The Volunteer Bridge Program, UT’s dual enrollment program with Pellissippi State Community College, is welcoming 210 students this year—the largest group since the program launched in 2011.
Volunteer Bridge is an invitation-only program that gives students the combined academic support and opportunities of both UT and Pellissippi. Volunteer Bridge allows students to live on the UT campus while completing their freshman year at Pellissippi. Upon successful completion of the program, students transfer seamlessly to UT for their sophomore year.
In its first two years, Bridge enrolled 48 to 74 students. Over the next three years, enrollment jumped, ranging from 122 to 175.
“Word of mouth is strong for the program,” said Jason Mastrogiovanni, director of First-Year Studies. “We often have students and parents calling to see how they can sign up for Volunteer Bridge. Students see the value in the academic support the program offers as well as the fun. Volunteer Bridge students are encouraged to participate in UT campus activities and get engaged early on, which makes for an easier transition to UT.”
Volunteer Bridge also provides a way for prospective UT students to use the state’s Tennessee Promise scholarship for the Pellissippi portion of their studies. The Tennessee Promise offers last-dollar scholarships for students to attend the state’s 13 community colleges, 27 colleges of applied technology, or other eligible institutions.
In addition, Volunteer Bridge students can take advantage of the state’s HOPE Scholarship at Pellissippi and at UT, although benefits don’t cover summer enrollment.
Based on data from the last two years, about half of all Bridge students utilized the Hope Scholarship and about one-third took advantage of Tennessee Promise.
Volunteer Bridge students are invited to live in Clement Hall as part of the Volunteer Bridge Living and Learning Community. This year, about 90 percent of Volunteer Bridge students have chosen to live on campus. These students have easy access to UT campus resources and have more opportunities to connect with other students in the living and learning community. Students have both UT and Pellissippi student IDs and can access most facilities and activities on both campuses.
Guided by advisors on both campuses, Volunteer Bridge students must complete 30 transferable credit hours and have an overall GPA of at least 2.5 during their first year of study at Pellissippi. If they meet these requirements, they are guaranteed admission; if they don’t meet the program’s requirements, they can be holistically evaluated for possible transfer admission to UT.
To date, about 64 percent of Volunteer Bridge students have successfully completed the program and transferred to UT.
“Through the Volunteer Bridge program, students are taking control of their academic journey,” said First-
Year Studies Assistant Director Marcus Glover. “I look forward to seeing how these students progress in their future years at UT.”
Amy Blakely (865-974-5034, firstname.lastname@example.org)