Georgia State University Summer Success Academy
Georgia State University has made a major turnaround in the last 5-7 years. Previously they would have been viewed a standard urban university situated in downtown Atlanta with mediocre persistence and student graduation rates. However they have stepped out of the shadows as a leader in urban education. Currently they graduate more African American students and more first generation students than any other school. They have gotten acknowledgement from the White House and national news syndicates for their accomplishments. However one of their defining programs is their summer success academy.
At Georgia State, admission officers identify the at-risk entering freshman. These are young people that have the characteristics that in the past has indicated that they would have a low retention rate. All 300+ begin their college experience in the summer. They take college level courses so they enter their freshman year with seven credits. The extra summer support and focused assistance means that students that traditionally would have been placed in remedial courses are instead earning college credits right away. The summer success academy also provides financial literacy training so new students are coming out with money management skills and an understanding of their financial aid packages and loans. They are also provided direct college counseling and academic skill workshops to strengthen their ability to succeed. There is intensive advisement so students know their college counselor and are grounded in the available resources at the university. Another key component of the program is team building. Through the summer students are in small cohorts that carry through into the school year. This social network continues to give students a sense of belonging and a supportive peer group to lean back on in times of adversity.
Georgia State University's Summer Success Academy as of now does not have a direct relationship with city government.
A similar summer bridge program is the City of San Francisco's initiative, Bridge to Success, connects the city and county to the school district and city college. Through this collaboration all the key partners conducted a scan of student needs and analyzed how policy and practice changes could help their student's succeed. One action the stakeholders developing was a summer bridge program at San Francisco's city college. This summer course would allow freshman entering from San Francisco Unified District to gain seven credits before entering into their freshman college year. Furthermore they would get an early view of college life and how to access resources to be productive. The city and college were able to launch a pilot program between 2011-2012 school year.
However shortly after the pilot the collaboration, Bridge to Success, lost a significant chuck of funding. With a sudden decrease in funding the bridge program ended. Despite this set back, summer bridge programs are acknowledged as being a leading strategy to support entering freshman's success in the higher education institutes. Cities can play major roles in partnering with their community college to support and shape the way summer bridge programs are implemented.
The results from the Georgia State University Summer Success Academy program have been astounding. Out of the 320 highest at-risk entering freshman, that just in 2011 only had a 50% retention rate are now staying at a 87% retention rate.
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