Incoming University of the Virgin Islands students can turbocharge their chances to test out of first-year remedial classes, saving up to a semester of time and $10,500 in expenses, through UVI’s nearly free five-week Summer Bridge Program.
Positions are still open for the intensive course of summer study, now in its third year. For a fee of $25, students can attend five weeks of classes aimed at boosting their placement test scores for math, reading and writing, while living in the dormitories and learning about college life.
And when the program is done, its students are pre-registered for the fall, giving them a “leg up” on getting the classes they need, according to Jennifer Palmer-Crawford, the director of the program on the St. Thomas campus.
"Because they are selecting classes first, they will be getting the ones they prefer, because most classes are capped at 20 students,” Palmer-Crawford said by phone. “So the earlier students register, the better chance they have of getting the classes they want.”
"They will also be saving time in college and getting familiar with being a college student,” she continued. “They will get to know the campus, faculty and administration."
During the program, participating students get free room and board for five weeks in the dormitories and free classes, materials and textbooks.
St. Croix Bridge Program Coordinator Shari Wiltshire said the schedule of academic classes focus on reading, writing and arithmetic – the same topics covered in placement tests. Students also take a "College Success" class, she said, covering topics from communications skills to career development.
"We are trying to help get them oriented as a young adult and a student, talking about handling personal finances, relating with one another as students, all the things that make a young person’s college career successful," Wiltshire said.
The classes are not for everyone – those who scored more than 490 in the mathematics portion of the SATs and more than 500 on the critical reading section are exempted from the placement tests that the Bridge Program is designed to help with. But for those taking placement tests, the summer classes are a very low cost way to get extra preparation.
According to UVI’s website, a typical UVI student living on campus will spend almost $20,000 per year on tuition, fees, materials, textbooks and living expenses – a little less if they live with their parents and a little more if they live on their own. So a student who places out of all four remedial classes by working hard and applying what is learned in the bridge program could save up to $10,000 by skipping the four remedial English and mathematics classes – a full semester’s load. And they may graduate earlier or have the opportunity to take more classes of their own choosing.
Along with classwork, the program course also exposes students to an array of weekend activities. In prior years, St. Croix students have gone on a scuba discovery dive with St. Croix Ultimate Blue Water Adventures and have heard about all the things that go into making a successful dive shop, from licensing to business operations.
They have visited D & J Shooting Gallery, where they learned gun safety, how to fire a weapon properly, and the ins and outs of running a shooting gallery from proprietor John Canegate.
St. Thomas students have stargazed at UVI’s Etelman Observatory and have held group fun days with other summer program students, beach cleanups and other activities.
This year’s lineup of activities is still being determined.
Students arrive at the dorms June 23 and classes run through July 26. The program is still seeking students, but time is running out.
To apply on St. Thomas, email Palmer-Crawford at email@example.com to get an application and return it before May 3.
To apply on St. Croix, email Wiltshire at firstname.lastname@example.org for an application as soon as possible.
Applications after May 3 will be considered on a case by case basis and all applications must be in before May 31.
The Summer Bridge Program is funded by a Title III federal grant through the U.S. Department of Education and the V.I. Department of Education.