Return to Program Profiles Thomas College

Seventy-two percent of Thomas College’s student population consists of first-generation students, so improving retention of this segment of the student population is critical to the college’s enrollment goals. Building on an already established peer mentorship program and seminars on information literacy, the college used its CIC/Walmart Award to develop the EDGE program with two successful initiatives: a quantitative literacy course, Foundations of Quantitative Analysis, which is required for graduation, and an academic coaching program.
 
The intensive week-long quantitative literacy course is offered in a summer bridge program over eight days in August prior to first-year orientation. It promotes the development of mathematical and statistical skills critical to success in the first year of college. The course was tied with one-on-one academic coaching to provide individualized support to students with identified academic needs. This relationship was continued during the first year through ongoing individualized coaching by a staff member of the college’s Retention Services Office.
 
The bridge program offered a variety of workshops designed for first-generation students. Topics included goal-setting, financial management, wellness and healthy living, time management, learning styles, and study strategies.
 
Each student successfully completing the pre-college element of the program was eligible for a book scholarship of $500. Those returning for the spring semester and who completed academic coaching during the first semester were eligible for another $500 book stipend.


Program Outcomes

Summative outcomes indicate increased retention for the first-generation campus population compared with other students (78 percent vs. 57 percent in 2010 and 72 percent vs. 51 percent in 2011). In addition to these summative outcomes, survey results among student participants indicated high ratings for the program: On a 6-point scale, with 6 being high, the mean rating was 5.22 in 2010 and 5.40 in 2011.
 
The college has since successfully offered a philosophy course during the summer bridge program, thus demonstrating that academically at-risk students can take a reading-intensive course successfully. The institution is strengthened by this curricular success as well as the improved academic performance of the first-generation students who were the targeted campus population for this program.


Program Updates

The college secured additional funding from TD Banknorth, and the program is now fully institutionalized.