By Alycia Washington
Each summer, a group of incoming freshman spend eight weeks at the University of Missouri adjusting to college life, while also earning college credit.
Since 1994, the Summer Transition Program (STP) has bridged the gap between high school and college. The 35 students selected for STP reside on campus, attend workshops, develop leadership skills and earn college credit.
At the end of the eight weeks, students receive a Transition grant of $2,500 to go toward their education at Mizzou. The qualifications for the grant include being a Missouri resident, graduating from an accredited high school, being a member of an underrepresented minority group, and enrolling at MU the first semester after graduation from high school.
Academic Retention Services Student Services Coordinator and STP Coordinator Justin Light finds that students who participate in the program come to campus in the fall with more confidence.
“We have a lot of STP students who will come back in the fall and feel like they are in their second semester already,” Light says. “They’ll help other students navigate campus and new situations because these are things they’ve experienced before.”
During the program, students take a math workshop along with introduction to biology and sociology courses. The first four weeks are spent in the sociology course with second half is spent on the biology course. Students have access to tutoring and workshops built around increasing acceptability and resilience. They also develop relationships with faculty and students to carry them through their college careers.
Gerald Summers, a biological sciences professor, has been teaching biology for STP students since the program began.
“Working with the students is the most rewarding part of being a professor,” Summers says. “It is watching them move along in the material that is the most rewarding part.”
Biology and sociology are two courses that meet prerequisites for many of the schools on campus. Earning those credits over the summer give STP students a head start on earning credits for admission to their schools and also reduces their course load in the upcoming school year. The total cost for the program is $500, which covers student fees, a meal plan and lodging on campus.
With the program being run by the Academic Retention Services, it specifically targets diverse students. Summers wanted to get involved after realizing MU was lacking when it came to recruiting a diverse student body. He has had a long-standing interest in programs such as STP that strive to help students persist academically at MU.
After the program Light finds that although former STP students began to take on leadership roles on campus, they also remain involved in the STP community.
“I have STP students in my office almost every day,” Light says. “The great thing about STP is that during the summer, [students] get connected with a small group—we never have more than 35 students in a group—and form a community with them, but even past that you now have a connection with other STP students from the past.”
The STP program provide students with the tools necessary to be successful in college, while also instilling confidence in them about their academics.
“We try to make sure they are ready to come back in the fall and tackle any challenges that they may find,” Light says. “Thankfully, the program allows our students of a wide variety of experiences to get ready for college so that they feel like they can kick their first year into over drive.”