Bridging the Transition

Summer Bridge students participate in team-building activitiesTyler Coffee knew he faced a significant challenge when he received his acceptance letter to Carolina. Like all incoming first-year students, he knew the next step — transitioning to life at college — wouldn’t necessarily be an easy one.

Those brewing challenges weren’t lost on Coffee, and he wanted to make some headway before the start of the fall semester.

“I wanted to immerse myself in the college atmosphere as quickly as possible,” he said.

To do that, Coffee arrived in Chapel Hill in June 2022 with more than 50 other incoming Tar Heels to kick off their Carolina experience early through Summer Bridge. The six-week transition program prepares students for UNC-Chapel Hill through community building, experiential learning and coursework.

Hosted by the College of Arts and Sciences’ Center for Student Success, with support from donors, Summer Bridge provides stipends for the students and covers housing and tuition for six credit hours.

Summer Bridge doesn’t waste time in achieving its goals. Within just a few days of moving into their residence hall, the students attend their first college classes. All participants are enrolled in an English class and have the choice of one of three prerequisite classes in math, chemistry or education.

“We want them to find confidence in knowing that they belong here, that their admissions decisions were not a mistake or a fluke,” said Victoria Chavis, program coordinator for Summer Bridge. “Just because it’s sometimes challenging to succeed here academically doesn’t mean you don’t belong here.”

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