Key Coverage

As Detroit Students Settle Into Their First Semester of College, ‘Bridge’ Programs Provide Needed Support

But still, despite excelling in her other classes, Marqell McClendon has struggled in the remedial math class she’s taking during her first semester at Michigan State University.

It’s an unfamiliar scene for McClendon, the valedictorian of her graduating class at Detroit’s Cody High School who’s used to students coming to her for help. Now, the tables are turned. She describes it as “bittersweet.”

Marqell is among a group of recent Detroit high school graduates Chalkbeat is following through their first year of college, for a series highlighting the complex dynamics that make it difficult for students from disadvantaged communities like Detroit to complete college.

The challenges students face — academic, financial, social — are why so many colleges have turned to programs that help ease the transition, from summer bridge programs that provide academic and social support during the summer between high school graduation and the beginning of college to similar programs that operate during the academic year.