Findings Resources Since one of our main points in our assessment question was to assess whether the Summer Bridge Program was providing adequate resources to the students, we wanted to ask the students if the Summer Bridge Program was where they first heard about the resources and also what resources they have used since starting at USC. When asked the question, “I first learned about the following resources through the Summer Bridge Program workshops”, the majority of students stated that they learned about Career Counseling, Financial Aid, Study Skills and Health Promotion from the program.
0 out of 17 students also stated that they learned about Diversity Centers on campus from the program, which is still the majority of respondents, but was less than the response rate for the other resources. See Figure 1. While the students heard about the majority of USC resources from the Summer Bridge Program, the only resource the majority of students found themselves using was financial aid. This could be because 16 out of the 17 survey participants were NAI scholars and receive a special scholarship. About half of the respondents stated that they used study skills resources on campus.
There was an overall very low statement of use of Career Counseling, Health and Diversity Centers at USC, as seen in Figure 2. Support Another main component of our assessment question was in regard to the support that students may have gained from attending the Summer Bridge Program. The host site was really interested in how they have maintained contact with Summer Bridge staff and faculty, so we asked the students a couple of questions to gauge how they have used the supports provided to them since the program. Advisors.
It was determined that the majority of students meet with their Summer Bridge Program Advisors after they start at USC. 16 out of the 17 respondents had met with their Summer Bridge advisor at least once. Nine respondents had met with an advisor twice. See Figure 3. The survey respondents shared that the main reasons for seeking support from their advisor was in regard to general education requirements, career exploration and major exploration, which is evident in Figure 4. Faculty. When asked the question, “Have you maintained contact with any faculty members from the Summer Bridge Program? , 52. 9 percent of students stated they had not, with 47. 1 percent stating that they had, as seen in Figure 5. Essentially, while the majority of students had not maintained contact, the proportion students of students who had maintained contact was relatively close to half. Transition To gauge the transition experiences for the Summer Bridge Program participants, the survey posed the question, “How do you feel you have adjusted to university life? ” The question was open-ended, which, major themes emerged from the responses.
Fifty-nine percent of respondents stated that they adjusted well. Fourty-one percent of respondents stated that they adjusted to the university, but experienced some struggle. Academic challenges, social challenges, as well as time management challenges were among the most cited. For students facing academic challenges, there were responses like, “The university life was not as bad as the academic life,” and, “I feel like coming from the high schools that I came from, USC has definitely been more challenging than what I experienced in high school. Pertaining to social challenges, a student responded: Very well (eventually) didn’t always feel like that. I used to find USC a very lonely place especially as everyone from summer bridge and NAI had really different schedules and it was hard but now I feel like I’ve found my niche at USC. Health and Wellness While there was no specific question asked in regard to health and wellness, this theme emerged from the open-ended questions.
One of the responses for the survey question, ‘What suggestions or recommendations can you provide in terms of how to improve the Summer Bridge Program for future participants? ” was: Maybe putting more emphasis in mental health. I remember we used to have little seminars with various information and we did take a tour of the health center, but maybe having a whole session devoted to the mental health part of the health center and really laying out the resources that USC has to offer its students.
Another student also mentioned adding a mental health component to the summer bridge program. Implications & Recommendations While the majority of students were able to transition well and used the support and resources provided, some students did have trouble. The recommendations are based on student responses. Resources While students are hearing about the resources on campus initially through the Summer Bridge Program, a lot of them are not using them. Based on their responses to the question about adjustment and transition, academic skills seems to be where they are falling short.
One student even responded, “I know that one class teaches how to study better but I think learning how to really put them to practice will work. ” Another student also responded, “Conduct small academic workshops during the duration of the program”. More time should be spent during Summer Bridge to practice these skills and share the resources available. There could be more academic skills training incorporated into the Summer Bridge program, in the form of ongoing workshops.
These workshops could include, for example, a time management component that teaches students how to use weekly/monthly calendars, keeping track of how they spend their time, etc. Support Some students cited that they struggled to adjust to the University for social reasons. Students expressed the need for more bonding activities during Summer Bridge that might help carry over relationships into their first year of college. A student said, “Adding a few more activities and field trips would probably strengthen the connections between the students.
Another student also implied that there needed to better connection building between the NAI and non-NAI students. This student said: Well maybe there can be a better way for NAI and non-NAI students to mesh together more. I feel like, especially in the beginning of Summer Bridge, NAI students would stick together and wouldn’t really socialize with non-NAI students. NAI students were already well acquainted with each other outside of Summer Bridge which allowed them to have that to their advantage while everyone else came from different backgrounds, not knowing anyone.
I think developing a better sense of overall community would be great, since a lot of those friendships ended after Summer Bridge did. To help with this need of better connections, bonding activities that incorporate, leadership, strengths, and team building could be added to the summer bridge in hopes to build stronger bonds between all students. Health and Wellness Through research, our group was able to find that the University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley) has a similar summer bridge program that was launched in 1973 (Stanley, 2016).
UC Berkeley’s residential six-week summer bridge program is similar to that of USC’s ACS’s bridge program in that they both provide students with an opportunity over the summer to gain course credit at the university and also the opportunity to get to know campus resources before their peers. What is more, students are also paired with advisors and counselors to help assist them in their transition, which provides them with an academic and social support system before beginning college.
The programs differ in that UC Berkeley requires students to take two academic courses, along with a required Personal Wellness course. While a few of the ACS Summer Bridge workshops focused on student health and introduced students to resources on campus and even gave students a tour of the health facility, it might be beneficial for USC to model after the UC Berkeley program and create an entire course on this topic, as students feel that this component would have been beneficial to their transitions.
Limitations Focus Groups Depending on the quantitative data gathered from the survey responses, we intended to develop questions and conduct focus groups to further support student’s responses and gain a better understanding. Due to timing of the survey distribution, we were unable to conduct focus groups. If we had more time, we could have gotten a more in-depth understanding of some of the responses, especially with some of the vague responses.
Based on the themes found, we could have gained more information about why students are not utilizing the on-campus resources available to them or what they recommend to improve their adjustment. Faculty Interviews We also intended to conduct faculty interviews to learn more about the Writing course and Sociology course taught during the Summer Bridge program. We hoped this information would have helped us structure our questions regarding their academic preparedness. Unfortunately, timing did not allow us to interview the faculty for those courses, but we would recommend this in future assessments.