Plymouth State University ‘Summer Ascent’ Program Helps First-year Students Transition to College

The transition from high school to college can be intimidating. Recognizing the importance of establishing a solid foundation, Plymouth State University (PSU) introduced a pilot program in 2017 to help first-year students navigate the transition and to build confidence in their academic, social, and financial skills. After nearly 90 students from New Hampshire participated in the first two years, 73 first-year students in the Class of 2023 completed the five-day, pre-semester “Summer Ascent” program this year. This group included students from 13 states and 28 majors at PSU.

Group of students stand posting for the camera.

“After two successful years of helping students from New Hampshire ease into the college experience, we were thrilled to broaden the group and include out-of-state students in our third Summer Ascent program,” said Marlin Collingwood, Vice President of Communications, Enrollment and Student Life, Plymouth State University. “Students who participated in the first two sessions have not only thrived in the classroom, but have become campus and community leaders using skills and connections they acquired through the Ascent program. We are excited to see what this new group of students will accomplish during their time at PSU.”

Summer Ascent students arrived on campus on Saturday, August 17, and earned two college credits over the course of five days. The “toolkit” course taught in-demand skills, such as blogging, data storytelling, and marketing. The second course focused on PSU’s “four habits of the mind,” which equip students to meaningfully engage with the world by developing problem-solving skills, study skills, and techniques for networking and building relationships. At the end of the week, students showcased their work to campus community members.

The program includes housing, meals, and academic materials at no cost to participating students. Students also took part in activities, such as yoga, hiking, and other outdoor and community pursuits. The program helps students thrive both in and out of the classroom by developing friendships and support networks for their time in college. The full class of more than 1,100 first-year students arrived on campus on Thursday, August 22, and all PSU students began fall semester classes on Monday, August 26.