Some freshmen who study at New River Community College will live and experience Radford University campus life through an expansion of a partnership between the schools.
The RU Bridge program will focus on selected high school students who aren’t accepted to RU. They will be offered entrance into the program so they will be involved in nearly every aspect of RU student life, such as clubs and organizations, support services, and athletic events.
Those admitted will be judged on a case-by-case basis, according to university officials. A set number of participants has not been determined.
Bridge students will work closely with advisers from both schools to “map out” their goals and plans for success, according to President Brian Hemphill. Students who may need developmental coursework will receive extra help weekly in subjects like English and math, and students will have access to tutors at both institutions.
Students will be required to complete 21 credits and have a minimum 2.0 GPA in order to begin classes at Radford for their sophomore year. Additionally, students must live in university housing the first two years of the program. After year two, bridge students receive an associate’s degree from NRCC as they continue toward a four-year bachelor’s.
The cost of the program for the first year — NRCC tuition, housing, dining and RU fees — is $17,680, more than $3,000 less than the cheapest plan for regular Radford freshman. Participants will pay regular RU costs beginning in the second year. Bridge students are considered RU students for financial aid purposes, according to the outline.
Transportation from RU to NRCC will be provided by Radford Transit, which is adding the Dublin campus as a regular route throughout the school day.
Hemphill said the program will soon be detailed through its own page on RU’s website, but some applicants will be offered the new option when the first denials are sent out in January.
He believes those that choose to participate will be successful.
“Many are close to the admission standard, so we believe they will do really well under this model,” Hemphill said.
“It’s all about student success,” said New River Community College President Pat Huber. “Some students just have to take that first year a little easier.”
While the model is the first of its kind in the state, Hemphill said, schools like Clemson and Coastal Carolina have successful partnerships with its neighboring community colleges, which were used to help model the partnership with NRCC.
Huber and Hemphill said there are not any enrollment goals at this time as there are no other programs in the Commonwealth to use as a benchmark. Clemson has roughly 2,000 students in its bridge program, Hemphill said.
Clemson has nearly double the total enrollment Radford does — 24,000 to approximately 12,000, respectively.
The Clemson bridge number gives Hemphill reason to believe it will work at Radford, he said.
“If we have 25 students a year, that would be a great success,” he said.
The bridge program is part of an ongoing growing partnership between RU and NRCC. Hemphill said the first phase was guaranteeing all credit from NRCC transfer to RU, as students transferring from community colleges to four-year schools tend lose 13 credits on average.
Additionally, NRCC has an office on its campus where students can regularly meet with advisers from Radford.
Hemphill is confident this program is just the latest in a lasting partnership.
“I’m sure we’ll do something after this,” he said.