From the Vice Provost
Welcome and possibility are two words – and concepts – that have particular meaning for me this year. This summer we welcomed our first grandchild into the world and I am utterly besotted – of course because he’s just so adorable, but also because of all the things that will be possible for him in his lifetime.
And while I was revelling in being a new grandmother, Purdue was welcoming new and returning students to the possibilities of summer enrollment.
In Summer 2016, enrollment at our West Lafayette campus was up 12% over the previous year, in a large part because of two new programs designed to provide access and foster student success: Summer Start and Summer Stay.
You may remember last year when I shared information about Summer Start, a program to admit and welcome students with anomalies in their academic records (high grades but low test scores, for example). In the past, attending our West Lafayette campus as new freshmen might not have been possible for these students.
In the program’s inaugural year, 174 first-year students took advantage of the five-week academic session – 22% underrepresented minorities, 44% first-generation and 74% Indiana residents. They lived on campus, earned seven college credits and upon completion were guaranteed a spot in our 2016 fall freshman class. The program included significant resources to support college transition and academic success, and the Summer Start students who received a 3.0 GPA or higher (81% of them) earned a $1,000 scholarship.
By all accounts, Summer Start was a resounding success. All but two of the 174 students who enrolled are still on campus this fall. These students learned what it takes to be successful at Purdue, and they and their parents were extremely pleased with the quality of the program. In fact, it was so successful, we plan to nearly double its enrollment for Summer 2017. Next year, we will offer it to some students for whom it will be a requirement to continue in the fall as well as to fall-admitted students who want to switch to summer voluntarily, to get a head start on their college careers.
Also in 2016, Purdue offered 100 sophomores and juniors scholarships to study and work at Purdue over the summer. As part of Summer Stay, which is designed to facilitate on-time or early graduation, these students completed up to nine credit hours of coursework and worked at least 140 hours in an on-campus internship or as part of a research team.
A third component of Purdue’s summer initiative is currently in development – Summer Finish. In this program, senior-level students, who would otherwise add a full semester to their Purdue career by graduating in the upcoming December, will be offered a scholarship to complete their degree in the summer. This will allow them to enter the workforce earlier, reduce their overall college costs and possibly reduce their need for student loans.
Our Newest Boilermakers
All of these summer programs reflect Purdue’s continued commitment to students. And as we welcome our newest Boilermakers, the fall class of 2016, evidence of this commitment is pervasive across campus – from freezing tuition for a fifth consecutive year to redesigning foundational courses and applying what we are learning from the Gallup-Purdue Index (GPI) research.
For example, this year’s freshman class is the first to enroll since Purdue unveiled its Leadership & Professional Development Initiative (L&PDI). This program focuses on opportunities inside and outside of the classroom to help students develop 20 competencies – factors that contribute to lifelong success and wellbeing, according to GPI findings. These competencies fall within four broad categories:
- Ways of Thinking
- Interpersonal Skills and Intercultural Knowledge
- Intrapersonal Awareness and Development
As part of L&PDI, all freshmen were able to participate in Gallup’s Strengths Finder – a tool they are using to identify their top strengths so that they can develop intentional strategies for personal development and career preparation. By understanding their inherent strengths at the very outset of their college experience, they are positioned to use their time well so they can make the most of all the possibilities in their lives.
I used the tool myself and learned my top-five strengths are Responsibility, Arranger, Achiever, Input and Learning. It might be a tad bit late for me to make as much use of this as our students, but it is good to know my strengths led me down a well-suited path!
With this new school year, we’re so fortunate to welcome a talented class of young people. Representing 48 of our 50 states and 68 different countries, our freshman class is the most diverse in Purdue’s history. These students are well prepared to succeed in college and beyond and with the resources at their disposal at Purdue, we’re very sure their possibilities are endless.
I hope your school year is off to a fantastic start as well. If/when you or your students want to know more about Purdue, please know I and my staff are here to help.
Vice Provost for Enrollment Management