Despite budget cuts EOP welcomes new students

by Ana Ceballos

Courtesy of Brandon Williams

Two of San Diego State’s summer transitional programs, which have been regarded as some of the nation’s finest, have been forced to face difficult decisions in the past year because of the state budget cuts. The Educational Opportunity Programs Summer Bridge and Transfer Bridge provide first-time freshmen and community college transfer students an opportunity to get a headstart on their college educations.

These programs collaborate with SDSU’s enrollment services, career services, assistant deans and other campus related services to allow program attendees to familiarize themselves with the campus in every possible way. The programs are funded by the state budget and donations solicited by Student Affairs, according to EOP Summer Bridge Program coordinator Beverly Warren.

As budget cuts continue to increase, admittance to the programs has become more and more difficult.

The free Summer Bridge Program provides students with room and board, textbooks, academic summer enrollment for up to six units, food, extracurricular activities and transportation for communal students. Of the 700 students that apply for the program, 130 are admitted and only 55 students are chosen for the residential component of the program; the rest are communal.

In 2007, the Summer Bridge Program became solely for residential students, because of a 50 percent reduction in housing expenses, according to Warren.

The program spends approximately $4,000 per student or about $520,000 total.

“Students should take advantage of whatever is free when it comes to education,” Transfer Bridge Program lead mentor and former program participant Claudia Santana said. “It is intimidating and overwhelming to come into a completely new campus, you have to adjust to new counselors, new methods, new buildings all over again to keep your career in track.”

Beginning on Aug. 6, the Transfer Bridge Program is a one-week threeunit course led by EOP mentors.

The program is completely free and requires students to attend the course every day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“It is important to have a support unit and someone to guide these students in their first college experience,” EOP Transfer Bridge Program Assistant Director Cynthia Torres said. “Getting situated will only benefit these students.”

To provide some relief to such students, the EOP center has recently been attempting to work along with the Children’s Center to provide childcare for students while in class.

“Sometimes it is difficult for students to commit to the program, even though it is extremely beneficial,” Torres said. “A lot of our students are parents in need of babysitters or students that have to keep up with a full-time job. Sometimes they can’t find a way to participate in the program.” As a result of these programs, the success rate for Summer Bridge and Transfer Bridge students are higher than the university’s retention rates for the general population, according to Warren. “It connects a marginalized population to our SDSU community,” she emphasizes. “It further ensures that students will not only get into our university but it ensures that they actually complete their degree within the four years.”