A Summer Bridge Program’s Effect on Student Retention and Grade Point Average

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A small public historically Black college and university (HBCU) is offering the Providing Opportunities with Education and Readiness (POWER), a summer program to improve precollege high school students’ academic performance and subsequent retention once in college. The problem investigated by this study was the low retention rates and grade point averages (GPAs) of first-year college students. Based on Tinto’s integration model, this quantitative non-experimental causal-comparative study examined the difference in students’ retention rates and GPAs between first-year students who participated in POWER and students who did not. Deidentified archival data from 675 first-year students at the study site were analyzed. A Pearson chi-squared test for independence and one-way ANOVA revealed no significant differences in retention and GPA (p = .21 and .18 respectively). The POWER participants had lower retention rates and GPAs than the nonparticipants, hence indicating that the POWER program does not meet the needs of precollege high school students. A white paper was provided to inform the college administrators about the failure of the POWER program in its current form and now, administrators can concentrate on determining other reasons and issues of academic preparedness and social integration than the ones addressed by POWER. The social change implications are that the results of the study brought the HBCU one step closer in finding a program that will indeed improve first-year students’ success.

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