Students in the Bridge to Success program are getting a jump start on their college education this week at NPCC. Pictured left to right are: Jennifer Red Bear, North Platte; Josue Pop, Lexington and Emmalyn Niles and Mariah Brown, North Platte.
The fall term doesn't officially begin until Aug. 19 at North Platte Community College, but on Monday, students could already be seen sitting in classrooms.
All are part of the Bridge to Success program, a new initiative designed to give students a head start on a college education.
"The program was launched in McCook two years ago," said Bobbi Muehlenkamp, area assistant director of the college's Student Success Centers. "It went over so well there that this year it was expanded to North Platte."
Students qualify for the Bridge program based on their scores on a placement test. Those who fall within a certain range have the opportunity to arrive on campus two weeks early and take a foundational English course. Their tuition, fees, books, room and meals during that time are free.
"Students who have developmental course needs often don't feel comfortable going to college at all," said Muehlenkamp. "The Bridge to Success program gives them a head start by providing one-on-one instruction and allowing them to form relationships with NPCC faculty and staff. That way, if they ever do need help, they are more likely to ask for it and know who to go to."
The Bridge program also speeds up the time a student will need to graduate. By taking the college prep class ahead of time, they won't have to take it as part of their regular course load.
"We have data showing that students in the Bridge to Success program start the semester better prepared than their peers," said Muehlenkamp. "It's also not unusual for them to have a better GPA."
Part of that is because, in the process of knocking out a class early, Bridge students gain valuable study skills and become acclimated to college expectations.
"Every day, we have speakers representing various resources speak to the Bridge students," Muehlenkamp said. "They learn about tutors, advisors, financial aid and everything else that's available to them."
The students also become familiar with the campus, and social activities help them bond with their peers – providing a valuable support group.
"We want them to have a great experience," said Muehlenkamp. "We know that students who are more connected to campus will be more successful."
More information about the Bridge to Success program is available by calling Muehlenkamp at 535-3731 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.