SANFORD - Just weeks into her first college semester, Sydney Homesley was struggling with an assignment. Working on a paper for her online class, she needed help formatting the reference page, and the information provided didn't solve her problem. She was in a real jam.
"I was really stressed out about this," Homesley said. "But then I remember talking in the Summer Bridge program about a service the Writing and Reading Center provides, where you can send in a paper and they will give you feedback and help you with any questions you may have.
"This really saved me, and I still use it for all of the writing assignments I have."
Launched earlier this year, Summer Bridge was designed to do just that -- ease the transition for new university transfer students at Central Carolina Community College and help them tap into resources that will help them succeed in the classroom.
Kevin Pearson, who directs Summer Bridge, says the idea is to get new students comfortable on campus even before they begin classes. It also teaches what he calls "soft skills" -- expertise students need to manage their time and schedules, think critically, solve problems, and even communicate effectively with college faculty.
It's done by condensing a one-hour credit course that all university transfer students take into eight days and offering it alone, over the summer, when there are fewer distractions. That course -- listed as "ACA 122: College Transfer Success" -- provides students with information and strategies necessary to develop clear academic and professional goals beyond the community college experience.
"A lot of colleges offer some kind of first-year experience or freshman seminar course, and this is what we're doing at CCCC," Pearson says. "We're combining general academic skills with information specific to our college that students can use from the very beginning."
Another feature of Summer Bridge is a service-learning project where students leave campus to assist the community as one of their course requirements. This summer, they prepared meals and spent time with residents at an assisted living facility in Pittsboro.
The idea is to help students understand that one way to learn and progress in life is to help others and understand their different perspectives and relate that back to their respective college transfer and career plans.
Pearson believes experiences like Summer Bridge are essential for success. He cites studies showing that the transition from high school to college can be overwhelming, and when students can't handle it, they struggle during their first semester -- or even drop out altogether.
Based on student evaluations and comments, Pearson says, Summer Bridge made a huge difference for these incoming students. And his office has been tracking how they have been performing academically in their first semester. So far, so good.
Homesley agrees that the experience helped her succeed from the very start of her college career. "Summer Bridge really got me focused on my school work on a more serious level than I was for high school," she says. "It is a fast-pace program where you do a full semester's work in eight days. This got me used to doing a lot of work very fast, so now I do not have trouble staying on task with the pace of my assignments."
During its inaugural year, 14 students participated in Summer Bridge, and plans are to expand that number in the future. Students last summer received scholarships from Wells Fargo to participate and earn that one hour of college credit at no cost.
Pearson views Summer Bridge as a prime opportunity for students to get a head start on their college educations. And even their careers, since those all-important "soft skills" have a significant impact on job interviews and success in the workplace.
"I can look back and say that if I had something like this, I would've been much more successful with my first semester and, really, with my entire first year," he says. "Getting feedback from students this year showed how they feel more prepared. It's a great opportunity for students and a real help to them being successful in the future."
Students who may be interested in Summer Bridge 2017 can contact CCCC College Success Coordinator/Advisor Kevin Pearson at 919-718-7386 or by email at email@example.com.
To learn more about Central Carolina Community College, visit the website www.cccc.edu.