Red and white Jessie Ball duPont logoMore than 200 Wingate University freshmen headed to campus this fall will get a head start on their study skills, special opportunities for experiential learning and an early dose of campus life, thanks to nearly $79,000 in recently awarded grants. The Jessie Ball duPont Fund gave $60,000 and the Wingate Board of Visitors nearly $19,000 to the university for its Gateways to Academic Engagement: Summer Bridge Freshman Seminars.

College students wearing blue T-shirts work on laptops in a classroom.

BIOS students show up to Wingate a week early to get acclimated to college-level science classes.

The program, which brings participants to campus a week before their peers, began in August 2014 with Biology Intensive Orientation for Students (BIOS). It was so successful that University officials decided to extend it to four other subject areas.

Beginning this August, the university will offer the following:

  • Sports Academy, for those majoring in athletic training, exercise science or sport management.
  • All About Business, for accounting, finance, marketing and management majors.
  • Pre-Pharm Plus, for chemistry majors.
  • CSI-Wingate, for those studying criminal justice and psychology.

According to Nancy Randall, vice provost for student engagement, these areas of study were chosen to help meet specific university goals.

“We think of these Summer Bridge programs as extended orientation periods to help students become more successful,” Randall says. “We are trying to focus on programs that recruit more young men as well as ethnic minorities and first-generation college students.”

She said that two years of data showed that BIOS students’ Biology 150 mid-semester and year-end grades were higher than those of students who were not in the program. BIOS students were also more likely to complete their biology courses and return for their sophomore year.

Administrators believe the program works because it not only introduces and reinforces study skills but also helps freshmen engage with their peers, professors, academic advisors, career coaches and residence-hall community mentors.

“In addition to meals and social icebreakers, full-day Summer Bridge programming will include effective college-level academic awareness such as learning styles, note-taking skills, sample college lectures, and the reality of how academic progress, learning assessment and course examinations differ from high school,” the Jessie Ball duPont grant application states.

Students in the program will tour area businesses and agencies and hear from professionals in their fields of study. They will work together on hands-on projects and live in the same residence hall to facilitate study groups and tutoring.

Wingate University expects to spend about $104,000 on the seminars, which are free to participants.

Feb. 16, 2017