August 22, 2016

Think Summer programs help take heat off students in the fall

Nemelka summer start Indiana native Bryson McKee participated in the five-week Summer Start program as one of a record 260 incoming freshman offered the opportunity to take classes and be eligible for the fall semester. (Purdue University photo/Charles Jischke) Download image

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - A record 260 incoming freshmen will be more prepared for the fall semester after participating in summer programs at Purdue University in 2016.

The total is 219 more than in 2015. This is largely because of the Summer Start and Early Start Engineering programs, said Blake Nemelka, director of summer session. About 74 percent of those taking part in Summer Start are from Indiana. Sixty-four percent of all students attending the summer session were from Indiana.

For some, Summer Start provided a unique opportunity. The program is offered to students who were initially denied entrance for the fall semester, Nemelka said. Upon completion of the summer courses, the students are admitted for the fall semester.

Twenty-two percent of students in the Summer Start program were underrepresented minorities and 44 percent were first-generation college students, which Nemelka said plays an important role both in preparing students academically and diversifying campus to the benefit of all students.

Freshman Bryson McKee from Fort Wayne, Indiana, said the program not only helped him meet the fall enrollment requirements, but it showed him what he would need to do to be successful.

"Summer Start really showed me what college is going to be like, how I need to manage my time and how to study properly," he said. "Without the program I wouldn't be here this fall."

McKee, an exploratory studies major, was part of Summer Start, a five-week, invitation-only module that gives students a head start on their college careers. Other Think Summer programs include Summer Stay, Early Start and Early Start Engineering. All are part of Purdue's strategic initiatives to transform education. Students in Summer Start averaged a 3.3 grade point average.

The number of credit hours taken over the summer by all students increased 12 percent over 2015.

"At Purdue, we are always looking for innovative ways to offer a high-quality education to students in a way that is accessible and affordable," Purdue President Mitch Daniels said. "Our summer programs do that by getting students ready to be successful here or to help them graduate on time or early."

Nemelka hopes the summer programs eventually expand to offer all incoming students the chance to start early and jump-start their careers.  Plans are underway to make this a reality.

"It helps them acclimate and get ready for the fall by introducing them to professors, allowing them to get familiar with campus and connect with other students," he said. "Plus, it can eliminate a semester of school, which adds up to time and money saved." 

Writer: Megan Huckaby, 765-496-1325, 

Sources: Bryson McKee, Purdue freshman

Mitch Daniels, Purdue University president,

Blake Nemelka, director of summer session, 765-494-5296,

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