the ‘high school to college’ gap
freshmen looking for educational advantages are leaping early into
University life by spending their summer on campus, smoothing the
transition from high school to CSUS.
Kay Lee, coordinator of the “summer bridge” program
at CSUS, says the free intensive academic preparation and orientation
has an incredible success rate. Ninety percent of the students pass
the six-week program and slide into the fall semester better prepared
than other students. She says the summer bridge students are also
more likely to remain at the University.
Summer bridge operates out of the educational opportunity program,
which provides advising, counseling and other services to low-income
and first-generation college students. The participants are placed
in classes based upon English placement tests and the entry-level
The agenda is rigorous. “I maximize their schedules and maximize
their time,” Lee says. The students take three classes, most
from the learning skills center. Several live on campus during the
program. Lee plans a variety of field trips including visits to
the Sacramento Discovery Museum to build teamwork.
Lee says there are many benefits to summer bridge. “It’s
a great transition. The students get an extra nudge.” She
says that not only are the classes academically helpful but, “Once
the fall semester begins, they know things like where the computer
labs are. They already feel like they’re home.” She
says the students, faculty and staff become a cohesive group. “They
build a community. It makes the community stronger.”
Lee says the most difficult part of her job as coordinator is fitting
people into classes. There are 26 courses offered this summer. With
nearly 180 students taking three classes per day, the arrangement
can be challenging, she says. Many students have scheduling concerns
including long commutes or lack of reliable transportation.
Lee says the application procedure for summer bridge is simple.
The student must have applied to the University and checked the
appropriate box on the application that asks if they “wish
to apply through the educational opportunity program.” If
the potential student checks “yes,” the application
is then routed to the EOP office and the student receives a summer
bridge application. “There is still time to apply for those
that have not applied to summer bridge this year,” Lee says.
Lee says she expects 350 applications, but can only pick approximately
half that number to attend. She says “word of mouth”
is the most common way students find out about summer bridge. “Family
and friends who’ve been through the program talk about it.
Usually siblings are the best source,” she says. However,
Lee says she would like to see more high school teachers, counselors
and administration talk about summer bridge and EOP. She says many
people have the impression that EOP involves only financial aid.
Lee says if she could change anything about the program besides
the promotion of it, she would require the summer bridge to be entirely
residential. Usually, about 60 students live on campus during the
summer. “This makes the bonding even stronger,” Lee
says. She wouldn’t mind if it were mandatory for all students
to live on campus for the program. “That way,” she says,
“everybody gets the same experience.”