While most high school students were enjoying their time away from school over their spring break, 15 students from the greater-Springfield area spent the week at Bay Path University completing the College Readiness Bootcamp (CRB) program. The program, modeled off of Bay Path’s successful Academic Learners and Leaders Initiative program for incoming Bay Path first-year students, was open exclusively to high school juniors and seniors from Springfield, Holyoke, and Chicopee.
The mission of CRB was to create a sense of belonging in a university setting for local high school juniors and seniors through a common intellectual and social experience. That was achieved by introducing students to technology-enhanced learning and skills in conflict resolution, critical thinking, team building, negotiation, self-advocacy, and information literacy, among others. Most importantly, this program offered a jump-start to university life for students who may need help transitioning from high school to college.
“When COVID-19 hit, many of the supports traditionally available for students preparing for college weren’t as accessible,” stated Senator Lessor during the October 2021 press conference announcing the grant. “There’s a gap in college readiness, access to support, and success in college, and I want to applaud Bay Path who has been a leader in preparing young people and in particular our young women. That’s what this College Readiness Bootcamp is all about. We’re so proud and excited to see the inaugural class participate in this program.”
After spending five days on the Bay Path campus completing hands-on science labs making yogurt and analyzing fingerprints and blood splatters, writing and math workshops, conversations focused on social-emotional learning, and college foundation sessions aimed at helping CRB students better grasp the admissions, financial aid, and advising aspects of becoming a college student, that inaugural class has now graduated. A moving graduation session attended by the CRB students and their family members and special guests capped off the week of academic growth and personal exploration.
At the end of their week together, students reported an increase in being able to see themselves as a college student and their confidence in interacting with their peers.” I feel like this College Readiness Bootcamp has been an amazing experience to learn about resources that college offers that most students don’t know, especially when you are going to college for the first time,” shared a CRB graduate. “I was given a lot of great knowledge and insight on college life and what to expect. I also got many different points of view on what college is like for students,” shared another CRB graduate. “A lot of my thoughts and reservations about the topic changed during my time here because I was greatly informed on the responsibilities and challenges, along with the pros of being a college student.”
It was an impactful week for the Bay Path staff and faculty involved, too. “Everyone was all-in and so driven. I appreciate that these students were willing to give up their spring break to spend it with us,” shared Erin Boutin, Bay Path University’s Coordinator of Student Academic Support Services and the Director of the College Readiness Bootcamp program. “I hope these students walk away knowing that they can come out of their shells, they can shine, and they can get to know people. We’re all works in progress, and your first try isn’t your only try. Take chances. Ask questions. There are so many people eager to support you.”
The College Readiness Bootcamp program was made possible by a grant from the State of Massachusetts, presented by State Senator Eric Lesser of the First Hampden and Hampshire District, and State Representative Brian Ashe of the Second Hampden District, in October 2021.