As another fall semester opens, there is a new freshman class of over 1,000 students. Among these students are a group of first-year college students who had a unique entry into the collegiate world. Each year, Millersville University partners with high schools across the area to bring the opportunity of college admission to students who may not otherwise get the chance. The program is called the Millersville Scholars Program (MSP).
According to the Millersville University web site, “The Millersville Scholars Program provides a supportive community for students to strengthen the skills needed to excel in college. The program encourages students to question, alter, inspect, and challenge their experiences for the purpose of constructive self-actualization.”
In order to gain access to the MSP, students are required to complete a rigorous summer program called the Pre-Scholars Summer Institute (PSSI). The goal of the summer program is to help students gain a set of values that are consistent with the concepts of scholarship. The program takes place about two-and-a-half weeks before the fall semester starts and is carefully organized with a strict schedule for each day. Students are expected to maintain mature, collegiate behaviors, and any behaviors which do not fit that description are immediately corrected.
The scholarship program is comprised of three critical components: academic, interpersonal, and residential. These three components are represented throughout each activity featured in the program. Students that pass the PSSI program are then admitted into the MSP program throughout their first year of college. Each student is assigned an outreach counselor to meet with on a regular basis.
Outreach counselors exist to provide assistance in academic, social, and personal areas, and continue to monitor the students’ progress in their classes.
The MSP students are also required to attend weekly study sessions and monthly Scholars Meetings. In order to determine admittance into the MSP program, students’ economic and educational statuses are taken into account. Often times, school counselors are the ones to recommend students into the program.
Values such as resilience, long-term goal making, leadership, service to the community, and positive self-concept are consistently taught to the students throughout both the PSSI and MSP programs. Students in the MSP program are continually taught to value their intelligence and their education. For many students, this is a life-changing program.
First-year student Alexa Cain was a part of the PSSI program this year. When asked what the most difficult part of transitioning out of the program and into everyday student life was, she responded that it was “…being away from the ones who helped me get through this very demanding program.” Cain said that the students most likely to benefit from the program are those who “have the qualities to be the successful leaders they were destined to be, but are just in need of an extra push.” Cain has nothing negative to say about the program, describing it as an experience that pushed her out of her comfort zone in the best possible way.
Brittany Jones, also a first-year student at Millersville, was given the opportunity to participate in the PSSI program. For Jones, the most difficult transition was having to learn to create her own daily schedule, after being in a rigorously scheduled program. Jones stated that she did not enjoy the program at first, but her attitude changed as the days went on. She said, “Towards the end of the program, you come to the realization that a challenge is what you need to help you, and to make sure your school year is not simple, but easier for you in general.”
Those interested in referrals for the PSSI or MSP program can find more information on the Millersville University website.