The sun beat down on 246 incoming freshman who chose to get a head start on their studies this summer. Summer Start, an annual program coordinated by EMAS, allows students to take classes, live in residence halls, learn from mentors and engage in service long before the fall semester rolls around.

As a result, students avoid the intimidating first two weeks of freshman year, or what Accelerated Summer Academic Programs Coordinator Owen Hooper calls, the “scariest time for students,” because the program has already served as their transition.

Summer Start: An Evolution

2010:  Summer Start began as a partnership with EMAS and DASA designed to ease the college transition for 47 students in four areas: student athletes, transition students, international students with low English proficiency and at-risk students from the UNC System.

2011:  The program grew to 97 students after the inclusion of two other groups into the program: Native American students and high-achieving biology students from the RISE Program. The change resulted from a different attitude.

“I looked at every student coming to NC State as a student at risk, so I started to believe it should help the success of any student who started in the summer versus in the fall…so we just started adding groups here and there,” Hooper said.

Summer Start also partnered with University Housing, utilizing Residence Advisors and hiring mentors. The program required students to live on campus.

2012: 125 students entered the program from all colleges in the University, except for the College of Management.

2013: All students, except for the College of Management, could participate in the program without an invitation. New partnerships with University Dining, CSLEPS and the Counseling Center revolutionized Summer Start, as well as long-held, supportive alliances with Multicultural Student Affairs and the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity. The students came from 7 different countries worldwide.

A change in orientation

Due to Summer Start’s increased numbers, a new orientation program was provided for admitted students and parents. The session took place before the start of classes this year instead of when class was already in session in order to avoid participants missing sessions due to schedule conflicts with classes.

Next year’s outlook

As the young program continues to flourish, Hooper said he hopes to attract 400 to 500 students next year through advertisements with University Admissions, increased partnerships, and the addition of students from the College of Management. The opening of Talley Student Center will provide more dining options for participants. Talks are underway once again with University Housing to ensure housing for participants on Central Campus. Summer Start will also meet with associate deans and advisors from all colleges to construct a track system for each college, which would give students an outline of recommended courses. In addition, Hooper hopes to replace the USC 101 class requirement in favor of offering introductory courses specific to each college for students to take.

Creative Courses

Future collaborations with the English department would make use of creative course grants, which combined an English course with a feast and famine course this year. The combination broke the barrier across disciplines as students grew crops for their feast and famine course, and then wrote research papers on the crops during English class.

Feedback From 2013 Summer Start Students

Jaylyn Miller (Zoology): “I have noticed that I am more prone to wanting to stay in Raleigh rather than travel home every weekend as a result of homesickness. Academically I am still figuring out my time management skills but because of Summer Start, I have learned that it’s okay to say no.

Jasmin Alsaied (Nuclear Engineering): “Summer Start aided me in preparing me for what college courses were truly like. I got a lot of prerequisites done and had a lot of questions answered for me. I’ve been able to get many courses for my freshman year out of the way, so literally my first semester looks like a clean slate.”

Carson Creamer (Animal Science): “It really helped me build confidence, which sounds small and simple, but it was possibly the most important thing to my success in finding friends and overcoming stress.”

Davis Atkinson (Environmental Engineering and Math): “Summer Start impacted my University career by giving me the confidence and stability necessary to succeed in college. I see many freshmen using the first semester as a time of getting used to living away from home. Because I participated in Summer Start, I find myself making the adjustments much easier than my peers.”