Summer bridge and enrichment programs

Summer bridge and enrichment programs

En Español

There is a wide range of academic and creative summer programs available for students who would like to explore a new area of study (such as engineering or a foreign language) or improve existing skills in writing, music or art, computer programming, etc.

Participating in a summer program can be a terrific boost for an incoming college student. They gain academic, social and personal confidence and are better prepared for the transition to college life. If your student is able to attend a summer program, look into the application process soon because many are competitive and space is limited. Many programs offer financial aid or a scholarship to help cover the cost.

Your student may be invited to participate in a Summer Bridge program sponsored by the college they plan to attend. This is an opportunity for admitted students who have committed to the school (and who may be first generation, from a low-income background, or from a high school that didn’t offer advanced coursework) to spend anywhere from a week to a month on campus over the summer. At some institutions, for students still needing to achieve proficiency in English and/or math, participation in an “Early Start” program is required rather than optional.

What are the benefits?

 Summer Bridge programs are a great chance for students to become comfortable on their new campus and get to know fellow students and faculty and staff ahead of time. They may be assigned a mentor or coach who will help them with the adjustment to college life and coursework. These connections can make a big difference for first-year students’ developing a sense of belonging and adjusting successfully to college.

Other things to know about Summer Bridge programs:

  • Many programs are free (including housing, food, books, etc.). If there is a cost, financial aid will be available to qualifying students.
  • These programs are for students only and are separate from orientation programming (to which parents and families may be invited).
  • Your student may need to take academic placement tests first and complete the FAFSA or Dream Act Application for AB 540 students.
  • Your student cannot work at a summer job during the time they’re attending Summer Bridge.


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  • I've been through the process twice, and you are so right: it is stressful! However, everything works out for the best. My daughter ended up attending a school she didn't even want to see. In fact, the day we went to visit, she decided to leave the tour early, rather than going to the question and answer session. Well, it was the best four years of her life thus far, and she has made lifetime friends and had many wonderful experiences because of her education there. Thanks for sharing. I always love reading your pieces.