College Ready or Not?

Engaging and Supporting English Language Learners in Higher Education


  • Katie D. Lewis York College of Pennsylvania
  • Stephanie L. Brown York College of Pennsylvania



English language learners, higher education, college readiness, instructional strategies


In recent years, there has been a greater emphasis on ensuring that high schools across the United States focus on college readiness standards and skills, with the goal that more students will persist and find greater success in college. Despite this focus, there are still significant gaps among the students who are deemed “ready” and are actually persisting and finding that success, specifically for English language learners (ELLs). In this article, we illustrate the landscape of ELLs enrolled in institutions of higher education. We then explore how ELL students are classified and how these different profiles intersect with the limited range and types of English as a Second Language (ESL) support available at the institutional level. Finally, we contribute to the very limited practical knowledge base on ELLs in the college setting, with a summary of promising best practices for college faculty across disciplines to consider in their instruction.