Pellissippi State: Bridge Program helps freshmen jump-start college experience

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More than 50 incoming college freshmen got a jump-start on college life this summer at Pellissippi State Community College through the TnAchieves Summer Bridge Program.

The Bridge Program is designed to provide academic and non-academic support to entering college freshmen whose ACT scores fall below the standards established for college-level coursework. The intention is for the students, through a three-week intensive summer experience, to test out of pre-college-level courses and to feel better prepared for college.

“This is the first time many of these students have been on a college campus, and most of them don’t know anyone else who has ever been on a college campus,” said Mary Monroe-Ellis, dean of Transitional Studies at Pellissippi State.

“This is a time for them to meet other college students; familiarize themselves with the campus; get intensive instruction in writing, reading, and math; and, hopefully, progress enough that they are able to test out of learning support classes.”

This summer was the second year Pellissippi State hosted a Summer Bridge Program. In 2012, the college was the pilot school for the project. In 2013, Pellissippi State received a three-year, $97,435 Access and Diversity Initiative grant from the Tennessee Board of Regents to continue the program.

During the 2013 Summer Bridge Program, which ended last month, 52 incoming freshmen spent three weeks on campus reading and discussing a common book; receiving academic instruction in reading, writing, and math; and hearing from community leaders during “Lunch and Learn” sessions.

At the end of the program, 76 percent of participating students improved or tested out of learning support English classes; 74 percent, learning support reading; and 79 percent, learning support math.

“We were incredibly pleased to see so many students improve their test scores and become better prepared for college and more familiar with the campus,” Monroe-Ellis said.

The TnAchieves Summer Bridge Program has now expanded to Walters State Community College and plans to continue to expand to other community colleges across the state.

For more information about the program, call Pellissippi State at (865) 694-6400 or visit