The Impact of a Summer Bridge Program on First-Generation College Students

Tyler Henson, Tennessee State University


First-generation college students are more likely to leave college after the first year of school than students who have at least one parent with a college degree. First-generation college students tend to struggle with the transition to college because of a lack of preparation for what to expect from their immediate families. These factors often lead to first-generation college students failing to integrate into the academic and social systems of college properly in their first year. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a summer bridge program on the retention, academic integration, and social integration of first-generation students in the first year of college. First-generation college students who participated in a summer bridge program before the start of their first fall semester at a large, regional university in the South were compared to other first-year, first-generation college students who did not participate in the program. A mixed-method study was employed to answer four research questions. Included in the major findings, hypothesis testing revealed that retention and grade performance in the first year were not significantly different between program participants and non-participants, but participants were significantly more involved in official school activities during the first semester. Interviews with program participants supported the quantitative analysis, as students reported the summer bridge program helped them more socially than academically. They also reported that the program had a positive, although perhaps not significant, effect on their ability and decision to return for a second year. Based on the findings of this study, it is recommended for those working in the profession to identify programs that will help first-generation college students better transition from high school to college, prior to the start of their first fall semester if possible, in order to increase their likelihood of success in the first year of college.

Subject Area

Higher education

Recommended Citation

Tyler Henson, "The Impact of a Summer Bridge Program on First-Generation College Students" (2018). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI10787108.