The Lehigh University Summer Scholars Institute, now in its third year, is an intensive threeweek preparatory experience designed for incoming first year students who, in addition to their academic potential, show promise in the areas of leadership and community/civic engagement.
Hosted by Provost's office and Multicultural Affairs, the program provides an academic and social orientation to the life at Lehigh, and promotes personal growth and educational achievement. During the summer session, students work closely with Lehigh professors on projects and research opportunities that expose them to the rigors and culture of Lehigh University. The Institute also prepares the students for leadership and community engagement, while helping them access university resources.
Even students who performed at the highest levels in high school can struggle with academic demands, time management and study skills, organizers say. In addition, the cohort builds healthy and supportive relationships that can sustain them as they navigate the new university terrain.
"We are nurturing these next-generation scholars who are going to be the next thought leaders," says Margarida DaGraca, interim director of the Office of Multicultural Affairs. "They are going to change our world."
"We pride ourselves on fostering student success. A successful student is an engaged student, and the opportunities for engagement at Lehigh are many and varied."
John Simon President
For new undergraduate students, their earliest moments on campus are a whirlwind of activities and an avalanche of information. Stefanie Burke of Lehigh's Office of the First Year Experience says that's just the beginning of a much longer and crucial period.
"The initial 10 weeks of that first semester are critical in creating habits," Burke explained. "We go over a lot in orientation, but we have learned that until students actually experience things, they don't necessarily absorb it all."
To help bolster the success of first-year students, the office created the EvoLUtion seminar. Over those first 10 weeks, roughly 2/3 of their first semester, students are placed into small groups led by faculty, staff and peer leaders. After an initial ice-breaking ropes course experience, the groups meet several times over the semester. During those meetings, they discuss campus culture, identity formation and goal setting for their time at Lehigh. The students also check in individually with their leaders.
"Sometimes students are struggling socially, so this is a chance to discuss how they're getting along with their roommates, to see if they are getting involved in activities," Burke explains. Facilitators will also ask their students how things are going academically and will link them up with resources such as tutoring if they need it.
Associate Director of Residence Life Courtney Stephens underscores the program's intentionality. "Everything we do is focused on an outcome," she notes. "When one of the outcomes can be that you have helped a student find a home and environment in which they can learn and succeed? That's pretty powerful."
Lehigh is addressing high-risk drinking by providing social options that do not focus on alcohol through its Lehigh After Dark program. Events are typically held on the weekend, and include trivia nights, open gyms, entertainment and a a Diner en Blanc "pop-up gala under the stars."
Planning and implementation of the program began in 2012, and stemmed from Lehigh's participation in a National College Health Improvement Project, a collaboration among 34 universities to develop new strategies for reducing high-risk drinking on college campuses.
More than500students honored at the 36th annual honors convocation at Lehigh, which recognizes juniors and seniors who have earned a cumulative grade point average of 3.6 or higher, and many also were selected for major academic awards or honor societies.
230Number of companies that visited Lehigh during the 2015-16 academic year to recruit Lehigh students
60Number of ROTC cadets from six area colleges and universities enrolled in Lehigh’s program in Spring 2016.
96Percentage of Lehigh students who found career-related opportunities, or began graduate school within six months of graduating from Lehigh.
634Number of students served by Office of Disability Support Services