Summer “CState Accelerate Bridge” pilot program helped new students succeed in college

Seventeen students (out of 19 who started) successfully completed a new grant-funded “CState Accelerate Bridge Program” offered during Summer Semester 2022.

The pilot program development was supported through a grant from Ohio Strong Start to Finish, a statewide initiative to increase first year completion of “gateway” college courses such as English and math.

All students in the program were first-time college students, including some entering directly from high school as well as some adult learners.

Students in the 8-week program met from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. twice a week, including a free lunch. Participants were invited to join the program based on the same eligibility criteria as CState Accelerate. The students signed a program contract that identified the requirements for successful completion.

Don Pollock (CState Accelerate Triage Coordinator) and Nick Balle (Instructor, Human and Social Services) served as course facilitators. They worked with Julie McLaughlin, First Year Experience (FYE) Department Chair, to develop course content that was drawn from FYE curriculum.

The Bridge Program used lecture, lab, class discussion, and group activities to help students examine a variety of topics to prepare them for college, including exploring careers, using Blackboard and computer applications, along with learning about time management, study skills, and goal setting.

The students who completed the free Bridge Program earned advanced standing credit for FYE 110, a three-credit course.

Geoff Woolf, Dean of the Humanities & Sciences division, explained, “This program has been in the planning stages for several years. Originally, we designed it as a ‘boot camp’ for high school students getting ready for college that would include math, English, and career exploration activities.”

“As we continued planning– after the College implemented the multiple measures approach for course placement and also scaled up co-requisite instruction, where students get extra support while taking college-level math and English classes– we realized the focus for the Bridge Program should be on holistic preparation for college,” Geoff said.

“The new focus included helping the Bridge students build a community of learners to support each other on their college journey.”

“Also, CState Accelerate restarted during our planning period, and the goals of that program coincided with what we were trying to achieve,” Geoff added.

“As it turned out, our initial planning effort was like a really high quality R&D (research and development) project,” Geoff said. “We started with the thing we thought we wanted to build and ended up with the thing we think we really need.”

Students who completed the Bridge program offered many positive comments:

  • Zharia Wheeler: “At first I wasn’t sure I was ready for college, but as a result of the program, I feel more confident navigating my way through college. I would recommend the Summer Bridge Program for people just out of high school– it helps you build the necessary skills to be successful in college and feel comfortable with the college workload.”
  • Jelena Klink: “I thought college was just like high school, but it’s completely different. The Bridge Program [helped me] with that transition from high school to college.”
  • Mike Puac Diaz: “Before I attended the Summer Bridge Program, I was scared of college, and I thought it would be too much [but] I’ve learned enough this summer that I’ll be ready.”
  • Jake Zellars: “At first I didn’t believe in myself but now I do because of the people around me.”
  • Rian Grimes: “I really loved the Summer Bridge Program. It was really fun and I feel way better prepared.”

Dean Woolf hopes Cincinnati State will be able to offer the Bridge Program to even more students in Summer 2023. “I’d like to see 100 students be able to take advantage of the program next year,” he said.