In its second year, Mississippi State's College Ready Program is providing general education and pre-requisite courses to incoming freshmen who want to get a head start on their college careers.
Administrators say the program is a prime example of university efforts to make sure students have positive experiences, not only academically, but emotionally and socially as well.
This year the successful program was expanded to include a second track called Math Plus, which provides participants with a math pre-requisite class and a study skills class.
"I felt this was a great opportunity to get a head start on my education, while meeting new people and getting used to the college environment," said Jasmin Revels, a current program participant and biochemistry major from Lawrenceville, Ga.
The courses offered in College Ready are among the most sought after by freshmen. Students participate in a living and learning community by taking classes taught exclusively for College Ready students and getting to know new friends, their professors and campus leaders. The 127 participants also are required to live on campus during the program.
Program director and associate art professor Angi Bourgeois said these factors play an important role in creating lasting bonds.
"MSU creates an environment that makes people feel like a part of a community, and that is what makes a difference for the students here," she said. "Academics are very important, but so are the personal bonds students make."
Outside of the classroom, the program helps introduce students to many of the campus organizations available to them. And program faculty and staff go to extra lengths to make sure the students feel confident during the transition from high school to college. Activities include going to the movies, trivia nights and ice cream socials.
"I want the College Ready faculty and staff to help students be successful," Bourgeois said. "We care about the students' grades as if they were our own."