Thoughts about the Summer Bridge Program

For many, having to give up a portion of summer break to travel to the great unknown of college to attend class a month early would be the equivalent of having a kidney forcibly removed. As I signed the dotted line at New Student Orientation enrolling me in the Summer Bridge program, I didn’t feel as if I was signing an internal organ away, but instead my future. I initialled my name with the ink of hope: for success, for friendship, for the full Jackrabbit experience. Four weeks later my entire life and existence was pre-packaged and jam packed into the back of my family’s minivan, destined for the “Harvard of the Plains” as my grandpa calls it; South Dakota State University. With my anxiety and uncertainty of what was to come in the back of my pocket, I kissed my hometown goodbye and headed north.

If you were to take a high-pressure garbage compressor to an entire semester, the product would be the period of time I was expected to complete two classes. A single day of class was the tantamount of an entire week of a regular semester, with just shy of a month to complete a normal semester long course. Having to move at such a breakneck speed was intimidating. I feared academic whiplash to say the least.

During the first day of Summer Bridge, I found it easy to emerge from my shell of social awkwardness. There’s nothing like a few swell icebreaker games though to create instant bonds and friendships formed by the mutual dislike towards these forced interactions. The staff was also very

welcoming and optimistic about the month that lay ahead; like my own group of supportive soccer moms.

Discerning the lay of the land around campus was a challenge that I would have hoped Sacajawea could have been there for. Buildings all looked identical, sidewalks led me in never ending circles, and the lack of guiding signs when trying to find my way was comparable to the Cheshire Cat from Alice and Wonderland. With faith, trust, and pixie dust (excuse me, my map), I slowly began to learn how to navigate the area. I found the professors to be very accommodating and understanding of the excessive amount of content we were expected to learn, and offered many resources to help in our studying and success.

One of the few complications of the program was the food accommodations, or the lack of them actually. With only a few options open on campus, 100 or so students were more or less left to fend for themselves. I survived on PB&J two meals a day for a solid two weeks because, let’s all agree, Einstein’s bagels and SDSU ice cream is not a diet that can sustain the normal human’s health.

In all honesty, food is the only complaint I have towards the program in its entirety. Four weeks later, my head is still screwed on straight, whiplash free. I currently am not suffering from extreme sleep deprivation, though there were a few nights that consisted of several downed cans of Mountain Dew and cramming for Monday morning exams.

Although at times I felt the loss of missing home and friends, I will wholeheartedly proclaim my satisfaction with the Summer Bridge program and my thankfulness that I did it. I originally signed my name with the ink of hope. In return from that, I achieved the investment of 6 credits and an experience that was worth the kidney.

I kissed my hometown goodbye and headed north.

Hailey is a freshman exploratory studies major. She can be reached at [email protected]

Hailey Kurtenbach, Columnist