Underprepared college students often struggle in their first semester, but an early entry program at Western Kentucky University allows those students to get ahead.

WKU’s Summer Early Entry program allows students to live on campus for five weeks before their first semester. Through the program, students can take developmental and credit-bearing courses, receive tutoring and get to know campus and other students through social events.

“There are a lot of freshmen that come in with these developmental class needs,” said Alicia Bingham, who coordinates WKU’s summer and winter sessions.

Developmental courses are required for any student with ACT scores below 16 on the exam’s English portion and 20 on the math portion, according to a WKU news release. Although those courses are required for enrollment in basic college English and math courses, developmental courses don’t bear credit. They come at an extra cost for students required to take them, which is one reason why Bingham recommends the Summer Early Entry program.

“It really can save the students money and time,” she said.

The program’s fee of $3,350 covers six to seven hours of tuition, campus housing, meal plans and social activities, according to the release. Students are also enrolled in M.A.S.T.E.R. Plan, an orientation program that starts the week before classes begin. The program runs from July 10 to Aug. 10, and applications are available online at www.wku.edu/see/app.php.

More information is available online at www.wku.edu/see.

WKU’s program is optional, while similar programs at other universities are required before students can even enroll, Bingham said. The program began five years ago and typically draws 15 to 40 students, she said.

Over the five-week program, students take at least one developmental program and a credit-bearing course. Developmental courses include Math 096 and English 055. For-credit courses include a university experience course, which is an elective that generally prepares students for college work, and Math 109.

The program also eases students into the social life on campus through several planned activities.

Carlous Yates, director of student support programs, said programming includes a more formal black-tie event for students to dress up and sing karaoke, a kickball tournament and a trip to Lost River Cave, among other activities. Students can also learn about financial aid, study skills and other information through a guest speaker series.

Yates described the program as an “opportunity for them to get a jump start on college life.” He said it’s helped students get ahead on getting employment on campus during the school year, learn more to help other freshmen and generally be better prepared for college life.

“It’s really a good deal for the students,” he said.

– Follow education reporter Aaron Mudd on Twitter @BGDN_edbeat or visit bgdailynews.com.

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Education reporter. Covers education and related issues, focusing primarily on the Bowling Green and Warren County public school districts and Western Kentucky University.

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