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Summer Start program is successful in its first year

ISSUED: 10 September 2020
MEDIA CONTACT: Valerie Owens

SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV — Some incoming freshmen at Shepherd University were able to get a jump start on their college careers with a new program for first-year students designed to give them a better chance at success. Fifteen students completed Summer Start, a five-week academic program to help them acclimate to college, allow them to earn credit, and give them the chance to meet other incoming freshmen.

Summer Start, which was entirely online this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, addresses students’ needs holistically through customizable course offerings, hands-on academic-focused workshops, and supportive faculty and peer connections.

“I was thrilled with the success of the inaugural program,” said Shannon Holliday, Summer Start program director. “The students enrolled were excited and deeply valued the experience despite being fully online. Faculty were impressed by the hard work and dedication of the participants, as was evident in the fact that all students successfully passed all enrolled courses—an impressive accomplishment for such an accelerated pace. Summer Start is a wonderful summer bridge opportunity that we will continue to build upon so that we may better serve students making the leap between high school and college.”

Participant Isabella Forte, a psychology major from Hedgesville, said enrolling in Summer Start was the best decision she ever made. Forte found it especially helpful to have instruction on how to use Shepherd’s course management system, Sakai, and the Remote Access Information Line (RAIL) system used to register for classes.

“When I got to campus, I was able to help my friends and classmates out with navigating the software we use here at Shepherd,” Forte said. “The Summer Start program helped me to meet virtually my first college friends right alongside my most useful resources. The Summer Start professors and advisors were so extremely welcoming and helpful.”

Forte is also glad that Summer Start allowed her to earn some required credits.

“Doing this made me feel like I was many steps ahead of the game and it allowed me to relax a little bit more when I got here for my fall semester,” she said. “A huge thank you goes out to the professors and other Shepherd staff who helped me through the summer term. I am so glad I enrolled. I highly recommend it.”

Summer Start course offerings included financial literacy, fitness and wellness, first-year seminar, writing and rhetoric, and mathematics. The courses are accelerated while still allowing for individualized attention and the support from peer educators, faculty, and tutors in an encouraging environment.

“Shepherd faculty did an amazing job helping our new rams succeed this summer,” said Dr. Laura Renninger, dean, Ruth Scarborough Library and Center for Teaching, Learning, and Instructional Resources. “Even in these difficult times, everyone rose to the challenge and completed core coursework online in July. Throughout the experience, our new rams learned how to manage their time, study effectively and, best of all, they made new friends. I was pleased to be a part of Summer Start and I look forward to seeing our students thrive.”

Summer Start tuition was $308 for one credit-hour for residents and $745.50 for non-residents. Some academic departments offered scholarships for students who successfully complete the program.

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