplete test(s) during the beginning-of-semester testing.

Q: Can I look at my TOEFL and composition tests?

A: TOEFL ITP exams are sent to Educational Testing Services (ETS) for security reasons soon after the test is taken. Therefore, they are not available. You may request to look at your composition test in the presence of an OPIE administrator but you cannot take a picture of it or take it with you.

Q: How do I complete my language proficiency requirements?

A: You can either complete the program by achieving acceptable test scores, or successfully completing the Pathway Level 2 (undergraduate students specifically).
Please note, graduate student completion of OPIE is dependent on test scores.

Q: How do I take the TOEFL iBT?

A: The Ohio University Educational Testing Center offers iBT testing on-campus. You have to register for the test on Educational Testing Service (ETS) website: https://www.ets.org/toefl/.

When you register, you should make sure that your scores are sent to Ohio University (Ohio University's TOEFL institution code is 1593). It can take up to one month for OPIE to receive your scores. Scores must be visible in the University database (PeopleSoft) by the end of the first week of the current semester to be considered eligible for placement into full-time academic study.

IMPORTANT NOTE: TOEFL iBT and IELTS scores do not affect OPIE placement decisions for undergraduate students who have not met their Colleges’ minimum requirements for full-time academic study. OPIE students will need to take the TOEFL ITP (paper TOEFL) test administered by OPIE. However, the TOEFL iBT and IELTS can be used to enter the University Success (U.S.) Pathway Program. In order to be eligible for University Success (U.S.) Pathway Level 1, a student must score 5.5 on the IELTS overall, or 56-61 on the TOEFL iBT with all section scores of 13. For University Success (U.S.) Pathway Level 2, a student must score 5.5 on the IELTS overall with no subscores below 5.5, or 62-67 on the TOEFL iBT with all section scores of 14.

Q: Can I use scores from different tests (example: TOEFL iBT total score + OPIE composition test score) to meet my English proficiency requirement?

A: No. Your scores should be from the same test.

Q: Can I use a composition or TOEFL score from a previous session to meet my English proficiency requirement or for placement in OPIE?

A: No, test scores for placement must be from the current session.

Q: Do I have to submit a minimum TOEFL score to begin my English studies?

A: No, you don’t have to have a minimum TOEFL score. An OPIE writing task and the paper-based TOEFL (and possibly another placement test) are given when you arrive so that we can properly place you.

Q: Why is the TOEFL or IELTS required for graduate students?

A: According to the Graduate College, this is a best practice across graduate programs in the country. Masters programs tend to be shorter than undergraduate programs; and, in that period of time, students are required to be engaged in research and intensive study. A comprehensive evaluation of English language proficiency that includes test scores helps academic programs understand their student’s proficiency levels.

Q: How will OPIE English study help increase my TOEFL score?

A: While OPIE English courses are not TOEFL test preparation courses, they do directly and indirectly assist you with the TOEFL. Here is an example.
OPIE Advanced Reading Skills (OPIE D702) Course Outcome:
Skim for topic, thesis, important ideas and rhetorical structure and scan for main ideas, implied main ideas, and pre and post reading questions
Sample TOEFL (ITP) Test Questions (after a given academic reading passage):
The main idea of this passage is that killer bees

  • Have been in the news a lot recently
  • Have been moving unexpectedly rapidly through the Americas
  • Are not as aggressive as their reputation suggests
  • Are a hybrid rather than a pure breed

It can be inferred from the passage that the killer bee

  • Traveled from Brazil to Africa in 1955.
  • Was a predecessor of the African bee
  • Was carried from Africa to Brazil in 1955
  • Did not exist early in the twentieth century

Q: How can I improve my English and try to increase my TOEFL score?

  • Work hard on the homework assignments for your classes and participate actively in class. The amount of time you spend is not as important as how well you concentrate on your work. Be ready to answer every question and ask questions of your own when you donʼt understand.
  • Use English outside of class to communicate with others. Try to work on the skills in which you are weak. If you are weaker in reading than in other areas, make sure you spend some time every day reading newspapers or magazines -- read about something you are interested in. If you are weak in listening and speaking, find chances to talk to others about subjects you like.
  • Become familiar with the format of the TOEFL and test-taking strategies that can be helpful. As a service, OPIE offers a TOEFL preparation course for students at the Advanced and Bridge Levels. However, remember that studying only for the TOEFL can be harmful if it takes time away from study and activities that actually increase your academic language proficiency. After all, you use the English language to pass university academic classes; you don't use a TOEFL test score.

Questions about the OPIE Attendance Policy

Q: What is the OPIE attendance policy?

A: You need to attend 90% of your classes. This policy has been created because your visa is granted for the purpose of study and participation in an academic program.

Q: If I’m sick, is my absence excused?

A: Yes, but you need to notify your professor before class and later provide evidence in the form of a doctor’s note explaining that you were sick. Note: All OPIE students are limited to 3 excused absences per semester.

