Educational Opportunity Programs (EOP) aim to improve college access and retention for students from first-generation or low-income backgrounds. Students accepted into post-secondary institutions through EOP show potential to persist and complete a degree successfully with financial and academic supports offered by the program.
Many colleges and universities require EOP students to complete a summer enrichment program prior to the start of their freshmen year. Students’ matriculation into the university is often contingent on the successful completion of the summer program, and the summer program also provides students with a preview of college life.
Summer programs range in duration and scope, but typically: students will take a couple of introductory courses, some colleges will offer credits for the courses, and depending on the college, students may live on campus.
Ways you can help:
If your mentee is accepted into an EOP and is headed to a summer enrichment program, you can be a support to them before, during, and after. It may be the first time your mentee is away from home and taking college-level classes. Additionally, the course material may be condensed with frequent assignment deadlines. For both of these reasons, summer enrichment programs may be stressful for your mentee.
Pre-Summer Enrichment Program
Remind your mentee that a summer spent taking classes is not a summer wasted.
If your mentee will be living in a dorm, use your college knowledge to advise them on what to bring. They will likely receive a packing checklist from the program, but some things may be less obvious:
Snacks - Check to see if there is a refrigerator available to students.
Bathrobe - Better to be caught with more than a towel in an emergency.
Blankets - Some dorm rooms are highly air conditioned in the summer months.
First aid kit
If your mentee is given a syllabus or is informed of any assignments before the summer program starts, encourage him or her to work on it beforehand.
Rules - It is likely that your mentee will have to abide by new rules and schedules. Rules could include dress codes, curfews, cell phone restrictions, and visitor limitations, among other things. Remind your mentee that the rules might feel strict, but abiding by the rules will put them on the path to university admission.
Communication - Even though an aspect of summer enrichment programs is to teach students independence, communicating with a familiar person who understands the hardships of college is helpful.
If your mentee is allowed to have a cell phone during the program, do not text them often. Instead, email or call once a week. Listen to their frustrations and anxieties and be supportive. If they are stressed, remind them that they are making this sacrifice for a greater outcome. They can also go to their EOP counselors if they're stressed.
If your mentee is not allowed to have a cell phone, email them and/or schedule phone calls. The program may provide students with access to telephones.
- Encourage your mentee to step out of their comfort zone and make friends. This can be a great opportunity to meet people who will be attending the same college as them. The bonds they build during this time could lead to lasting friendships.
Encourage your mentee to communicate with their instructors in and out of class. Attending optional review sessions is another great way to build a relationship with their instructors.
Post-Summer Enrichment Program
Meet your mentee after a hard summer’s work; reward them with a special treat!
-Laura Guerrero is a PSP student through iMentor and Jennifer Grobe is the National Program Team Associate at iMentor