Research in Higher Education

, Volume 54, Issue 5, pp 481–498 | Cite as

Can a Summer Bridge Program Impact First-Year Persistence and Performance?: A Case Study of the New Start Summer Program

  • Nolan L. Cabrera
  • Danielle D. Miner
  • Jeffrey F. Milem


This longitudinal study assesses the impact of the University of Arizona’s New Start Summer Program (NSSP) on participants’ first year GPA and retention, controlling for incoming student characteristics. While programmatic participation significantly predicted first-year GPA and retention, this relationship became insignificant when controlling for first-year college experiences and student development. Programmatic efficacy is largely determined not only by how practitioners develop participants’ cognitive abilities, but also how effectively they connect them to social and academic support networks during their first year of college. Within this context, programmatic impact is likely indirect which poses a number of methodological and resource allocation issues for student affairs administrators and professionals. In addition, it highlights the need to assess the impact of summer bridge programs longitudinally while also having a demographically similar group of students who did not participate for comparison: Two areas generally absent from research on summer bridge program literature. Finally, the study was made possible because of a strong collaboration between the NSSP administrators and the research team, where the goals and needs of each group were supported by the other.


Summer bridge programs First-year retention First-year GPA Racial minority students Low-income students First generation students Assessment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Nolan L. Cabrera
    • 1
  • Danielle D. Miner
    • 1
  • Jeffrey F. Milem
    • 1
  1. 1.Center for the Study of Higher Education, University of ArizonaTucsonUSA

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