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Chestnut Hill College: Building Bridges to Opportunity for Philadelphia Students

Earlier this year, Chestnut Hill College became a Bridge partner by committing to serve College Possible students through exclusive events and targeted coaching that exposes them to the opportunities the college offers. We spoke with Director of Admissions, John Solewin, on how Chestnut Hill College will be supporting students this year.

What is Chestnut Hill College most excited for this academic year?

We just welcomed one of our largest, most diverse and most academically gifted freshman classes in history, with students joining us from more than 15 countries.

We officially launched two new academic programs: cybersecurity and law and legal studies. We also recently established the Academic Discovery Program, which enables undecided students to discover their interests and declare a major. What’s more, we just finished building a new state-of-the-art cybersecurity lab on campus. It is truly an exciting time to be a student on our campus.

What challenges and persistence barriers do you observe students facing during their first year of college?

They are in a new environment, surrounded by new people, and often far from home. Some students are not accustomed to sharing a room, others may become homesick. It’s really important for first-year students to realize that if they are feeling anxiety or stress during this new transition that they are absolutely not alone.

I participated in a “Welcome to the Neighborhood” program where faculty, staff and our college president, Sister Carol Jean Vale, went door-to-door in all of the residence halls. This program is a great opportunity to welcome the students and see if they need anything or have any questions. We also hold an involvement fair, where students can learn about different clubs and organizations and get involved right away. Finally, our Director of Student Success, Clare Doyle, and her staff do a great job of advising students so they feel confident they are on the right path.

What additional services does Chestnut Hill College have to support first-generation college students and those coming from under-served backgrounds?

We have a program called the Tichenor-Greer Scholars Program, which is aimed toward first-generation college students. Students admitted into this program are given a $5,000 scholarship and academic support in the form of tutoring, mentoring, an academic success plan, leadership and advising by the director of the program, Jody Markley. Scholars are also given a successful upperclassman mentor and invited to engage in cohort activities that allow them to connect with peers.

The college has excellent student support services that offer tutoring, advising and counseling to students. We also offer free counseling services to any student. These two departments, in conjunction with all of our student life opportunities — such as “Friday’s after Dark” and “Chestnut Hill College Night at the Market,” the latter of which is held in the town of Chestnut Hill and sees more than 100 students come out each week to eat pizza and mingle with faculty and staff — enable students to adapt to college life.

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