It’s Better in the Summer: Building a Successful Transition to College and Fostering Student Success

Glenda Hensley, Lowell K. Davis


Beyond the concept of bridge programs and conditional admission, summer session also offers new students a tremendous opportunity to transition successfully to the rigors of college study and the adjustment to leaving home as they navigate new environments and people. In 2014 Western Carolina University (WCU) launched Catamount GAP, an early-start summer session for regularly admitted students. Modeling best practices from the Academic Success Program, a bridge program for conditionally admitted students, WCU expanded the horizon to promote a first year experience summer program called FYE Summer, a Summer Learning Community program that includes both regularly admitted students and conditionally admitted students. With a pedagogy grounded in the high-impact practices as defined by AAC&U, both programs are designed and staffed to build a solid foundation for success beyond summer. Students earn seven credits in a five-week session that includes support networks, mentoring, and experiential learning and engagement. Students are supported with a case-management team who assist with personal transition, supplemental instruction for academic transition, and co-curricular programming designed to build social interaction and community.

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