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University Uses COVID-19 Relief Funding To Bridge Transitions

Classes begin for summer program aimed at helping students succeed in college

Posted in: Admissions, University

Professor Karmen Yu at a computer with students in masks.
Professor Karmen Yu, adjunct professor of Mathematics, teaches Applied Precalculus during the Summer Bridge Program.

Both inside and outside the classroom, the COVID-19 pandemic has left a generation of high school students without a traditional educational experience. These missed opportunities may leave them less prepared to immediately succeed as they enter college, and some may even be questioning whether or not higher education remains in their future.

To help reverse these trends and get students back on track, Montclair State University is dedicating more than $3 million in pandemic-relief money from the federal government to summer programs, including remedial education for incoming college students and college-path workshops for minority high school students.

“This program carries a lot of meaning for our students and the Montclair State University community,” says Karmen Yu, an adjunct professor of Mathematics who is teaching Applied Precalculus. “It signifies our transition back to in-person learning, the moment that both instructors and students have been longing for since the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The Summer Bridge Program began classes on July 6, with 714 students enrolled in courses to help address learning loss and college preparedness. The students are also engaged in a full spectrum of tutoring and campus activities.

“I can see that students are excited and engaged in their learning and working with each other,” Yu says. “It is a beautiful sight to see a classroom full of students invested in their education once again.”

New Jersey’s federal elected officials were instrumental in passing legislation with funding for higher education in response to the global pandemic.

“Montclair State continues to provide new, life-changing educational opportunities for students, particularly those from traditionally underserved populations,” says U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ). “The COVID-19 pandemic has left an immeasurable impact on our children’s lives, but programs like these are the critical first step towards returning not only to normalcy, but a path that leads to future success.”

Three students in masks in a classroom
Students collaborate in an Applied Precalculus class.

Summer Bridge

The Summer Bridge Program is designed to help incoming students, many of whom participated in hybrid or fully remote learning for the past year, reacclimate to in-person instruction. Students attending July 6 through August 5 will earn up to six college credits toward their degree by taking courses in their major or in general education. The program will also give students the advantage of becoming familiar with the University before their first semester officially begins this fall.

“Developing this type of support for students is why Montclair State University is one of the premier institutions in New Jersey,” says U.S. Congresswoman Mikie Sherrill (NJ-11). “Like so many others, students are in need of assistance to help ensure they’re able to get back on their feet as we begin to emerge from the pandemic. Utilizing relief funding to develop these programs – and more importantly, make them free for students – will have a lasting impact long after these students have graduated.”

Hispanic Student College Institute

Federal coronavirus funding will also go toward the free Hispanic Student College Institute for rising juniors and seniors of Hispanic/Latinx descent. The program provides college planning, career guidance and parent workshops. The three-day college prep program will be held July 26 – July 28.
Montclair State’s recognition as a Hispanic-Serving Institution emphasizes the University’s commitment to Latinx students and their families in increasing access to college, and achieving academic and career success. The University received additional federal dollars for coronavirus relief due to its designation as a Minority Serving and Hispanic-Serving institution.

Pre-College Access Institute

The first Pre-College Access Institute sponsored by Walmart will provide college information for African Americans, Asian Americans, Indigenous Americans, Pacific Islander Americans, Hispanic/Latinx Americans, multiracial Americans, first generation college students, and low income, rising high school juniors and seniors.

This program will run August 2 through August 4. The goal is to increase students’ confidence in their ability to navigate the college admissions process and ultimately enroll at the college or university of their choice.

Participation in all the summer programs requires that all participants be fully vaccinated.

Story by Staff Writer Marilyn Joyce Lehren

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