Date Approved


Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department or School

Leadership and Counseling

Committee Member

Barbara A Bleyaert

Committee Member

Jaclynn C. Tracy

Committee Member

Raul Leon

Committee Member

Calvin Phillips


In efforts to address college attrition and retention concerns, particularly as they relate to underprepared, underrepresented, and first-generation students, a few colleges and universities have created and implemented transition programs for first-year students such as summer Bridge programs (SBPs). SBPs are designed to assist students with transition challenges, enhance academic preparation, and help them achieve equal footing with other students. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of participants in a summer Bridge program developed and implemented by a public Research I Institution in the Midwest. Participants had graduated from the university and were at the time of interview either employed or working toward an advanced degree. Purposeful sampling was used to identify seven participants who had participated in the SBP during the summers of 2008, 2009, and 2010. Two research questions guided this study: 1. How do participants in one SBP describe their experiences in the program? 2. How do they feel those experiences contributed, if at all, to their academic success throughout their college career and following graduation? A multiple case study approach was used to explore the experiences of college graduates who participated in an SBP and reveal experiences that may have contributed to the participants’ academic and professional success beyond college graduation. The feelings, attitudes, and beliefs of seven participants of the SBP were examined through semi-structured interviews. A cross-case analysis revealed thematic constructs of the SBP that are indicators of individual student success. The themes that emerged and are discussed in the study were transition to college, confidence, community, relationships, diversity, and support. Recommendations drawn from study findings are offered to higher education staff and administrators interested in starting or improving summer Bridge or similar programs.

Included in

Counseling Commons