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Innovative CORE summer bridge program looks to retain students

Monday, April 2, 2012
Innovative CORE summer bridge program looks to retain students
By Katie Land, news editor

Omar Brown-El, director of Oakland's CMI. 
Since its debut last summer, an innovative Oakland University retention program has met with resounding success, as its initial class of students has completed their first academic semester. The Collectively Oakland Retains Everyone (CORE) Summer Bridge Program connects new freshman students to campus and helps prepare them for their first year of college. 

“The high-energy accelerated learning that occurs during the bridge program is what makes CORE’s summer session different from other programs,” said Omar Brown-El, director of OU’s Center for Multicultural Initiatives. 

“Our goal is to gain as much ground over the summer so that students are better prepared for their first year of college. We also simulate the college experience by mixing extracurricular activities in with the academic requirements.”

The CORE Summer Bridge Program is a free, weeklong residential experience on campus, designed to help new students bridge the gap between high school and college, while building relationships and honing academic skills. Designed for underrepresented students, the program strives to engage students from urban settings.

Students who participated in the CORE summer program have shown a significant increase in their test scores in reading and mathematics. 

After their first Oakland semester, the students earned a median GPA of 2.55, with nine students earning above a 3.0. The summer 2011 program had 39 student participants, with 87 percent retained into the winter 2012 semester.

“The student response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said Brown-El continued. “Students in the program often report that the early experience they gained during the summer prepared them for their first year of college.”

Kayla Fike participated in the CORE Summer Program.
Summer bridge participant Kayla Fike, who earned a 3.8 GPA in her first college semester, said the experience prepared her for school and introduced her to new friends. 

“CORE was a pretty amazing experience,” she said. “We really got a chance to see OU’s campus and to learn what classes would really be like. Coming from high school, I was unsure of what to expect in a college classroom. Becoming familiar with the university environment before starting school here gave me a measure of comfort that I didn’t realize I needed.”

Another goal of the program is to establish relationships between students and program coordinators, and to encourage students meet regularly with CMI advisors and schedule academic counseling sessions throughout the school year. 

Student Jeffrey Watkins also participated in the program, and said he would recommend the experience to anyone about to begin college.

Jeffrey Watkins enjoyed his CORE experience.
“The summer program definitely had an impact on my first semester at OU,” he said. “It got me used to using computers a lot at school, and that wasn’t something I was used to personally. I also really enjoyed networking and made a lot of friends. It was great to have friends and know people before school even started. I didn’t want to be a little fish in a big pond.” 

The CORE Summer Bridge Program was developed by CMI in collaboration with the Academic Skills Center, Advising Resource Center, Office of Financial Aid, Office of Undergraduate Admissions and University Housing. The program is jointly funded through the Division of Academic Affairs and Division of Student Affairs.

This 2012 CORE Summer Bridge Program is scheduled from Sunday, July 15, through Saturday, July 21. For more information or to learn how to enroll, contact the CMI office at (248) 370-4404 or  

For additional information about Oakland summer programs, camps and events, view the OU summer website at