October 10, 2019

Diving In

Rina Yamamoto found the support she needed to succeed at UWS — no stepping stone needed.

Rina Yamamoto outside the Student Support Service Department

The transition from high school to college can be a challenge, and for those who faced adversity in high school either with grades or personal situations, it can be daunting. That was the case for Rina Yamamoto, an Elementary Education major who started her studies at UW-Superior this fall.

“I wasn’t a great student in high school, especially my freshman and sophomore years,” she said. “I struggled with developing good study habits and fell behind in some of my classes. That made me question if I could succeed at a four-year college.”

Rina’s mother, who is a high school guidance counselor, and her father, helped weigh the options. One path she considered was going to a two-year community college and then transferring to a four-year school. “I thought it would be a stepping stone and might make the transition easier,” she said.

Close enough, yet far enough away

Rina knew she wanted to get far enough from her home in White Bear Lake, Minn., to experience something new and establish independence, but also wanted to be close enough to drive home occasionally. Since her grandmother lives in Little Marais, Minn., she was familiar with the Twin Ports area and loved the natural beauty and mid-sized cities. So, she and her family decided to check out the college options in Duluth and Superior.

“I actually came up mainly to tour a two-year school,” Rina said. “I was pretty convinced it was going to be the best choice for me. But, we thought as long as we were here, we should check out UWS, too. When I learned about all the programs it had to help me succeed, I knew it was the right place for me.”

Providing a Bridge

While touring UWS, Rina and her family learned about the Bridge Program and how it provides support and resources to help students succeed. These include Superior Jumpstart, which allows students to move in early and participate in planned activities to acclimate to campus, the various resources available, and meet instructors and fellow students. Students in the program take a required Study Skills course and go to the tutoring center for homework assistance at least one hour per week.

“I was amazed at how everyone at UWS genuinely cares about my success,” said Rina. “The Bridge Program provides a safety net for students like me who struggled in high school, but really want to succeed in college. Once I learned about all the resources available here, I realized there was no need to go to a two-year school first and then transfer. All the advantages I thought I’d have at a two-year were actually here, and many more that I wouldn’t have found at a two-year.”

Now in her second month at UWS, Rina says she has found a supportive community that is invested in her success.

“My professors know me and I feel at home here,” she said. “I would definitely tell people to check out UWS. I think they’ll find that this is a place they can succeed, with how affordable it is and the support they have in place. There’s really no reason for a ‘stepping stone’ with UWS. Everything you need is right here.”

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The Bridge Program at UW-Superior is offered each semester, with a primary focus on the fall semester. Participating students, as determined by the Admissions Department, enroll in a full-time load (12-15 credits) with relevant courses that meet university requirements, but with additional resources to support their academic success. In this program, students have the advantage of a supportive learning community that includes structured academic support services. All Bridge students are required to enroll in IDS 095: Collegiate Study Skills and to attend study sessions that support their coursework.

As an integral part of the Bridge program, students starting in the fall attend Superior Jumpstart, a free, multi-day program that lets students move in early, explore the campus, and meet other students in a smaller environment.

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