Indiana University’s 21st Century Scholars and Community and School Partnerships programs launched a new initiative called The Summer Learning Institute in July. The Institute provides incoming first-year college students with vital information regarding mentorship, academic advising, tutoring, and other skill-building sessions to aid in a freshman's transition to college. The institute also aims to fill in any knowledge gaps students may have lost during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The state was concerned due to the abbreviated senior year as a result of COVID-19,” Vince Isom, director of the 21st Century Scholars Program, said. “So a lot of the things that would normally happen in a student's progress toward graduation, such as the consistency of math and English expectation, was interrupted, and they were worried about the loss of skills.”
The Summer Learning Institute received funding from the Summer 2020 Covid-19 Learning Support Grant, a grant designed to support programs and events designed to help incoming first-year college students have the knowledge and resources necessary to transition into a collegiate atmosphere. As a result of the grant, the Summer Learning Institute provided multiple opportunities for tutoring in both math and English to ensure students’ skill levels are at the level to meet college expectations.
“The Community and School Partnerships Program and 21st Century Scholars Program continue to provide students with the necessary resources for college life,” Yolanda Treviño, assistant vice president for Strategy, Planning, and Assessment, said. “Their commitment to ensuring incoming students are receiving the best and most relevant information is a testament to their dedication to our student body and education as a whole. I am proud to support their initiatives in any way I can.”
The Summer Learning Institute hosted two weekly sessions on Tuesday and Thursdays from 2-4 p.m. from June 30 to July 30. The program was open to all incoming IUB 21st Century Scholars and those high school Gear Up students from around the state planning to attend any college or university. According to Isom, Tuesday sessions primarily focused on the transitional aspect of college, such as focusing on developing a relationship with possible mentors, finding a work-life balance in a college atmosphere, and more. On Thursdays, sessions were primarily tutor oriented, with writing tutors provided by IU’s Writing Tutorial Services and math tutors provided by the Academic Support Center. These tutoring sessions focused on refreshing a student's knowledge as well as common areas of weakness for incoming freshmen.
According to Julia Jennings, director of Community and School Partnerships, another function of the programming was to dispel some common myths around certain aspects of college life, specifically tutoring. “I believe some students view tutoring as something that you only take advantage of when you have suffered a bad semester, and we want students to know that these are resources they should be taking advantage of when they are doing well. It’s just good practice to hone those skills and be successful in their academic career. We want to dispel those myths of seeking help as a weakness.”
“The Institute offered a great opportunity for incoming students to get a jump start and to know what resources are available to support them in that first semester and the first year,” Jennings said.
“The goal of the Institute is to build the skills and provide essential tools to ease the transition from high school to college. To clearly define the difference in expectation so that no one is caught off guard because they were used to high school level expectations.” Isom said.