The Urban Experience Program (UEP) helps New Coogs successfully transition from high school to college during their annual Summer Bridge program.
Throughout the summer, UEP successfully held three Summer Bridge programs and hosted over 130 New Coogs on the University of Houston campus, at no cost to the participants. For four days and three nights, the students participated in a summer immersion program led by UEP student leaders. The student leaders helped students work through an integrated curriculum focused on breaking down the barriers to success that students face in their first year of college. Summer Bridge would not be possible without the dedication and passion of the student leaders who volunteered their time to participate.
“The student leaders were passionate and personally I expected orientation-level seminars, but there was not a second that I was bored,” one participant noted. “There was one point where we were in a room for 4 hours and it felt like 30 minutes.”
The Summer Bridge program has grown since it began in 2015, with UEP hosting two Summer Bridge programs in 2016 and adding an additional program in 2017, due to high demand. By working closely with K-12 and community partners, such as the Houston Independent School District, YesPrep, KIPP, and ONEGoal, UEP has identified the needs of incoming, first-generation college students and incorporated them into the curriculum. During the summer, participants attended sessions on how to create and manage a budget and also learned how to navigate difficult college scenarios.
In addition to the UEP student leaders, other departments and groups on campus helped support the students by providing guest workshops.
Kenneth Williams, the guest speaker from Learning Advancements for Undergraduate Cougars of Houston (LAUNCH) shared that attending Summer Bridge is an excellent idea and stated, “Students learn about resources on campus. They learn about overcoming certain rough spots before they arise. The concept of "owning your education" is crucial at the university and in our daily lives.”
This emphasis on creating a network of support was also felt by the students. “All the experiences I had here made me realize [that] UH is a campus full of people who are here to help,” commented another Summer Bridge participant.
UEP would like to thank the following on-campus groups for their support in making Summer Bridge an educational but also fun experience for the students: Campus Dining, Center for Student Involvement, Counseling and Psychological Services, Dearborn & Creggs, LAUNCH, Student Centers, Student Housing and Residence Life, UH Health Center, UH Wellness, TDECU Bank, Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, and the Writing Center.
"Our summer bridge program allows for a deeper connection to college life by teaching incoming freshmen the necessary skills and resources to help them reach their academic and personal goals,” stated Dr. Raven Jones, Director of the Urban Experience Program.
Students left the Summer Bridge Program equipped with academic, social, and financial tools, which will enable them to better cope with the unique challenges faced by first-generation college students.