Transitioning from high school to college can feel like one is climbing the tallest mountain in the world and encountering obstacles along the way. Or it can feel like a wild roller coaster ride with its many twists, turns and surprises.
At least that is how incoming Bakersfield College students would described their journey Thursday.
The college's summer Bridge to BC program, which is described as a one-day "get ready for college bootcamp" by Director Kimberly Bligh, is well underway and ready to ease students' fears and worries. From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the goal is to teach incoming students as much as possible about BC and college life before their first day in August.
"During the day we take them on a campus tour to make sure they know where all their academic and personal resources are," Bligh said. "We take them to every corner of the campus and into the buildings to see what a lecture hall is like."
Students also interact with peers, student and faculty mentors and others to learn more about the transition from high school to college and participate in hands-on activities. Bligh explained students have a chance to use the student portal system, network, discuss ways to overcome college barriers and talk about the road to success, persistence and growth expectations. They also speak to advisers who go over their schedules and recommend any necessary changes and financial aid advisers who ensure paperwork is properly filled out.
"Most of our students are first-generation and they don’t have anybody at home that can fill them in on the gaps on what it means to be a college student," Bligh said. "We’re helping to fill those gaps here."
Many students are nervous about beginning college, and Bligh recognizes that. To address that, there is a Cheers and Fears activity, where students write down what they are excited and fearful about, and then those fears are discussed.
On Thursday, most students said they are fearful about getting lost, regretting their major and failing, while they are most looking forward to making new friends, making their parents proud and their new found freedom.
Incoming students Riley Delk and Corie Richardson both liked that they got a tour of campus and a taste of the college life so they can feel prepared on their first day.
"It’s a good way to get a good background before coming into something that you have no idea about," Richardson said.
Students also created posters that reflect what they feel their high school-to-college journey will entail and the obstacles and resources they will encounter along the way.
Marcelyn Allen, a faculty member in the English for Multilingual Students department and a BC alumna, said she understands the fears students are experiencing because she felt them too.
"I actually remember my first public speaking class and being so nervous that I asked my professor if I could pace outside the classroom and wait until it was my turn to go," she said.
She also sees Bridge to BC benefiting faculty members because it opens their eyes to the various resources available on campus, and they can better help guide students to the help or information they may need.
Bligh said research shows that students who attend Bridge to BC are twice as likely to persist fall to fall, succeed in the courses they are taking, take and complete their college-level math and English classes their first year and complete 30 credits their first year in college.
"It really is my passion to help students navigate through their college journey," she said. "It doesn't matter what your background is ... you will experience anxiety and barriers, and we can address them now."
More than 40 sessions run June through August, and 1,800 to 2,000 students are expected to attend this summer. Sessions are also offered on Saturdays and on the Delano campus.
Bligh said there are still about 2,000 students who have not registered, and spots are still open. For more information, visit www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/sse/bridge-to-BC.