Students outside during the Berea Bridge Program

Berea College

Student Support and Belonging

Student Support and Belonging

Whether it’s your first year or your last, getting through college can be tough, especially for first-generation and economically disadvantaged students who don’t have the resources and connections wealthier students do. That’s why Berea College doesn’t just let students in and let them fend for themselves. Through an array of programming, Berea College students have support transitioning to college, through college, and out of college. We call it the Berea Bridge Program.

Berea Bridge was my very first welcome to Kentucky, with all its glory and collegiate life. It was, in fact, a bridge that connected me with a world full of acceptance, opportunity, and reality. It was a challenging, yet rewarding experience that helped me see how much I could grow with the education I was about to receive once I began classes that Fall.
Osvaldo Flores
Osvaldo Flores Berea College class of 2018

The Bridge In

First-generation students can’t ask their parents what to expect in college. And economically disadvantaged students often come from school systems that don’t properly prepare them for the rigors of higher education. Additionally, first-year students have to learn to cope with a “new normal” that affects them physically, mentally, socially and academically.

Incoming students have the opportunity to preview college life through Berea Bridge. Students spend a summer month on campus, taking classes, working and having fun with other students in their residence hall. Berea Bridge demystifies the college experience, and hopefully students feel less overwhelmed when returning in the fall.

Berea Bridge students visit the Cincinnati Zoo.

Many students experience stressors in college that lead to anxiety, depression, weight gain and unhealthy behaviors. These issues can ultimately lead to students dropping out. To help with this, Berea College has introduced the First-year Residential Experience Supporting Health (FRESH) START. FRESH START teaches students about the eight dimensions of wellness, including emotional, financial, intellectual, occupational, physical, social, spiritual and sustainable wellness.

Maintain Wellness

Approximate number of students seen at White House Clinic's free dental clinic in Berea each day.

The dental clinic provides basic dental care so our students can smile with confidence.

In addition, the Office of Student Success and Transition offers academic coaching to help students navigate their new academic careers and succeed in college.

I am absolutely at a loss for words. This experience has been so great for me, and I could not ask for a better transition to college. Everyone has been so welcoming and helpful, I love all my classes, I love my roommate, my labor position, I love the spirit of the school, I have already made an emotional connection to this school. The campus has felt like more of a home to me than any of my other homes growing up. This is truly the place that I belong.
First-year student

The Bridge Through

Some aspects of the bridge through are built into the Berea College experience. The Labor Program, for example, has always been a means of providing income for students while they attend. And with a student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1, each student can get the personalized attention they need to succeed.

Gain Experience

Number of campus jobs available for students

You'll earn a paycheck to cover expenses while you work toward your degree.

Outside of class and work, Berea College offers students many resources to help them navigate college life successfully. In addition to academic counseling and coaching, there are tutors available in the most challenging subjects as well as writing assistance through the Center for Teaching and Learning. With mental health issues on the rise among college students, Counseling Services is also available to help students cope with the life’s stressors.

Berea College students gather in a common area on campus

A major reason students, especially first generation and economically disadvantaged students, drop out of college is because they feel they don’t belong there. In some instances, being from a low-income household is enough for a student to feel alone. Every Berea student comes to campus with similar economic backgrounds, so they have something in common from the very start. But there may be other reasons a student feels alone, reasons related to race, gender or culture. Berea College offers several accommodations to foster a sense of belonging among students.

The Black Cultural Center and the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center offer space and programming, as do the bell hooks center and Espacio Cultural Latinx. In addition, Berea offers gender-inclusive housing and an environmentally friendly townhouse-style residence option for married students and single parents. Also, the Campus Christian Center, which prides itself on “radical hospitality,” provides interfaith programming and student chaplains for a student’s spiritual needs.

The Bridge Out

Transition Beyond Berea

The average amount provided to each student for an internship experience.

Berea College funds internship opportunities that help students grow, learn and find their career paths.

Amount given to every graduate to help them transition to life after college.

Graduates can use the funds however they choose.

Stipend provided for professional clothing

We provide every senior student with funds to buy professional clothing, and we even take them to a department store where a representative helps them make the best choices.

The Bridge Out is what makes Berea College truly unique. We don’t just confer your degree and shove you out the door. Instead, we provide a path to your next great adventure.

The Office of Internships and Career Development helps students get their foot in the door through paid internships, career planning, and resume writing. They’ll also help you prepare for graduate school, practice interviewing and link students to networking opportunities. In addition, students can access our extensive alumni network and find available positions through Handshake.

Transitioning from college to the next phase of life can be expensive. Fortunately, thanks to Berea’s network of donors, there is funding available to help recent grads in their life after college. Need professional clothing for interviews? There is funding for that. Graduate school exams and applications racking up costs? There is funding to help offset these expenses. There is even funding to help with job relocation expenses.

Ready for Her Moment

Rhea Carter ‘20 shares hows her experiences at Berea College led her to the “experience of a lifetime.”

BereaCorps Group Photo
The Bridge to a Successful Career

BereaCorps is tailored to the needs of recent graduates, to support graduate school applications or job applications, and to help participants figure out whether to stay close to home or give them the confidence and resources to bridge out.