Q: What do I do if I get really sick and miss many days of class?

A: You should visit the ISFS office to discuss the possibility of getting permission for a "medical leave."

Questions about OPIE Elective Courses

Q: What is an OPIE elective or special studies course?

A: When you reach the Bridge Levels of English study in OPIE, you may have the opportunity to select or indicate a preference for the 4-hour class(es) that you will take with your Academic Core Skills class (pending enrollment). *If you are eligible to select an elective, your CORE teacher will ask you to fill out a survey at the end of the semester to indicate your preferences. More details on the process are listed below.

ADVANCED STUDENTS:

  • If you advance to a 16-hour OPIE-only placement at any Bridge level and if you have earned grades of at least B- in all three classes, then you may choose your 4-hour classes.
  • If you have one or more grades lower than B- at the Advanced Level but still advance, then you may indicate your preferences for an elective or special studies class; however, your teacher will make the final decision, based on your weakest skill in English.

BRIDGE LEVEL STUDENTS:

  • If you are continuing to study 16 hours at any Bridge Level and earning B- or above in all classes, then you may continue to choose your 4-hour classes.
    *Please note that if you are in the Pathway Program Track, you are not eligible to select your electives.

Questions about Grades and Succeeding in Your OPIE Classes

Q: How are class grades calculated?

A: Grades represent the mastery of the course language objectives and are calculated according to your demonstrated proficiency on classroom tests, quizzes, and writing and speaking tasks.

Q: How will I know how I’m doing in my English classes?

A: Your professor should always be able to give you an idea of your current grade. During the middle of the semester, your professor will present and discuss a report of your progress. At the end of the semester, course grades and credit status will not be available to you until you receive your final, official report.

Q: How can I be a successful language learner?

A: Learning to use a language is like learning to play a piano or learning to play tennis. You will not learn English simply by sitting in a classroom and watching others. You must be active in using and practicing English. While it is common to feel nervous or shy and use the language you already know well, you will get the most benefit from your time in OPIE by using English as much as you can. This means using English not only in the classroom but outside the classroom as well: in the residence halls, in the cafeteria, and on the street. You will also benefit from listening to the radio, watching television, and reading newspapers, magazines, and books for pleasure.
Language learning is not always easy and, at times, not fun, but it is rewarding. You may sometimes be frustrated and feel as though you are not learning as quickly as you wish; you may feel that you do not want to continue to study. These feelings are common and quite normal. What is important is that you try to relax and not worry too much; being relaxed helps you to overcome these feelings and continue to learn.

Goals

You can help yourself as a language learner by setting learning goals for yourself. By setting specific goals for yourself, you can direct your learning energies more effectively toward those parts of English that will be most useful to you. Your OPIE professors can help you set goals.

Ten Tips for Success in Your English Classes

  1. Use English in the classroom.
  2. Find fun ways to use English outside of class.
  3. Attend all of your classes.
  4. Be prepared for class every day.
  5. Ask questions when you don’t understand.
  6. Be an active participant!
  7. Do all homework assignments carefully and submit them on time.
  8. Study in advance for quizzes and tests.
  9. Try to learn from all of your mistakes.
  10. Have fun!

Other Questions about OPIE

Q: Can I take the summer off?

A: Students do not need to take classes full-time in the summer if they are eligible to take summer as a vacation. All students should talk with an advisor in International Student and Faculty Services (ISFS) about their summer study options. In order to maintain F-1 or J-1 visa status, students must enroll for full-time study in fall and spring semesters even if they take classes during their summer vacation.

Q: What do I do if I am having a problem in class?

A: We encourage you to first speak directly with your professor. Explain the problem and how you feel. If you still want to talk to someone else about the problem, you can come to the OPIE office and make an appointment to meet with an OPIE administrator.

Q: Can I still study in OPIE if I don’t intend to study for an academic degree at Ohio University?

A: Yes, students not intending to study for an academic degree can still take OPIE classes.

Questions about Taking Academic Classes

Q: When can I take academic classes?

A: If you are an undergraduate student planning to get a degree from Ohio University, you must qualify for the Pathway Program by having a TOEFL score between 480 and 519 or by being placed into the Pathway Program after studying in the full-time OPIE program. If you are placed into Pathway Level 1 (TOEFL 480-499), you will take 7 credit hours of academic classes. If you are placed into Pathway Level 2 (TOEFL 500-519), you will take 8-9 credit hours of academic classes. All undergraduate students in their first semester of the Pathway Program must take the 1-credit hour University College (UC) 1900 class entitled “Learning Community Seminar” or UC 1500 “Student Transitions Seminar”. If you are a graduate student, and have not been admitted into your academic program, you will most likely not be able to take academic classes until you graduate from OPIE. See your OPIE Advisor for more information.

Q: What do I do if I want to change my major?

