Summer programs

Summer Programs for First-Year Students Bridge the Gap Between High School and College

May 28, 2021
By: Nancy Sheehan

Summer learning opportunities abound for incoming first-year students at Worcester State University.

Three programs, each tailored a little bit differently, offer students support as they move through the educational gap between high school and college. All are free, and registration forms and contact information is available by visiting this website.

All three programs allow students to earn free college credits while learning skills they will need for a successful college experience.

The Alternatives for Individual Development program (AID) has been at Worcester State University for about 45 years and focuses on supporting first-generation, urban, and/or ALANA/BIPOC students. Students start their experience through the AID Summer Bridge program, which runs from Tuesday, June 1 through Friday, July 2, and are supported during the academic year through wraparound retention services until graduation.

The program’s structure allows students to earn between 3 and 12 credits during the summer while also focusing on skills development, reading comprehension, writing, math, and language/cultural contexts. This year, the AID program will grow to support an additional AID cohort to assist and meet enrollment needs and demographics.

During the summer experience, students can live on campus with the support of the Residence Life team as they take classes. Throughout the program—from summer through graduation—they will also have access to faculty mentors within their majors, upperclassmen mentors, and alumni mentorship and panels to assist in their transition and adjustment.

Lancer Learning is a way for any first-year student to get a jump start on college over the summer. The program runs during Summer Session II, from July 12 to August 27 and will be offered online with a flexible schedule that can accommodate students’ summer plans. The course allows students to begin earning college credit while helping them acclimate to academic life. Last year, which was the first year of the program, 244 students completed the course. As an upgrade this year, current Worcester State students will be embedded in the course as mentors to support the new students.

“It’s a more enhanced model, and it’s giving a great opportunity to our current students as well,” says Tammy Tebo, M.Ed, assistant dean of academic services. “They’re being called ‘peer mentors’ and they’re going to meet with them, guide them through all their assignments, and provide them feedback and assessment.”

Lancer Learning’s multidisciplinary three-credit course helps incoming students understand what the expectations are inside a college classroom and introduces them to Blackboard, WSU’s learning management system. They are shown ways to strengthen their writing so that it rises to the college level and are taught learning strategies specific for first-year students.

Last year’s participants were tracked throughout the ensuing academic year and the program was shown to have boosted GPAs and increased retention of students beyond their first semester. The persistence rate for fall into spring was about 89 percent, which was higher than their counterparts who did not take the course, Tebo says.  Participants’ GPAs also averaged higher.

The Bridge to Excellence:  Summer STEM Retention Program offers eligible first-year students who have declared a major in the STEM fields to become better prepared for the rigors of their chosen major. One focal point of the program is building the math skills required by a variety of majors, including biology, biotechnology, chemistry, computer science, and environmental science.

“If a student says, ‘Which one should I do?’ we would talk to them a little bit more about what their goals were,” Tebo says. “Academically, they all check the box of getting incoming students prepared for college-level work and expectations.”

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