Return to Program Profiles Emmanuel College

With support from the CIC/Walmart College Success Award, Emmanuel College implemented the ecEDGE program. In the first year, this was a three-day pre-college bridge program that introduced students to the Emmanuel community, showed them how to access academic and career planning, involved them in cultural and social activities, and then offered ongoing mentoring and support during their first year. The college sought to develop a strong sense of community and cultural awareness among the students in the program.
During the fall semester, students were divided into five groups, each led by peer and faculty mentors. Each peer mentor met with his/her group and the faculty mentor once a week throughout the semester. During the spring semester, group meetings continued with the peer and faculty mentors in order to coordinate activities and events and to reflect on and assess progress. The aim of the year-long program was to schedule at least one major event every month and have smaller events throughout the semester that faculty and peer mentors would lead. Each faculty mentor was given a budget from the overall activities budget to organize events or lead activities. As examples, during the spring 2011 semester, a chemistry professor organized a Trivial Pursuit night that was open to the entire college community as a way to integrate the ecEdge students; a history professor organized a dinner for students; and a professor of political science organized a film viewing and discussion on campus. In addition, a dinner was organized prior to the final examination period to recap the semester and prepare students for their first experience with final exams. Every Friday throughout the semester a lunch was held with professors, ecEdge students, peers, and mentors.

Changes were made for the second cohort in order to expand access and opportunity for additional students and to improve the retention rate. With the financial support of the college, an expanded program called ecPULSE (Emmanuel College Program for Undergraduate Leadership and Scholarship Excellence) was developed to provide an intensive two-week academic residential program as an introduction to the academic rigors of Emmanuel College through which students earned college credit in two of the four courses offered. The program also included experiences for participants to learn the breadth of resources, cultural activities, and leadership opportunities found at Emmanuel and in the greater Boston area. As with the ecEDGE program, during the academic year, students received guidance from faculty, peers, and program staff on how to manage and respond appropriately to the challenges of college life.

Program Outcomes

During the first year of the program (2010–2011) 22 students were involved, and 95 percent completed the first year, which was equivalent to the overall class retention rate. After the fall semester, one student transferred and the original cohort was reduced to 21 students. The average GPA for ecEdge students was 2.94, which was close to the overall average of 3.04 for the class of 2014. The second year results for cohort I were a projected retention rate of 64 percent as compared to the five-year average for the college of 68 percent; the average GPA at the end of the second year was 2.98 for cohort I, compared to 2.83 for the class. Given the at-risk status of first-generation students, these results were encouraging.

There were 55 students in the second year (cohort) of the program, 32 of whom were first-generation. At the end of the first year for cohort II, the average GPA for ecPULSE students was 2.72, slightly higher than the average of the college class of 2015, which was 2.71. Results showed that the retention rate for ecPULSE students was 85 percent. The average first-year retention rate for the college over the previous five years was 79 percent.

Expanded social and cultural capital were surely outcomes of the second year’s ten-day summer bridge. The ecPulse test results demonstrated with 95 percent certainty that the confidence level of students had changed. And, on a Perceived Cohesion Scale the students’ responses showed a clear increase in their sense of belonging.

Importantly, as a result of the CIC/Walmart Award and what has been learned, the college has confidence that introductory material and experiences as well as ongoing mentoring improve the retention and graduation of first-generation students.

Program Updates

The program continued beyond the period of the award. The college was committed to expanding the second year of the program in 2011–2012, and it continued in summer 2012 and the 2012–2013 academic year.