What Is A Bridging Program A Guide For Undergraduate Students

Every student dreams of having a bright future filled with plenty of opportunities, whether work or business. The first step to achieving that dream is to do better in school and graduate with flying colours. 

Are you planning to enter higher education and welcome university life this coming school year? However, the prospect of entering a university can be daunting and overwhelming. This is especially true for students with a little stream of income.

If you’re a low-income student, everything can be difficult, especially when applying for higher education. You may have tons of guts and willpower to succeed, but your school doesn’t have enough prep courses to help you enter the university. 

Plus, your family might not have enough funds for test prep and tutors. In fact, you probably have a part-time job to support your needs. And if they’re too busy to help, no one might be able to guide you in making informed decisions. This is where bridging programs come in.

In this article, you’ll learn what bridging programs are and how they help students complete their academic life and achieve their dreams. Read on to learn more.

What Is A Bridging Program? 

Bridging education schools create programs that provide opportunities to students with limited support to finish their schooling. They teach students essential mental preparedness, study skills, and course instructions to familiarise them with the experience inside the university.

If you’re a first-generation, low-income, or minority student, there are probably tons of bridging programs suitable for you. All you need to do is search for schools that offer such programs, but luckily, most do.

Although bridging programs come in various forms, they all have the same goal. That is to provide additional educational support to low-income students and help them complete their college life with flying colours. 

Bridging programs can do one or more of the following:

  • Establish partnerships with different schools to provide essential academic tutoring and career coaching.
  • Identify and resolve all the challenges low-income students often face, such as school supplies, living expenses, and other concerns.
  • Offer additional help, such as mentoring, resource planning, and guidance counselling.
  • Help students shift to a four-year university course after earning an associate degree by providing them with transitional support.
  • Offer students a workplace or learning environment that allows them to grow and evolve into well-rounded individuals.
  • Support students and help them adapt to the challenges they may face as university students.
  • Teach students essential social skills that would help them succeed in college. These include patience, empathy, collaboration, cooperation, sharing, respecting boundaries, and listening.
  • Teach students how to study and jot down notes effectively and efficiently.

If you need one or more of the following, you’re probably the right candidate for college bridging programs. Check out your school of choice, and see if there are programs that best suit your status in life.

What Are The Essential Elements Of A Bridging Program?

Bridging programs are essential to your career pathway. They prepare students who lack vital academic skills that would help them succeed in college education and career employment. Also, they help them do better in their future jobs, graduate education, and professional training.

Here are the essential elements of a bridging program:

1. Contextualised Instruction

Contextualised instruction integrates basic academic skills (e.g., math, science, and English), industry knowledge, and appropriate behaviours. It aims to promote knowledge transfer, help students learn individual concepts, and build critical-thinking skills.

2. Career Development

Career development includes career awareness, exploration, and preparation. It aims to improve essential skills that would help you succeed in work. These include work ethics, punctuality, interpersonal skills, teamwork, confidentiality, flexibility, positive attitude, communication skills, and managing personal issues.

3. Transition Services

Transition services offer students essential information and support. These services will help them shift toward post-secondary or occupational programs from remedial coursework or adult education. 

Transition services may include tutoring, coaching, study skill improvement, advising, counselling (e.g., career, academic, and personal), and referrals to a particular support service (e.g., child care and transportation).

Note that career development and transition services will consider the needs of low-income students during their education years and career paths. Sometimes, students also take an international foundation programme in London to learn proper English and boost their confidence.

How Bridging Programs Are Contextualised?

Contextualisation is crucial to an effective bridging program. 

Teaching basic skills to every student through a particular context engages their interest and promotes student retention. Also, it ensures that they’ll be able to gain transferrable and technical skills aside from their basic academic skills.

a. Basic Skills

Students need these skills to understand technical and professional ones. There are two types of basic skills: mathematics and language (writing, speaking, reading, and listening). 

Today, computer skills are also considered another basic skill every student should master. This is because careers these days use computers and other similar technology.

b. Technical Skills

Technical skills are work related. These will help determine if you qualify for a specific position or job. These skills have nothing to do with credentials or certificates. 

Credentials indicate that a student has completed theoretical learning. However, it doesn’t imply that they’re technically equipped to execute a particular work-related task accordingly. 

Nevertheless, theoretical and technical skills can be taught side by side through project-based activities and internships by the industry and the learning facility.

c. Transferrable Skills

Although they’re not work specific, transferrable skills may help improve the technical efficiency of the students. Transferrable skills are mostly related to problem-solving, study habits, communication, time management, interpersonal relations, critical thinking, and analytical reasoning.

Identifying the students’ skill levels is also essential in contextualising a curriculum. This will help determine the type of context to be used, whether general, macro, micro, or vocationalisation)

d. General Context

General context focuses on teaching basic English, mathematics, and reading skills using daily life scenarios, such as going to the supermarket, medical clinic, or school. This can be helpful for students with low English as Second Language (ESL) level.

e. Macro Context

As students learn more throughout the process, they’ll find the general context less motivating. This is where the macro context comes in.

The macro context concentrates on teaching various industries, including manufacturing, healthcare, hospitality, insurance, and transportation. But it has no focus on a particular profession within these sectors. For example, teaching topics about healthcare doesn’t mean a specific course is focused on helping a student become a doctor.

