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Beautifying banks of White River part of head start on college for some IUPUI students

INDIANAPOLIS – Fifty freshmen IUPUI students interested in tourism and kinesiology will spend the morning of Aug. 14 participating in a service learning project that will beautify the banks of the White River. It’s all part of a program designed to help them do better academically.

They are among about 700 incoming IUPUI students who signed up for Summer Bridge, a two-week voluntary program administered by University College that eases the transition from high school to college. The program began August 5, two weeks before fall classes at IUPUI begin.

The program gives students a head-start, allowing them to meet with faculty, advisors, student mentors and librarians; make friends with other students; receive individualized support for math; begin connecting with a school and major; become acquainted with the campus; and gain experience using instructional technology.

Students in Summer Bridge participate in a range of activities during the program, including classes in which they learn about college-level expectations for reading and writing. Other classes will be devoted to time management, using the library, exploring possible careers and learning about diversity.

Eleven schools at IUPUI are offering summer bridge programs. Students are assigned to a section of the bridge program based on their academic interests or to sections that allow students to explore various academic fields.

The 50 students going to White River State Park are from the School of Physical Education and Tourism Management’s Departments of Kinesiology and Tourism, Conventions and Event Management.

“The White River State Park seemed a natural fit for the school’s first Summer Bridge service project, given the connection with physical exercise and tourism” said Melissa Pohlman, director of student success at School for Physical Education and Tourism Management.

“The beauty of the Summer Bridge program is that it helps students feel prepared to start college,” she said.

As with past Summer Bridge programs, students from the 2012 Summer Bridge program had higher levels of academic performance, with an average fall GPA of 2.95 for participants, compared to 2.81 for nonparticipants and higher retention rates of students from the fall semester to the spring semester, with 92 percent retention for participants, compared to 88 percent of nonparticipants.

Success in retaining freshmen is especially important, IUPUI officials say, because most college students who drop out do so during their freshmen year.