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KNOXVILLE—Seventy-five freshmen are now studying at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, as part of the new dual-enrollment program with Pellissippi State Community College (PSCC).

Guided by advisers on both campuses, these Bridge Program students are attending the second summer session at UT and taking a set of credit courses to help them adjust to college life and get a head start on their UT degree. The students will take classes at PSCC during the following fall and spring semesters and then, provided they complete thirty transferrable credit hours and maintain a certain grade requirement, they will transfer to UT as sophomores.

This partnership is just one way UT is complying with the Complete College Tennessee Act of 2010. The act is intended to enhance cooperation between colleges and universities in the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) and UT system.

“We absolutely consider this first year of the Bridge Program an overwhelming success,” said Vern Granger, assistant dean of enrollment services and director of undergraduate admissions. “We were able to strengthen the partnership with PSCC, and we were able to develop a program that we think will help students when they transfer to the university.”

Granger said most of the Bridge Program students are from east and central Tennessee, although a handful has come from other states.

“I think the common thread was that they really wanted to come to UT, and they saw this was the best option for them to get admitted and be successful,” he said.

Lauren Poole, a graduate of Collierville High School in Memphis, said she visited other colleges but had her sights set on UT. When she was placed on UT’s admission wait list, she was disappointed—until she got an invitation to participate in the Bridge Program.

“I didn’t want to go anywhere else besides UT,” said Poole, who wants to major in graphic design. “My family members have been UT fans forever.”

Evan Sapp, who graduated from Christ Presbyterian Academy in Franklin, is a member of the pilot class.

Poole, who plans to major in recreation and sport management, had considered the University of Kentucky, the University of Alabama, and the University of Mississippi.

“I got accepted to Alabama and Ole Miss, but I didn’t know anyone going there,” he said. “When I got the Bridge offer, I thought I might as well go to a place where I knew people. And I liked UT when I toured it.”

All Bridge students are taking six credit hours this summer: Public Speaking or Business and Professional Communication and Career and Personal Development.

They’re already registered for their fall courses at Pellissippi.

Both students say they are enjoying being on the UT campus this summer and have appreciated the chance to get a taste of college life before the fall semester begins.

“I like that we’re getting acclimated to UT and we’re making a lot of friends who go here. It will feel like we’re part of it,” Sapp said.

Poole agreed: “I like that the program doesn’t have a ton of people in it. We can all interact and kind of hang out and get to know one another.”

Granger said about sixty of the seventy-five invitees took UT up on its offer to live in a campus residence hall for the duration of the program. The students are housed in Massey Hall, with the young men on one floor and the young women on another.

Bridge students were issued UT ID cards and enjoy library, computer, tutoring and mentoring services, and recreational opportunities on both campuses.

Granger said UT administrators already have several ideas about how to improve on the Bridge Program for next year.

“We’re looking at enhancing it—looking at transportation options for students to make it easier for them to get between UT and PSCC, increasing support programs and advising services, and stepping up communication with prospective students.”

Admission to the Bridge Program is by invitation only; students cannot apply to be part of it.

“Next year’s Bridge students will benefit from what we’re learning this year and have an even better experience,” Granger said.

C O N T A C T :

Amy Blakely (865-974-5034,