December 6, 2013
Scholarships Allow Academic Bridge Freshmen to Live on Campus
Program Aims to Ease Transition from High School to UT Dallas for Primarily First-Generation College Students
Oct. 1, 2013
Approximately 40 freshmen are admitted to the Academic Bridge Program each year. So far, leadership scholarships have been made available to 36 incoming freshmen this fall.
For the first time in its 13 years at UT Dallas, the Academic Bridge Program (ABP) is able to provide its entire freshman cohort the opportunity to live on campus during the academic year.
The additional financial support provided by the University this year assists students with campus leadership scholarships, according to Dr. George Fair, dean of the School of Interdisciplinary Studies and founder of the program. Funding for ABP is provided by UT Dallas, the Texas Legislature and private donations from individuals and organizations such as Hillcrest Foundation, Goodman Networks and TG.
Fair said Academic Bridge students historically have assumed leadership positions on campus; and this scholarship will make it easier for them to continue those roles.
“I think that they benefit from living on campus because the faculty knows that students who are involved with the University – in terms of organizations and other aspects of the University – tend to have a better opportunity to continue in school and stay in school,” Fair said.
Each year, the ABP freshman cohort begins its UT Dallas career in the summer. The students live on campus while attending three classes and participating in campus outings and community service.
Academic Bridge is geared toward students who have a high class ranking, but may not have received a university-track curriculum. Many are first-generation college students.
The program aims to ease the transition from high school to college through advising, mentoring and tutoring, said program director Soli Ghirmai.
Students are selected from urban school districts. From 2000-2012, 66 percent of the students came from Dallas Independent School District.
“I’ve known so many students who are on the bus, on the train getting here to try to meet a 9 a.m. class,” Ghirmai said. “If you have to get up two or three hours earlier to commute between classes and home or going to work, you’re not going to be as involved on campus.”
Each year, the Academic Bridge freshman cohort begins its UT Dallas career in the summer. All the students live on campus while attending three classes and participating in campus outings and community service.
ABP junior Styphanie Anderson said living on campus helped her maintain a balance between studying and socializing before beginning fall classes.
Academic Bridge Statistics
- Approximately 40 freshmen are admitted to the ABP program each year, totaling about 160 ABP students on campus
- From 2000-2012, 66 percent of ABP students came from Dallas
- More than 45 percent major in engineering, science or business management
- Eighty percent return as sophomores with at least a 2.5 GPA
- More than 70 percent graduate – an average well above the University, state and national averages
- Nearly 200 ABP students have graduated from UT Dallas since the program began
“Living on campus takes the strain away from trying to figure out how to get to school on time,” said Anderson, a marketing major from DeSoto. “It eliminates excuses and adds accountability.”
She believes spending more time on campus will offer the 2013 cohort more networking opportunities, from study sessions to prospective internships and jobs.
So far, the scholarships have been made available to 36 incoming freshmen for fall 2013. Ghirmai and Fair hope to offer the opportunity to future classes.
The graduation rate for Academic Bridge students is between 60 and 70 percent, Fair said. Past graduates have become engineers, pharmacists, lawyers, teachers and medical school students.
“I think the campus leadership scholarship is a milestone, and we are trying to document – even though we have been successful in the past – the additional increment of success that living on campus has,” Fair said. “We won’t be able to do that immediately, but over a four-year period, we think we’ll be able to see that.”
Students are selected via written application and personal interview. For more information about applying to the Academic Bridge Program, call (972) 883-2655 or visit utdallas.edu/academicbridge/apply.