Improving access to Early Start Summer Edge Program

“I thought that the best part of summer edge was realizing that college is not all academics. Academics are plentiful and demanding, of course, but there are so many other things you can do as a university student, and those were some of my realizations at Summer Edge.” — 2022 participant

The Chronicle of Education recently confirmed what alums of UC Santa Cruz’s Summer Edge program have long experienced. Starting early can instill a sense of belonging and prepare new admits for success, especially for those who are low-income or first-generation. More than just earning credits, starting before the rush of fall introduces students to the importance of developing essential relationships with faculty and staff that can enrich their entire academic experience.

This year, to advance access to a summer start, the Division of Undergraduate Education has removed the Summer Edge $50 registration fee, which is one of several initiatives taken to encourage new admits, and particularly transfer students, to take advantage of the opportunity to make degree progress before their first fall. By offering the 2-credit academic success course associated with the program, Kresge 25 - Successful Transfer to the Research University, online, in-person, and in multiple sessions, transfer students have greater flexibility than ever before to start early. The removal of the fee is yet another way to open doors for students. 

An alumna of UC Santa Cruz, Lindsay Osborne, Summer Programs Coordinator of the Summer Session Department, has been working to reduce barriers to the program for all students. “As a first-generation, low-income student myself, if I ever saw a fee that needed to be paid out-of-pocket, I didn’t pursue the opportunity because I just couldn’t afford it.  I don’t want a fee to stop any student from being successful”. Working with Services for Transfer and Re-Entry Students (STARS) and other campus staff to increase access for transfers and other underserved students helped highlight where a registration fee was discouraging the very populations who could benefit the most from the support the program offers. Cross-campus partnerships are a hallmark of UCSC’s broad commitment to students as an HSI / ANAAPSI student-serving institution.

“Although substantial Financial Aid is available for Summer Edge students, it has been a challenge for low-income transfer students to pay the upfront registration fee,” said Sara Radoff, Director of Services for Transfer and Re-entry Students. “Transfer Edge is a phenomenal opportunity, and removing this barrier helps us support access for our local community college transfers.” 

Summer Edge is particularly important for transfer students. Summer session works with programs to ensure that key gateway courses are offered in the program, placing transfer students on an equal footing with continuing students.

A survey of 2022 Edge participants found that the majority of students reported significant gains in access to academic services, including writing and homework support and studying for exams. 96% of first-year and 100% of transfer students would recommend the program to other incoming students. When asked to describe the best part of Summer Edge, students highlighted meeting people or making friends, the activities and events, and getting to learn about campus. 

Registration for the 2023 summer program is open now for all newly admitted students. 

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