Getting a Jump on College with SPECTRA

Getting a Jump on College with SPECTRA

The SPECTRA Program’s Class of 2015.

For each of the past 32 years, a select group of new students at the College have been getting a pragmatic preview of college life by way of the SPECTRA Program. On Sunday, July 3, 2016, the next wave of participants in this program arrived on campus – more than a hundred strong.

SPECTRA students not only get a head start on their academic work, they also become familiar with campus – and campus icons – before their first semester starts.

The SPECTRA Program (short for Speedy Consolidation and Transition), is open to African American, Latino, Asian and Native American high school graduates who have been accepted to the College for the fall semester. The students who participate are treated to an exciting glimpse of academic and residential life at the college level. They enroll in classes, earn college credit, live in a residence hall and participate in a variety of programs and activities designed expressly to assist them in making the transition from high school to college.

The program is run by the College’s Office of Multicultural Student Programs and Services. Teresa Smith, who directs that office, says, “SPECTRA has been one of the College’s pre-eminent summer transition programs for over 30 years. Students participating in the SPECTRA Program are immersed in living-learning community experiences that offer a real sample of college life. And these students continue to receive academic and personal support, as well as cultural enrichment, throughout their first year by participating in the Mentoring Matters program.”

Students enjoy the camaraderie of class sessions in the SPECTRA program.

Smith is emphatic about the fact that SPECTRA is a purposely challenging program. “We want these students to focus on the academic aspects of their lives. We want them to develop strong relationships with their peers, faculty and staff. We want them to develop effective study strategies, along with strong writing and leadership skills, among other goals. But we definitely support them in these pursuits. We provide tutors, peer counselors and facilitators to help them with such things as test-taking skills.”

That’s not all that SPECTRA provides. The program also covers tuition, accommodations and most of the meals for its participants, though they do have to buy the required textbooks for the courses they take. In addition, the participants enjoy a variety of outings around Charleston, including barbeques and beach trips.

At the end of the five-week program, SPECTRA students will be assigned a mentoring class section that will provide continued support throughout their freshman year.

SPECTRA runs from July 3 through August 5, 2016.