Summer Bridge Program Helps First-Year Engineers Find Success

The all-expenses paid program builds skills, fosters sense of belonging


A summer transition program for incoming Vanderbilt freshmen is helping them attain success in the School of Engineering, and beyond.

This is the second year of the Fall Early Start Transition (FEST) I V A L program that will take place July 6-August 3. Thirty students were invited to participate in the all-expense paid program that will provide each of them with a $1,500 stipend at the end of the four weeks.

Many of the students are the first to attend college in their families and have a high or medium level of financial need. The program includes interventions, such as early review of STEM coursework (introductory chemistry and calculus), identifying as an engineer, and professional development skills, like time management, prioritization, and effective study habits.

Students also will work with academic counselors and peer facilitators who will help them develop a study schedule for the fall semester as well as make them aware of campus resources such as STEM tutoring. But most important, the program seeks to build a network of social and community support, so students know where to turn in moments of stress, says Julianne Vernon, associate dean for academic success.

“The main intention is to give students who have little to no exposure to college a safe place to form a community to transition to college courses and college life,” says Vernon. “I hope when they complete the first year they know where and whom to ask for help when they need it. They have a group of peers they can go to for help or for a safe space to relax.”

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