The macro context aims to increase the student’s knowledge about the real world outside the four corners of the institution. This will help them learn more about the industry they’re interested in.

e. Micro Context

The micro context is the opposite of the macro context. It focuses on a specific profession within a particular sector. For example, teaching healthcare to students may emphasise specific topics, such as biotechnology, therapeutics, diagnostics, pharmacology, anatomy, and physiology.

It aims to teach technical skills students would need in their chosen professions. With this, they’ll be able to execute and perform their responsibilities successfully as required by a particular position.

f. Vocationalisation

Vocationalisation concentrates on providing courses that would help students develop or further improve their skills to excel in their chosen field of work. It emphasises the skills required by a specific job, including academic, vocational, and interpersonal.


What Is A Bridging Program

Who Do Bridging Programs Help?

Essentially, college bridging programs help students who come from low-income families. Some types are specifically designed to support students from a particular ethnicity or race.

Bridging programs support students at different phases of their academic life:

  • Some bridging programs support students from their elementary education. This creates a partnership between schools, which aims to immerse students and prepare them for college as early as possible.
  • In some cases, bridging programs focus on the college application process. This starts as early as junior high school, which prepares students by helping them write college essays effectively.
  • Bridging programs also occur during summer. These are often offered by a particular college or institution, which aims to help senior high school or newly accepted students. Such programs provide continuous undergraduate support in the form of internships, etc.
  • Other bridging programs come from a partnership between a university and a local community college. These programs help students from community colleges successfully shift to a four-year university course.

Are You Eligible For A Bridging Program?

Undergraduate bridging programs are specifically developed for students 16 years old and above. These are students with

  • Basic math and reading skill levels (6th grade or above)
  • Intermediate ESL level (to determine proficiency in the English language)

Bridging programs are also for students who

  • Have or don’t have a high school credential
  • Are or have been incumbent employees

Other eligibility requirements may depend on the type of bridging program you applied for and who offered it. You’ll learn more about them once you explore and start the application process.

Is Bridging Programs Ideal For You?

Are you qualified for free lunches? If you are, there’s probably a bridging program designed for you out there.

Also, you may qualify for bridging programs regardless of your family’s income level if you’re a first-generation student or a student of a particular ethnicity or race.

Here are what you might need when applying for a bridging program:

1. A Compelling Grade Point Average (GPA)

GPA is the total average of your grades after a school year. This is crucial to your application. Most schools use GPA to determine whether a student is worthy of their financial support and help. They usually look for students who have compelling grades. That’s why having a strong GPA is essential for your bridging program application.

2. The Eagerness To Alter Priorities

Undergraduate bridging programs are designed to help you prepare for your college education. These will help you develop problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, but for that to happen, you’ll need to set a schedule. This means you have to allot time for your school over other activities.

In other words, you should be ready to resist peer pressure and temptation.

3. Parents Who Can Support You Until The End

When your parents hear you applying for an undergraduate bridging program, they’ll be excited that you’re now a college student. However, are they willing to support you until the end of your school career by lightening your workload at home to give you more time to study? They must learn how to adjust if they want you to enter bridging programs.

4. Teachers And Staff Who Can Support You

For most students, their school acts as their second home. After all, the hours you spend in school are sometimes longer than your home. This is especially true when it comes to projects and some difficult undertakings.

That’s why it’s important to have school staff, teachers, and administrators who can support and make your school life easier so you don’t feel discouraged.

How To Apply For A Bridging Program?

If you’re still in junior or senior high school, a great way to start is to look at the programs offered in your community. Talking to your college counsellor will help you understand the supplemental support available for you, including bridging programs, and complete the application process.

But what if you don’t have a college counsellor to guide you? Here are other options you may consider:

1. Your Favourite Teacher

Talk to your favourite teacher and explain that you plan to attend college. Also, be specific when it comes to your needs. Do you need mentorship? A study skill improvement? Or instructions in subject areas you might be lacking?

Your teacher might help you recommend and search for programs even if you don’t know what they are all about. Also, some bridging programs may ask for teacher endorsements. That’s why talking to your favourite teacher might be helpful.

2. Check Your Prospective College If They’re Offering Bridging Programs

Undergraduate bridging programs are often school specific. Send a letter to your prospective school’s Office of Admission asking if they offer bridging programs for low-income or ethnic-specific students.

You may also use search engine platforms to search for bridging programs offered by your prospective schools. Just type ‘bridging programs X college/university.’

3. Fill Out Online Application Forms

Check your chosen college’s online platform, and look for their online application forms. Once you’ve found it, fill out these forms by answering all the necessary details and personal information.

4. Order Your Transcript Of Records

Your transcript of records (TOR) may include your GPA, which is crucial to the approval of your application. Ask your previous school if they can issue your TOR as soon as possible—this might cost you a couple of pounds.

5. Seek Help With Your Admission Essays

You may search online for how-to guides or ask your teachers, counsellors, and mentors how to write a compelling admission essay. Having another pair of eyes is a big help to the success of your application.

Final Thoughts

Bridging programs provide supplemental educational and emotional support to students from low-income households and specific ethnic groups or races. Aside from financial aid, bridging programs aim to teach all the skills a student needs to succeed in college and the industry. These include basic, technical, and transferrable skills.

To look for bridging programs, ask your community college or search online. Plenty of colleges and universities offer help to students in need.

May 11, 2023
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