A: On average, undergraduate students change their minds about a major three times! It’s OK to explore other majors besides your original choice. If you are interested in changing your major, visit the college where the major program is offered. Note: We advise you to contact Kyle Butler (butlerk@ohio.edu) to discuss your change of major prior to going to the College of the intended major. He will guide you through the process and refer you to OPIE liaisons. You will also need to gain approval from the Office of International Student and Faculty Services. Your major change must be processed in PeopleSoft (the OU student database) by the end of the first week of the current semester in order for it to affect OPIE course placement. Resulting OPIE placement changes must also occur by the end of the first week of the semester. Please see the Ohio University academic handbook for more information about major changes.

Q: If I change my major from business (College of Business) to something else, can I eventually change it back or re-enter the College of Business?

A: Such a possibility should be discussed with an advisor in the College of Business and would be determined by fulfillment of the re-entrance requirements at the time of the change of major.

Q: Who will my academic adviser be?

A: All admitted undergraduate students are assigned an advisor by their respective academic department/college once they complete the OPIE program. Students should check their DARS for that information by going to the My OHIO Web portal: https://my.ohio.edu/uPortal. Pathway Coordinator, Kyle Butler (butlerk@ohio.edu), can also assist in finding that information. Other relevant information about advising and academic studies is addressed at Bobcat Student Orientation (BSO). Students attend the BSO before beginning full-time academic coursework. Check for the specific date at the Undergraduate Orientation Programs website: https://www.ohio.edu/university-college/orientation/sign

Q: What is UC 1900 (Learning Communities Seminar)?

A: UC 1900 and UC 1500 are academic classes (not OPIE classes) that helps undergraduate students be successful in their studies and life at Ohio University. These classes meet once a week, and students earn one credit hour and a letter grade (A, B, C, D, or F) for this course. Students are organized into classes according to major so that each class can focus on the most important information for students of that major. Classes are taught by academic faculty and staff at the University. UC 1900 also has help and advice from a “learning community leader” who is a student at Ohio University.

Q: Can I take online classes?

A: Please check with your International Student Advisor at the Walter International Education Center and your OPIE adviser.

Note: Bridge Level students who take online academic classes during their summer vacation will still need to continue taking their assigned OPIE classes when they return to Ohio University in the fall. OPIE Bridge Level students must continue their studies in OPIE if they are on campus taking academic classes during the summer.

Q: Is it possible to visit real academic classes for practice while I am a full-time OPIE student?

A: At the Advanced Level, students are encouraged to audit, or sit in on, academic lectures with special permission from the professor. This gives students a chance for further English practice in an academic setting without the worry of performance. See your Core instructor for more details and a permission form.

Questions about Registration Holds and TB Testing

Q: What is a hold?

A: A hold is placed on your account when you do not do something like pay a bill or meet with an advisor. Sometimes, holds prevent students from registering. To have a hold released, you must contact the office that placed the hold and follow their instructions.

Q: What is a TB test?

A: TB stands for tuberculosis, which is a disease. International students new to the Athens campus or re-enrolling after an absence of two or more years must be evaluated for active tuberculosis. If a student does not complete this requirement, his or her university account will be placed on hold. The hold will prevent the student from registering for classes. Tuberculosis skin testing is available on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays from 8:30-4:30 p.m. during the academic term.

Questions about Campus and University Life

Q: What do I do if I am having a problem that is not class-related?

A: You can talk with your professor or make an appointment to speak with an OPIE administrator.

There are other non-OPIE resources available to you:

Q: What if I have a disability or special needs?

A: Ohio University has an office on campus called Student Accessibility Services. It is located in Baker University Center, 348. The Office of Student Accessibility Services works to provide an academic environment accessible to all students. Since accommodations are provided on an individual basis, it is best to make an appointment at the office. www.ohio.edu/uc/sas

Q: Where can I find halal food on campus?

A: You can find halal food at the West 82 food court in Baker Center. West 82 accepts cash, Flex Points (a portion of the Flex meal plans), Bobcat Cash, and credit/debit cards. For more information, contact Culinary Services.

Q: Why do I have to leave my dorm room during breaks?

A: It is impossible for Ohio University to find enough staff for all of the dormitories during breaks, so if you stay on campus during a break, you may need to move to temporary housing. Ask your RA or the Office of Residential Housing (contact Alvena Collins) about an extended housing contract (with lower rates) for international students.

Q: Can I apply for a social security number?

A: Students are not permitted to obtain social security numbers unless they have a job on campus. For more information, contact the International Student and Faculty Services Office.

Q: Can I record my professor so that I can review class material at home?

A. Recording of classroom activities by any electronic means, by students, other faculty, University administrators, or others, requires permission of the professor. All students in a class must be informed if permission has been given for a class to be recorded. (See Academic Policies, “Classroom Privacy”.)

Q: How do I write an email to a professor or professional at Ohio University?