It’s officially called the Summer Literacy Clinic, but there’s much more to it than one-on-one reading and tutoring. True, when you enter the library of Roberts PreK-8 School in the Syracuse City School District (SCSD), you see third- and fourth-grade…
Fueling Student Success With SummerStart
First launched by JoAnn K. May nearly 40 years ago, the SummerStart program has fueled the success of thousands of Syracuse University students. Motivated to enhance students’ unique experiences within academics, campus living, building community and more, faculty and staff work to help incoming students establish success personally and while engaging across differences, within their time at Syracuse University and beyond.
Leading SummerStart since 2021 is Kal Srinivas, Ph.D., director of student retention and success, and program manager Alison Fredericks in Student Outreach and Retention (SOaR).
From building inclusion to now supporting international student participation and more, Srinivas and Fredericks have been busy growing SummerStart into the future. The team is driven by goals of inviting the campus community to not only learn more about the importance of the program but also the emphasis placed on supporting the whole student and their individual needs prior to the start of their first year of college.
“A first of many inclusive campus experiences, SummerStart cultivates a mindset of community, support and empowerment, that when combined ultimately works to break down barriers and lead to student success,” says Srinivas. “This approach brings a strong correlation of positive first-year student retention. During 2021 this included a 93% program success rate of students in good academic standing and a 100% rate of students continuing their studies into the fall semester. When viewed in a longer time frame of student retention, success is also found within six-year graduation rates. However, SummerStart requires continued expansion of cross-campus collaboration and communication to further build upon this success.”
Further reviewing the 2021 cohort’s performance into the subsequent fall semester demonstrated a need for strengthened academic student support that continues throughout the first semester of college. To meet this support need, the SOaR team applied for and was awarded a SOURCE Research grant. The grant will fund three undergraduate student research assistant positions, that will be responsible for examining the Syracuse University SummerStart program, conducting research about the program at other universities and proposing recommendations to support future program changes. Additionally, they will provide academic mentoring throughout the fall to further help students stay on track.
The SummerStart Experience
The six-week SummerStart program meets students where they are and helps to build connections between their unique goals, increased independence, campus resources and experiences throughout the summer leading up to the fall semester.
“A must experience if you want to get a head start on the college experience. The benefits stretch from friend groups, staff networking, belonging on campus and so much more. I’m grateful to have been part of such a supportive and diverse program that introduced me to so much of what Syracuse University has to offer,” says Jose Venegas ’25.
Applications are open annually in the spring and highlights of the SummerStart program experience include the following:
- Individualized support.
- The opportunity to earn 7-9 degree credits.
- Community building with faculty, staff and peers.
- Increased time for acclimating to campus life and residential living.
- Opportunities to build confidence.
Supporting Student Success through SummerStart
SummerStart 2022 students will begin arriving on campus the first weekend of July and will quickly dive into a robust SummerStart Schedule. The campus community is invited to email SummerStart or call 315.443.1031 for more information and to learn about opportunities to support SummerStart.