Hundreds of incoming Tennessee college students are participating in an "academic boot camp" for the next three weeks. The state's 13 community colleges have joined together to host the Tennessee Promise this summer. The program's goal is to help first-generation college students become well-versed in what to expect in college life and terminology - things some of their peers may already be familiar with.
Krissy DeAlejandro is the executive director of Tennessee Achieves, a nonprofit helping administer the program. "Learning the jargon, what's a semester, what's a credit hour? Who do I see around advising? It really is through an intense focus on the lexicon that often first-generation students lack," she says. The voluntary summer "bridge" program offers help to students who would otherwise require remedial classes in their first year of college, before pursuing classes in support of their degree.
While "Tennessee Achieves" has been operating a pilot program for the last four years, additional funding helped expand it this year. DeAlejandro says as many as 97 percent of their participants were able to avoid remedial classes in the fall. Students will also receive intensive training in college-level math and English in order to help level the playing field as they begin their freshman year. "It's a giant confidence booster," she says. "Students who are first generation often feel like they're not college material. Going into this environment and meeting a college professor is a huge win for these students."
The Tennessee Promise program expanded this year, in part because of $400,000 provided by this year's state budget. DeAlejandro says 90 percent of the students in summer bridge programs in 2013 were still enrolled the following year in college.
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