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Oregon Hosts In-Person Summer Bridge and Launch!

This article was written by Oregon’s director of college success, Cari Allyn Brooks.

Renewing a tradition put on hold by the COVID-19 pandemic, College Possible celebrated its Summer Bridge and Launch! events at Portland State University on Saturday, May 21.

College Possible is committed to reducing “summer melt,” the phenomenon of a high school senior committing to attend college but not showing up for class in the fall. We know that students from low-income backgrounds are more likely to “melt” than their peers from higher-income backgrounds. One way to reduce summer melt is to help students manage the many tasks associated with starting college. These unfamiliar and sometimes intimidating chores can be enough of a barrier that some students just won’t get them done, which ultimately will keep them from enrolling.

Summer Bridge is College Possible’s kick-off to a continuing support effort for our graduating high school seniors to guide them from spring to summer to fall, helping them cross those all-important enrollment items off their lists. The more of these tasks they complete, the more likely they are to enroll in the fall. The Summer Bridge event includes:

  • workshops on the transition to academic life
  • time to meet other rising college first-years
  • opportunity to learn from guest speakers
  • lunch and time to build community with fellow College Possible students and team
  • one-to-one coaching

At this year’s Summer Bridge, volunteers from the community, members of our Board and Ambassador Board, leadership team members, and AmeriCorps members sat down face-to-face with graduating seniors to begin the process of working through an enrollment checklist together. That work is being picked up by our summer transition specialists, who continue to support students as fall approaches.

The May 21 events included lunch, door prizes, and a chance to experience Portland State University’s beautiful Academic and Student Recreation Center, a space provided to us as part of our Collaborate partnership with PSU, for which we are deeply grateful.

After Summer Bridge, we then transitioned into Launch! where seniors were joined by high school juniors, family members, community members, coaches, and staff for a celebration of all we achieved this year! On a rooftop terrace overlooking the PSU campus, students enjoyed a carnival where they could try out temporary tattoos of their favorite coaches’ faces, paint flowerpots planted with succulents to take home, pose for photos with college pennants, and even throw a pie at their favorite coach. This was a day to celebrate all of the steps taken toward college degrees this year, honoring all the efforts and achievements along that path.

Students also had a chance to connect with college admissions representatives from our partner schools, who were on hand to answer questions and share information and college swag. The PSU enrollment staff, in support of our Collaborate partnership, was on hand all day, doing everything from ensuring building access to hauling boxes and tables to not getting upset as the team cleaned up after the aforementioned pie throwing!

Thank you to Alaska Airlines Foundation for their sponsorship of this work.

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