The Summer Bridge Program, a four-week academic and residential experience at the University of California, San Diego designed to prepare incoming freshmen to successfully transition to UCSD and develop leadership skills, provides participating students with important academic, social and cognitive skills that last throughout their freshman year, concludes UCSD educator Patrick Velasquez, Ph.D., in a recent study.
Past research has shown that studentsâ€™ â€śease of transitionâ€? to college life, especially their academic and social adjustment during their freshman year, is critical to their success in college, says Velasquez, director of UCSDâ€™s Office of Academic Support and Instructional Services (OASIS) which conducts Summer Bridge sessions each year during late summer.
â€śWeâ€™ve found this transition period to be especially critical for many low-income, and ethnically underrepresented students attending predominantly white institutions, and for students who are the first ones in their family to attend college,â€? says Velasquez.
In his study of Summer Bridge experiences of 10 UCSD students of color (African Americans, Chicanos, and Filipinos) who participated in the program in 1998, Velasquez found that programs like Summer Bridge help considerably to â€śbridge the gapâ€? to college adjustment for many talented and high-achieving underrepresented students. He will present his findings November 6 at the University of Nebraskaâ€™s annual conference, Recruitment and Retention of Students, Faculty and Staff of Color, to be held in Lincoln.
A previous study of Summer Bridge conducted several years ago by Velasquez yielded similar results.
Launched more than 25 years ago at UCSD to maximize the talents of underrepresented students, Summer Bridge (since the passage of Proposition 209) focuses on students from high schools that historically have not sent significant numbers of students to the University of California. Summer Bridgeâ€™s curriculum includes intensive coursework and experiences in college-level science, math, writing, leadership, group-discussion, group study, contemporary issues, in addition to acclimating freshmen to UCSD student services and organizations, and other aspects of campus life.
The Velasquez study found that students were â€śunequivocalâ€? in describing the positive effects that their participation in Summer Bridge (as well as participation in OASISâ€™ learning center services) had on their transition to UCSD. Through Summer Bridge, students indicated they formed diverse, close networks of peers during program sessions which contributed to their social interaction on campus.
In addition, the academic enrichment exposure in Summer Bridge enhanced the development of their analytical, critical thinking, and communication skills, which aided academic performance and enrollment retention, Velasquez found. Group interaction during coursework (some of which included a strong focus on diversity and equity issues) also contributed to strengthening studentsâ€™ ethnic identity and the formation of supportive relationships with other students -- inside and outside of Summer Bridge, says Velasquez, himself a third-generation Chicano.
In its 25-year history, more than 2,500 UCSD freshmen have gone through the Summer Bridge Program, and since graduating from UCSD, are now serving in such professions as law, medicine, education, science, engineering, computer science, and arts and humanities.