Jump Start bulletin board filled with photos

Succeed at Penn State Mont Alto in the Jump Start Program

Some first-year students are getting a helping hand with Penn State Mont Alto’s Jump Start Program ― a program designed to retain new students with the help of peer mentors and the assistance of college-level work preparation, involvement in campus activities, and connection to faculty, staff, and other students.

Jump Start is designed to equip first-year students with the skills necessary to achieve college success.

“The exposure to campus resources Jump Start provides helps you have a successful college experience at Mont Alto,” said Samantha Morrison ’17, Jump Start student (2013-14) and peer mentor (2014-15, 2015-16).

Jump Start students are typically first-generation college students who have placed into developmental English and scored 35 percent below the math placement.

Three pillars of the program help students succeed: a virtual summer component, early entrance experience, and academic support.

“With the Jump Start Program’s multi-faceted approach, students will be more persistent and have higher success rates compared to eligible students who are not enrolled in the program,” according to Kendra Wolgast, Penn State Mont Alto Academic Support Center director.

Jump Start students work to improve their math and English skills for six weeks in the summer using on-line modules. In addition, they begin getting to know a peer-mentor through text messaging until they meet face-to-face during a four-day orientation before classes begin in the fall.

The orientation helps Jump Start students become familiar with the campus and learn about academic resources. They also engage in social activities to establish a sense of community among the Jump Start group and connect with others on campus.

“Socially, it gave us a group, so before the other students came onto campus, we already had friends on the campus,” said Emily Strausner, Jump Start student (2015-16) and Peer Mentor (2016-17).

Jump Start students receive continual support and advice from their peer mentor and others within the Jump Start group throughout their first year at Penn State Mont Alto.

“It’s all about the interpersonal connections of friendship and support so that the students don’t feel overwhelmed. We want them to feel comfortable in their environment. We don’t want them to feel left out. That’s the main goal to make them feel welcome and secure in the grand specter of college,” said Ryan Hovis, Jump Start peer mentor (2016-17, 2017-18).

The fall 2017 class of Jump Start students finished their first semester with an average GPA of 3.07. Jump Start students had GPAs that ranged from 2.45 to 3.53 and 80 percent of Jump Start students successfully enrolled in the spring semester, which was significantly higher than eligible students who chose not to participate. 

Penn State Mont Alto’s Jump Start Program gives students with academic challenges a “jump start” in their transition to college.