KNOXVILLE, TN - It may be July, but classrooms at Pellissippi State Community College are full with incoming college freshman.
More than 100 recent high school graduates on their way to community college in the fall are taking classes at Pellissippi State through the Tennessee Achieves Summer Bridge Program.
"They're getting more than just schooling, they're getting skills that are going to set them up to be successful in life," said Megan Tribble, Tennessee Achieves Finance and Administration Manager. "During the lunchtime, we're bringing in community leaders, business leaders, key contacts at the community college, to talk to them about what it looks like to be successful."
The Summer Bridge Program helps students who do not feel they are not academically or socially ready to enter college feel more comfortable taking the next step in their education.
"When I took my ACT, I did not do so hot, and I think I was just lacking in a lot of skills that I needed to go into college successfully and do well," said incoming freshman Mary Esther Brewer. "I'm learning a lot of basic things that I'll need to know that I didn't necessarily learn in high school."
The Bridge Program was started in 2012. Since then, 2,279 students across the state have completed the three week course.
This year, 876 students are participating across Tennessee.
"They are here to get a heads up for whatever class they are taking, that they need a refresher course to get started," said Tracy Van de Vate, an instructor for the Pellissippi State program. "I want them to become more comfortable with themselves and with their skills and more confident in class."
Tennessee Promise awards scholarships for two years of community college to students around Tennessee, free of charge.
Students who feel like they need a little more help can sign up for the Bridge Program before beginning school where they take classes in math, English, and writing.
At the end of the course, students take a placement test in hopes of getting out of the remedial courses they would have been required to take because of their college exam scores.
For many, it offers a second chance to succeed.
"I'm really thankful that people didn't give up on me because they saw a score and it wasn't great," said Brewer. "The test that I'll take at the end is definitely a second chance, I'm super excited."
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