Last-minute college success preparation

For some students, the summer before college is filled with hunting down dorm room necessities, wrapping up a summer job, and finding the best deals on college textbooks.  But how much of this serves to arm students with the skills they will need once they enroll in college?  Last month, a Huffington Post infographic came out with a sobering data point: there is “no state [in the US] where a majority of students graduate college in four years.”

Some state schools are taking an extra step to ensure accepted students come in prepared, with special attention toward first-generation and low-income students. In Nevada, where the four-year college graduation rate is 8.75 percent (six-year data brings the rate to just over one in four), three state schools have developed programs to support at-risk students during their transition to college through summer bridge programs, which include such things as “math boot camp,” “college survival skills,” and general academic skills.  So far, the programs appear to be working: of all the students who attended the 2013 summer programs, 100 percent remained enrolled for the full first year of college.

On the other side of the country, the University of Connecticut (this writer’s alma mater) runs a similar summer bridge program for incoming freshman, attempting to raise the state’s 30.1 percent four-year college graduation rate. The Student Support Services Summer Program, a six-week preparatory session, provides students with an intensive and structured introduction to college courses, focusing most on math, while housing students on the college campus.  This program comes with a catch: to continue enrollment as a freshman in the fall, students must complete the entire summer program.

These programs go to show that the burden for preparing students for higher education lies not only on K-12 schools, but also on the local community and the colleges that will one day enroll these students to lift them to their highest potential.

Read on here for more on efforts that help students overcome barriers to college success.