As host of a 21 st Century Scholars support site, the Kokomo campus regularly tracks the college bound entry rate and first-year academic progress of local “Scholars”. It has become evident that many “Scholars” are not as strong academically as we would desire. Typical “Scholars” entering IU Kokomo have an average class rank in the 50-60 percentile and SAT's in the range of 880-940. Our retention rate for 21 st Century Scholars is 10 percentage points below the average entering freshmen rate.
Coming with guaranteed tuition assistance, “Scholars” may assume that this tangible reward is a guarantee that they will be successful. While many of these students are capable of doing college work, they do not have the readiness skills associated with being successful college students. Despite all of the support available to “Scholars” while in high school, there is still a missing piece regarding preparation for college.
These students need a transitional program, one that hones academic skills and also leads each student to recognize that personal commitment, such as the development of good study habits, willingness to seek out help, knowledge of campus resources, and the value of being a member of distinctive learning culture, are essential elements in the success equation. A special summer program can be the key ingredient for many of these students to “jump start” what hopefully will be fours years of advance learning.
The program's goal is to assist participating 21 st Century students to achieve readiness for matriculation in the fall semester into one of our year-long Freshmen Learning Communities (FLC) following their involvement with the program. Placement in a FLC in the fall will continue their transition into the collegiate experience; provide connections to one of the groups of three faculty members who team-teach in FLCs, and link each student to a cohort of peers he/she will stay with for an entire year of study.
The program will focus on ten areas of academic readiness: 1) critical thinking skills; 2) collaborative and interpersonal skills; 3) knowledge of institutional resources, services, personnel; 4) affinity with the academic culture of the campus; 5) understanding text books, 6) using campus computing services; 7) library skills; 8) test taking skills; 9) writing or mathematics readiness; and, 10) confidence in preparation.
Students will achieve these objectives in a summer six-week Freshman Seminar course (S104) and , if needed, either an English writing course or an intensive mathematics preparation embedded in a program of socialization and institutional exploration supported by workshops in library skills, understanding textbooks, and negotiating IU's online enhanced course management system, Oncourse. Collectively, these experiences will ease the student's transition into college-level work, laying a solid foundation for their future academic success. The choice of mathematics versus English writing experience will be dependent on an individual student needs assessment by entry placement tests.