What are Summer Bridge Programs?

Comments Off on What are Summer Bridge Programs? 03 June 2015

100713 Build Your Bridge

If you’ve been accepted to a college, you may find that they have what is called a “summer bridge” program, which is a program for students to get acquainted with campus life and gain skills that will get them through their rigorous first year.  But what exactly is involved with a summer bridge program? Are they the same at each college? Should all students participate? What does it mean if you’re required to complete a summer bridge program? 

Summer Bridge Programs: An Overview

Most of the time, when a school refers to their “summer bridge program” they mean a program for admitted students that allows them time on campus in the summer before the fall semester starts. However, some schools use this term to refer to a variety of summer programming, so it’s important to check with the school to see exactly what’s involved with their own summer bridge program. (Some schools refer to their programs for high school freshmen and sophomores as “bridge programs”, too.)

If you are a student that is attending college in the fall, your school’s summer bridge program may be an optional offering.  Smith College, for example, allows students of color interested in diversity to choose to come to campus early and participate in activities and presentations as well as meet with other students and faculty before the semester begins.  The program is completely up to the student to participate in, and while there are many advantages, and admitted students can also elect to simply come to campus on their move-in and orientation days.  Much like Smith, Colorado College offers their Bridge Scholars Program to admitted first-gen and underrepresented students each summer.

Depending on the conditions of your admittance, you may be required to be a part of your school’s summer bridge program.  Don’t worry–this doesn’t mean that they doubt your ability academically because you were admitted after all.  In these situations,  a school feels that you may need some extra preparation either to get you ready to take college-level classes or to get you ready for the challenges of campus life.  In the end, most students tend to find summer bridge programs a place to gain extremely helpful skills that help them become successful in their college careers.

What Goes On During a Summer Bridge Program

Whether you’re required to attend the program or you are choosing to, the main goal of a summer bridge program is of prepare you for your first semester in college.  In most cases, you’ll prepare academically by taking college success skills classes, receiving tutoring, and meeting with faculty and staff.  You’ll usually learn things like different study and and note-taking strategies,  experience college-level math and writing, and explore the majors and departments offered on campus.

Not only will you get a taste of college academics, but you’ll also see what campus life is like.  Most programs involve staying in student housing and some even allow you to move into fall semester dorm rooms early. You may get to participate in on-campus events and activities in the surrounding community that will help you meet new friends and develop a social support system on campus before classes begin. Some programs will place students in a cohort of classmates with similar backgrounds and interests during their summer bridge program with the hopes these students will stay in touch and help each other during the school year.

Benefits of Participating in a Summer Bridge Program

There are many benefits to participating in a summer bridge program. You’ll get settled in on campus before the school year starts, as well as possibly meet some of your new classmates.  You’ll get a good feel for what actual college classes will be like, and get guidance from both faculty and staff as to how to navigate your first year. Sometimes you’ll even get a stipend that covers your travel expenses or get to move into your dorm room early.

There are plenty of great reasons to participate in a summer bridge program.  If you aren’t sure if the school you’ll be attending offers one, make sure to contact their admissions department.  If you’re required to participate as a condition of your admittance, feel confident that the program will help you prepare as you make the big transition from high school to college.

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