For students with weak academic skills, a summer “bridge” to college-level classes can improve the odds of success, reports Education Week.
“Summer bridge programs can provide an important head start on college,” said Elisabeth Barnett, a senior research associate at Teachers College, Columbia University, and the Community College Research Center in New York. “They can increase the chances that students will enter college without needing remediation, and they can help students to gain comfort with the college environment and with themselves as college students.”
Such programs, which tend to run four to five weeks, offer intensive academic instruction. At-risk students are often recruited, and colleges generally pick up the tab as an enticement.
Students can come for the day or, at some institutions, live in the dorms. In developmental programs, classes focus on mathematics or English. Other campuses allow students to take a broader range of courses. Almost all find providing “college knowledge” through peer mentors is a valuable way to help students feel more confident about the transition to campus.
However, some colleges have had to cut back for lack of funding.
The National Center for Postsecondary Research is studying summer bridge programs in Texas and at the University of Washington at Tacoma to see if they improve students’ odds of success. Only 25 percent of new community college students are fully prepared for college-level coursework, Achieving the Dream estimates.