The Dr. Barbara Carey-Shuler Equity Institute at Palm Beach State College partnered with the Student Support Services TRIO program and two existing intensive academic boot camps to launch a new comprehensive summer initiative for first-time college students.
The inaugural two-week NextGen Summer Bridge program kicked off on June 9 with a welcome event for more than 80 PBSC freshmen. During the program, which runs Monday-Thursday until June 23, students receive academic, financial and personal support. They also are offered an opportunity to take the three-credit hour Introduction to the College Experience class for the Summer B Term, which starts June 29. The idea is to give them a jump start on their academics by taking the course PBSC requires for all first-time-in-college students.
“NextGen Summer Bridge is both an enrollment initiative and a retention initiative,” said Dr. Karline Prophete, interim director of the Dr. Barbara Carey-Shuler Equity Institute, citing research showing that students are 96% more likely to be retained by attending a summer program. “We’re helping them with their transition. All the barriers they would have as part of onboarding, we’ll take care of it in the first week of the summer program.”
More than 200 students were invited to apply for the program, which includes motivational speakers and workshops centered around themes such as “Find Your Squad,” “Build Your Squad,” “Strengthen Your Squad” and “Unite With Your Squad.”
The program runs concurrently with Math Jump and Jump Write In!, both faculty-led intensive programs for students to polish their skills and build a support network before tackling their freshman-level English and math courses. Participants spend six hours a day for four days getting ahead on content they will cover in intermediate algebra, college algebra or English composition classes. Prophete said running the programs as part of NextGen Summer Bridge helps participants who need that support as well.
In addition, participants are introduced to Student Support Services, a federally-funded program, which could provide them, if they qualify, with comprehensive services to help them stay in school and graduate, including academic tutoring, assistance in course selection, information about financial aid and economic literacy and other support.
“I feel like I’m ready for college by coming to Summer Bridge,’’ said Rodley Petit-Homme, a Palm Beach Lakes High School graduate and aspiring nurse. “I didn’t want to go through the whole summer without learning anything.”
Petit-Homme enrolled in the Math Jump class to brush up on his skills. “I feel like this college will benefit me. I’m up for the challenge. I feel like I can do it. I believe in myself.”
Ania Adhemar, a Boynton Beach High School graduate,” also aspires to become a travel nurse. She said the sessions with professionals in their chosen career fields were among the highlights to get first-hand information on working in those areas. “I’m happy I took half of my summer to come to this program to get a head start.”
For more than 25 years in the past, the College operated Fast Break and Summer Bridge programs to attract freshly minted high school graduates by giving them a jumpstart on college. Fast Break targeted higher performing students who wanted to get ahead by taking a summer course, and Summer Bridge was aimed at students requiring a college prep course. Neither program required students to enroll at PBSC. They were replaced in 2014 with SummerQuest, which took a different approach by not distinguishing between the two populations and targeted students who had not taken dual enrollment courses in high school.
NextGen goes even further. It provides a comprehensive approach to helping students transition to college by providing all the support needed, and participants are required to attend PBSC. It also provides transportation to the Lake Worth campus where the program is held.
Prophete said the comprehensive approach is needed to better serve first generation students and help them navigate and succeed in college.
“We brought everything together to make it one seamless program,” she said. “It’s the most effective retention initiative. We help so much in the two weeks to make the transition seamless. They know where the resources are. They are connected to faculty and staff.”
Source: Palm Beach State College