College's first summer program to prepare incoming freshmen for college life considered huge success

Group photo of the PioPrep students and faculty

The group of 13 incoming freshmen sitting in the Academic Resource Center in Andrews Hall in June learned many valuable tools while they spent three days on campus as part of the PioPREP Academy.

One in particular, was that their education at Marietta College would not be a “sink or swim” experience.

“This is very helpful,” said France Moise ’20, of Naples, Florida. She and her twin sister, Sophia ’20, were two of the 13 incoming freshmen who participated in the summer PioPREP (Prepare, Read, Engage, Persist) Academy, which focused on students who may need extra preparation for college before officially beginning their freshman year. “We’ve spent time on campus when we were being recruited (for soccer), so we are familiar with that part. What is helpful for us this week is that we learn about tutoring and where we can go for help with classes.”

Amanda Haney-Cech, Director of the Academic Resource Center, and Dr. Suzanne Walker, Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education, were part of the team that developed the program.

“This is a bridge program for students who qualify for Writing 060,” Haney-Cech said. By early August, the students had completed two academic courses that they began on campus in June and continued online throughout the summer. “It’s designed to help give them extra support and enrichment, so when they get here in the fall, they don’t feel overwhelmed or behind.”

The students arrived on June 7 and were welcomed by Carlos Nucete ’16, a recent graduate who was also the Jewett Prize winner.

“What was nice is that Carlos also was a student who was in their position coming into college,” Haney-Cech said. “His message for them was not to be afraid to ask for help.”

Haney-Cech said the students responded well to Nucete’s message. The students also met with Community Advisors Amy Castle ’17 and Aaron Johnson ’17, Learning Consultants Curtis Mayo ’19 and Emily Stainbrook ’17, and PioSOAR Orientation Leader A.J. Edwards ’17.

“In addition to knowing the fellow students in their group, they’ll also know the students who have helped this week,” Haney-Cech said.

The second day of the on-campus portion of the program was packed full of mini-workshops that examined online learning, their Writing 060 course with English Professor Tim Catalano, their College 150 course with Academic Support Coordinator Keira Hambrick, and opportunities to explore campus and downtown Marietta.

Nick McCaughhey ’20, of Springfield, Ohio, plans to major in Psychology and minor in Journalism.

“This is going to help with organization skills,” he said. “I knew coming in that there were a lot of expectations. This experience has been good. I haven’t felt overwhelmed. When I learned about (PioPREP), I asked my girlfriend, who goes to another college, if she had done something like this and she said nothing like it was offered at her school. I feel this is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience that Marietta offers.”

After the three-day academy, the students are expected to complete the Writing 060 and College 150 requirements online, which will give them a head start into college life.

“When you think about Marietta College, all of the classes involve writing, so that’s something our students need to be prepared for,” Haney-Cech said. “This is an innovative way to embrace our efforts in retention, and it’s something I’ve wanted since I first started at Marietta. It’s a great opportunity for our incoming students.”