Return to Program Profiles Elizabethtown College

The Momentum program at Elizabethtown College aims for first-generation students to become informed, responsible, self-directed learners. The program has two related components: a ten-day orientation program in August and a four-year supplemental advising program staffed by a part-time advisor/mentor along with upper class student peer academic advisors. Prior to fall orientation, Momentum students spend ten days preparing to meet the academic expectations of college and becoming acclimated with life on a residential campus in order to give them a running start. The program offers an in- and out-of-class learning environment, with writing as a central theme, engendering the type of student engagement with faculty, peers, and curricula that characterizes the college’s educational program. The hope is that this momentum will be built on and carry students through the next four years.
 
The content of the bridge program included a moment of reflection each morning on the topic of gratitude. That was followed by a discussion about civility and a presentation—conducted by an instructor in the classics—on community, tolerance, respect, and democracy. Each day also included a discussion about such practical areas as time management, study skills, test-taking strategies, tutoring, and how to cultivate a relationship with faculty, staff,  and others. This was followed by presentations by faculty representing various liberal arts disciplines.
 
On the weekend of the bridge orientation, the students visited Philadelphia for a walking tour. In the fall semester, the Momentum students visited Washington, DC, to attend the National Book Festival. In the spring, students visited New York City, particularly to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
 
Each Momentum student was assigned an upper class peer academic Kinesis advisor, (named for the energy behind a momentum). Momentum students met their Kinesis advisors prior to orientation and continued to meet with them once a week throughout the academic year. Following the ten-day pre-orientation program, Momentum students transitioned into fall orientation with their peers in the incoming class. Momentum students then began the academic advising experience with their first-year seminar instructors. Momentum students had their academic advising supplemented through bi-weekly meetings with the Momentum advisor/mentor. In the second semester, first-year students were assigned a new academic advisor in the department of their intended major, and Momentum students continued to have supplemental advising with the advisor/mentor throughout their four years at the college.
 
Finally, many Momentum students chose to live in one of the college’s living learning communities.


Program Outcomes

The Momentum program nearly achieved the goal of increased retention. Momentum student retention was 78 percent compared with 79 percent for all first-time, first-year students. In fall 2011, 34 students started the program. One Momentum student transferred at the end of the fall semester for financial reasons, bringing the number to 33. In fall 2012, 30 Momentum students were retained from the first cohort.  
 
The average GPA for Momentum students in the fall 2011 semester was 2.84. The average GPA for Momentum students in the spring 2012 semester was 2.62. The average cumulative GPA for Momentum students’ first year 2011–2012 reached 2.78. Of the 33 Momentum students completing the first year at Elizabethtown College 15 had a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher. Notably, of the 34 students in the Momentum program the last year, four students received presidential scholarships, six received provosts’ scholarships, 10 received dean’s scholarships. Two of these Momentum students were in the Honors Program, and three represented the class of 2015 in the Student Senate.
 
Staff set a goal for every Momentum student in both cohorts to earn a GPA of 3.0 or higher in each semester for the 2012–2013 academic year. The goal was met—every student earned a GPA of 3.0 or higher, each semester, and the average of the cumulative GPA for each cohort of Momentum was 3.0. Several Momentum students were inducted into the Honors Society for first-year students. The program achieved improved academic performance.
 
The program’s structured summer bridge and advising programs assured that students were introduced to the key resources and strategies necessary for college success. In addition, professional development opportunities were developed for faculty, staff, and student peer academic advisors who implemented the program. Finally, students’ expanded social and cultural capital was evidenced by the essays created by all the participants reflecting on their response to Momentum.


Program Updates

The Momentum program continues.