Return to Program Profiles Ripon College

With the help of the CIC/Walmart College Success Award, Ripon College created a bridge program to help first-generation students prepare for college and make an easier transition to the new challenges they will face. Seventy-six students participated over the two years of the CIC/Walmart Award. The bridge program included reading and writing workshops and a detailed introduction to all the services and opportunities available to students.
During the academic year, students worked with peer mentors and tutors. These students, along with faculty supporters, became an invaluable resource for first-year students. A student/faculty reception early in the fall provided an opportunity for first-generation faculty and staff members to speak with program participants.
During the year, the program offered sessions on study skills, a library orientation, an orientation to technology resources and residential life, and information on financial aid. Social activities were occasionally added to the mix.
Ripon also offered first-generation students career-shadowing internship opportunities that increased students’ understanding of how an undergraduate degree prepares them for a career and, in some cases, leads to post-graduation employment opportunities.  Thirty-one students—nearly half of the program participants—took advantage of the opportunity. Those students were required to make a public presentation regarding their experiences.
Need-based financial assistance also was provided to first-generation students in the form of book vouchers, travel vouchers for students who travel to college from distant states, and meal vouchers for students electing to remain on campus during vacations.

Program Outcomes

The first-to-second-year retention rate for students who completed the 2008 bridge program was 92 percent compared with the average first-to-second-year retention rate of 83 percent over the past 19 years. Thus, significant increased retention was achieved. The job-shadowing program led to improved career awareness among participants.
The CIC/Walmart program also served as a solid basis for the college’s application for TRIO funding. The institution is strengthened by the success of this effort.

Program Updates

Ripon received a TRIO grant from the U.S. government just as the CIC/Walmart College Success Award program ended, so most of the activities begun with CIC/Walmart Award continue. The summer bridge program has been reduced to two days.
Career shadowing is challenging for first-year students because they often have not yet selected a major area of study. Nevertheless, for those participating, the opportunity is highly valued.