When it comes to attending college, there are so many variables students and their families have to consider. Among some of the biggest questions revolve around costs, value of an education, and how the college experience will set the student up for a successful life and career. Most students don't truly get a feel for what college will be like and if a school is right for them until they walk in the door on their first day. But at Chestnut Hill College, the First Year Real-College Experience (FYRE) Program helps students acclimate to college life and get a strong foundation before starting their freshman year. It also gives students the opportunity to get ahead by engaging in real world opportunities and starting coursework that will be credited toward their education. Most importantly, there is absolutely no cost to the student to enroll in the program.
Launched in the summer of 2022 thanks to funding from a U.S. Department of Education Title III Grant, Chestnut Hill College has a four-week summer transition program that helps incoming, first-year students adjust to College by providing academic enrichment, community building, and experiential learning activities. It is designed to orient participants to campus life, introduce them to career exploration and financial literacy programming. Essentially, it gives students a sneak-peek of the ins-and-outs of college life before they officially start their first year on campus.
CHC’s first FYRE cohort had the opportunity to build relationships with students, faculty, staff, and employers, including Maryanne Walsh ’98, ’02, a CHC alum who is currently the Vice President of Client and Employee Engagement at Myonex. Students had the opportunity to travel to Myonex for a site visit, where they met Walsh as well as several employees including fellow alum Meagan LaCroix ‘19, a marketing specialist for the company. Myonex was just one of three site visits the students engaged in as they also visited Kershner Office Furniture and had a virtual visit with the United States Liability Insurance (USLI) Co, Inc. where they learned about USLI’s College Help Program.
"Career visits to employers in the Philadelphia region were one of the most impactful experiences of the FYRE program," notes Charlene Zengeya, Ph.D., Director of Student Outreach & Success, Student Success Coordinator, and Tile III Project Activity Director at CHC. "They gave students an opportunity to make a connection between their desired major, the liberal arts and their desired future career experiences. In addition, these experiences also sparked students' interest in career paths beyond the traditional path.”
The job site visits were in addition to the on-campus component of the program, which saw students introduced to financial literary as well as one three-credit course to be used toward their total academic credits needed to graduate. The program also gave students an introduction to important transferable life skills such as study habits, critical thinking, problem-solving, relationship building, goal setting, and career exploration.
"The FYRE Program gave me a glimpse of what college would be like,” notes Ashley Martinez ‘26. “I met so many great people including the other students in the program and the adults that help CHC run smoothly. But I think the best part was getting to experience a real college course. I felt prepared for when the fall semester started because I had the chance to explore the buildings, walk around campus, and know where everything pretty much is before starting class. I feel like my transition to CHC from high school was smoother because of this program.”
Chestnut Hill College is currently accepting applicants for the Summer 2023 cohort of the First Year Real-College Experience Program. If you are interested in applying or learning more, please visit https://www.chc.edu/summer-transition-program or contact email@example.com. The application closes on May 15, 2023.
- Marilee Gallagher '14