July 27, 2010
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Recent high school graduate Moneisha Cunningham was a successful student who completed a number of AP classes at Birmingham's Ramsay High School. The 18-year-old, who is set to enter college this fall, says learning at the high school level came easy, and it wasn't difficult to maintain her strong grade point average.
But ask Cunningham to describe learning at the college level and the cool, confident tone she uses to describe her high school experience shifts ever so slightly.
"College classes are hard. A lot of the course work is online, and that can be very difficult and is very different from anything I've experienced," Cunningham says.
But a seven-week University of Alabama at Birmingham program that wrapped up in July helped Cunningham and 28 others bridge the sometimes challenging gap between high school and college.
In its 18th year, the UAB Summer Bridge Program, sponsored by the National Science Foundation and UAB School of Business, was developed for minority high school graduates who plan to major in science, technology, engineering, mathematics or business in college.
Participating students live in UAB residence halls for the duration of program and complete two courses, one in math and one in English, that count for college credit, giving the students six completed class hours on their transcripts before they formally start classes at their universities of choice in the fall.
"With the experience of living in the dorm, you get adapted to living with roommates if you haven't had that experience before because you are a single child, for example," says Jesse Strickland, a Summer Bridge student from Jefferson County's Minor High School.
"We are learning math and English, but they are really teaching us how to manage our time wisely and how to study on our own, which is definitely a different approach from high school," says Imani Turner, a graduate of Homewood High School.
The UAB Summer Bridge Program's coordinators say the experience helps the students hit the ground running in the fall because many of the adjustments that come with transitioning to college life are behind them. Louis Dale, Ph.D., the UAB vice president for Equity and Diversity, says more than 90 percent of Summer Bridge participants go on to complete their college degree.
"We have had wonderful feedback from our past participants that this program makes a real difference in their approach to life on campus and their overall success in the classroom," Dale says.
"As far as enrolling in college in the fall, it won't be anything new to me. I'll be used to a college course and how much time it takes to study, and I'll definitely be prepared," Strickland says.
Cunningham agrees. She says she's now better prepared to face the challenges of online courses, less structured study time and more.
"I'm aware of so many important things that I would have otherwise overlooked in the fall. I have experience heading out to buy my own groceries and am in control of my budget so I don't overdraw on my account," Cunningham says. "These personal experiences are as important as any to a successful college transition."
Applications for the 2011 UAB Summer Bridge Program can be secured through the UAB Office of Equity and Diversity.
2010 UAB Summer Bridge Program Participants
A.H. Parker High School Bessemer City High School
Jean-Luc Adams Katrina Crenshaw
Fairfield High School G.W. Carver High School
Tyesha Washington Davida Dawson
Homewood High School Houston Academy
Darrell Davis, Jr.; Orlando Hill, II; Andrew Roy Olutomi Akinduro
Imani Turner; Rachel Turner
Huffman High School Minor High School
Cornelius Cody; Willie Williams; Kelsey Wright Jesse Strickland
Pelham High School Pleasant Grove High School
Chineye Asuru; Ashley Craig; Amber McCaskey Jamarey Carter
Ramsay High School Spain Park High School
Nicole Brown; Moneisha Cunningham; Erika Harkness Jaylen Strong
Ariella Jackson; Devin Lewis; Titus Muriuki
Eboni Toney; Georgia Whitt; Andrew Williams
Known for its innovative and interdisciplinary approach to education at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) is an internationally renowned research university and academic medical center and the state of Alabama's largest employer. For more information, please visit www.uab.edu.