Summer Bridge program helping students save time, money for college

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Wallace State (Photo from Facebook)   HANCEVILLE, Ala. — More than 30 graduates of the Wallace State Community College Adult Education program walked across the stage Thursday, June 3, to mark their success of receiving their GED. There were around 80 students who earned their GED or high school diploma through the Adult Education program at Wallace State during the 2020-2021 academic year.   While most commonly known for helping students obtain their GED, the Adult Education program also helps students earn their high school diploma and provides classes that offer credentials which can be used for employment.   “The Adult Education program is not only for those without their high school diploma, but also serves adults who need to improve their skills and abilities to be successful in the completion of their chosen program,” said Suzanne Harbin, vice president for advancement and innovation.   The GED is offered to students who dropped out of school before completing required credits needed to graduate. Classes are offered in person, online and at community sites. Vouchers are offered to students completing classes that will pay for the GED exam. Upon receiving their GED, the students receive a 3-credit-hour scholarship to Wallace State.   The high school diploma credential is for students who completed credits needed to graduate but did not pass the high school exit exam. The Adult Education program helps them prepare for and administers the necessary assessments to receive their high school diploma.   The Adult Education program also offers classes that let students earn credentials they can use in the workforce. The program is currently partnering with the Medical Laboratory Technician program to offer the Medical Lab Assistant certificate in two semesters. Medical lab assistants often work in doctors’ offices and urgent care facilities and are responsible for completing waived testing. Waived testing includes pregnancy tests and tests for flu, strep, etc.   The Adult Education program also offers classes in Manufacturing Skill Standards Council, Phlebotomy, OSHA, WorkKeys Certification, Ready to Work and more. Plans are in the works to offer classes for Certified Nursing Assistant.   Skylar Bolton earned her GED and CNA certification last year after years of starting and stopping her efforts. “I’m so thankful for the Wallace State Adult Education program,” she said at the time. “They’ve encouraged me every step of the way, even when I wasn’t receptive. The teachers and staff are top-notch, and they do all they can to help you succeed.”    Adult Education’s efforts to assist students like Bolton fall in line with Gov. Kay Ivey’s Success Plus Initiative. The Success Plus Initiative addresses Alabama’s increasing need for workers with certificates, credentials or degrees in addition to a high school diploma. By 2025, Alabama will need to add 500,000 high-skilled employees to the workforce in order to fill existing industry’s labor needs and compete for new businesses, according to a report produced by the Alabama Workforce Council’s Statewide Educational Attainment Committee.   For more information about Wallace State’s Adult Education program visit www.wallacestate.edu/adulted, call 256-352-8078 or email adulteducation@wallacestate.edu.

HANCEVILLE, Ala. — The first of two Start Right Summer Bridge sessions is currently underway at Wallace State Community College, and the students who are participating are glad they signed up for the free three-week program. 

The Start Right Summer Bridge program is aimed at recent high school graduates who need a refresher or other educational assistance to avoid taking developmental level math or English courses, saving them both time and money for their college education. A second session will be offered July 11-28.  

Along with sharpening their skills in math and English so that they increase their chances of starting the fall college-level courses in those subjects, the Start Right Summer Bridge program is saving the students up to $1,944 in tuition by avoiding those developmental courses and by earning credits in a freshman orientation class. They are also learning to adapt to college courses, learning about the college and its services and connecting with fellow students and Wallace State faculty and staff.  

Kara Davis, Lindsey Hindman, Isaac Chambers and Seth Whiting are among the first students taking advantage of the Summer Bridge program. 

Davis, of Ashville, recently earned her GED and is planning to pursue a degree in Nursing. She said the perks of the program was the main reason she chose to participate—earning credit for at least one class and getting accustomed to being back in an educational atmosphere after being out of school for five years before earning her GED.  

After completing the Summer Bridge program, Davis plans to begin taking classes at the Oneonta campus in preparation for enrolling in the Nursing program.  

Hindman’s mother found about the program during a Lions’ Pride orientation session and encouraged her to participate. “I agreed with her,” she said. “I think this will help me adjust better to college and do better on placement test and get into Math 100.” 

Hindman, of Gardendale, said online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic was not conducive to learning for her. “When we went to online, I didn’t learn well. I learn better in person, and I feel like during COVID a lot of people fell behind,” she said.  

Along with the benefit of getting up to speed and hopefully avoiding taking a developmental course, Hindman said the experience taking college classes and learning about Wallace State will help her and her friends who will be coming to the college in the fall.  

“The freshman seminar and learning about Blackboard,” she said is one of the benefits “Because when you first start, everyone is going to have to learn how to do that.” 

Like Davis, Hindman also plans to pursue a Nursing degree from Wallace. 

Chambers and Whiting, both of Holly Pond and both planning to pursue degrees in Diesel Technology, decided to register for the Summer Bridge program after learning about it while registering for fall classes at Wallace State.  

Chambers said they only had about a year in classes in person since their sophomore year due to COVID. “Tenth grade we got out half the year, 11th grade we were back and forth, and 12th was our least of them up there.” He found it easy to skate by.  “I definitely did that; that was my fault,” he said. “I was the reason I didn’t learn much.” 

“I knew that I was going to have to take (developmental) math and English classes, so instead of having to go and pay for them and take them and then have to take another math class the next semester, I thought I could do this and get ready for the math and English I need to take,” Whiting said.  

All the students said the classes they are taking in the Summer Bridge program have helped. “I think it’s a great refresher,” said Hindman.  

Christine Wiggins, Title III Coordinator, said along with saving the students time and money, she believes the connections they make and the experiences they have are the other big benefits of the Start Right Summer Bridge program.  

“Aside from the academic benefits, the connections they make with other students and with other key personnel is wonderful,” Wiggins said. “They’re going to start their fall semester with so much more confidence than their peers because they will know their way around campus, and they will have met folks. That’s a huge boost of confidence to already know that stuff and to do it in the time of year where we as a campus are a little bit slower, where we can give more time and have some one-on-one, intentional time to work with them.” 

Rachel White, director of Wallace State’s Student Support Services, recently met with the students to explain their program and appreciated the opportunity to introduce the students to their services.  

“This gives them a nice overview of a lot of the resources they might otherwise not connect with,” she said.  

“We try to expose them to the resources available to them before they get here,” Wiggins said. They’ve been introduced to the tutoring lab and will learn about the library, meet their success advisor and more.  

The program is open to students who scored under 18 on the math and/or English sections of the ACT. If they did not take the ACT, a GPA lower than 2.75 plus a grade lower than a B in Algebra II or English IV is required. Classes are held on campus two days a week and online the other two days. 

The next session will be held July 11-28 at the Hanceville or Oneonta campuses. For more information, contact Wiggins at 256-352-8462 or visit https://bit.ly/WSCCSummerBridge. The deadline to register is July 6.