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Summer Bridge Programs for First Gen & Underrepresented Students

a student in a blue button down shirt with a backpack over one should and a white book in the other hand standing in front of a building

Transitioning to college can be an exciting yet intimidating experience, and it's normal to feel overwhelmed! The good news is that a summer bridge program can help with some of your stress by making the transition to college easy and enjoyable.

Here we'll briefly discuss the benefits of summer bridge programs and share an up-to-date list of programs available at the colleges where you might consider applying or enrolling. 

The Benefits of Summer Bridge Programs

Many colleges and universities offer structured summer programs for incoming students to support their academic and social transition to the institution. These cohort-based programs serve as a supportive "bridge" from your high school to your four-year college experience.

Summer bridge programs are often designed specifically to serve communities of students with limited access to higher education, including students of color, students in the first generation of their family to complete a bachelor's degree, students from low-income households, and students whose backgrounds are underrepresented in particular academic disciplines.

You may be apprehensive about dedicating time during your summer to a transitional bridge program, but participating has many benefits. Bridge programs provide early exposure to academic and career resources, create opportunities to meet staff and faculty mentors, and help build friendships with peers.

Some summer bridge programs may allow you to earn college credit and satisfy degree requirements before your first year. While other programs provide financial assistance, sometimes called "startup grants", through a stipend, grant, or purchased technology.

The goal for completing a summer bridge program is that you will enter the fall term with confidence, a network of support, and a strong foundation for success.


Enrolling in a Summer Bridge Program

No two bridge programs are alike, so be sure you review the details specific to the college where you're admitted. For example, summer bridge programs may have a separate application or registration process to be completed after you have submitted your application for undergraduate admission to the college. For other bridge programs, eligible students are automatically considered and selected during the general undergraduate admissions process.

In some cases, selected students may be required to complete the program as a condition of their enrollment at the institution. A conditional offer of admission that depends on successful completion of a summer bridge program may be referred to as an alternative admissions pathway.


If you or your family have any questions about your invitation to participate in a summer bridge program, be sure to contact the program staff or the admissions office.


Colleges With Summer Bridge Programs

Below is a non-exhaustive list of active summer bridge programs at US colleges and universities.

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