WEST LAFAYETTE — More than 1,000 new Boilermakers will launch their collegiate careers next week, looking to make the next giant leap in their lives.

The students are participating in Purdue’s Summer Start and Early Start programs, which allow students to arrive early, take summer classes for credit and become adjusted to life on campus.

The programs have both in-person and online components.

This group of students will be the first to take in-person classes since March when the COVID-19 pandemic shifted classes online.

“We are excited to welcome this group of students to campus,” said Jay Akridge, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs and diversity. “The students who are participating in these programs want to get started on their Purdue education and get acclimated to campus life – which has changed greatly since March. These first several weeks will allow them to become familiar with the campus, college coursework, and the many public health measures instituted in the Protect Purdue Plan, with the focus on setting them up for success at Purdue.”

Summer Start is a direct-admit program created in 2015 by Purdue President Mitch Daniels to expand access to a Purdue education, especially among lower-income, first-generation and minority students who fell just short in the admissions process but are considered otherwise qualified to succeed at Purdue. More than 71% of students in the 2020 cohort are from Indiana, and one in five are underrepresented minority students.

“Purdue is a better campus because of the hundreds of Summer Start students enrolled over the years,” said John Gates, vice provost for diversity and inclusion. “This program gives rising Boilermakers an opportunity and a path toward the academic success we know they are capable of.”

Since its inception, Summer Start has given 850 students a chance at a Purdue education they otherwise would have been denied. The first Summer Start students graduated in May, and rising cohorts are on track to do the same at a rate comparable to their peers.

Nearly 9% of the Summer Start students who entered Purdue in 2016 graduated in less than four years.

Purdue student success professionals have designed a variety of programs to support Summer Start students. All must enroll in a first-year learning community that allows the students to live in the same residence hall, take courses together and experience other events and activities designed to promote their academic success.

All Summer Start students are also partnered with a success coach throughout the duration of their time at Purdue.

Purdue’s Summer Start was the recipient of NASPA’s Student Affairs Partnering with Academic Affairs Promising Practices Award. NASPA, Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education is the world’s largest student affairs organization, with more than 15,000 members and 2,100 institutions.

Summer Start students are joined on campus by students enrolled in Early Start, a program designed for students admitted to the fall semester who want to get a jump on their Purdue education. A record 654 participating students will complete up to nine credit hours either online or in person this summer.

Early Start also is helping 25 international students who completed high school in the U.S. remain in the country over the summer as many of them could not get home and return to Purdue due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions.

Additional summer program participants – including Purdue Polytechnic High School students – will come to campus later in July for in-person learning sessions.

“This year has been an exciting year in planning and working with students and their families in getting them to campus,” said John Gipson, director of summer session. “We have received tremendous support in providing materials, resources and information to them during this time. Faculty and staff across campus have moved mountains to prepare for a safe return to campus.”

Summer Start and Early Start organizers have developed numerous webinars to assist students and families in preparing for a redesigned campus experience, and they have sent weekly updates on what to expect. Daniels participated in a virtual University welcome on July 8.

Organizers have worked with the Protect Purdue Health Center and University Residences to develop a safe move-in process that will involve temperature checks, wellness kits and welcome packets. The Protect Purdue Health Center has developed a detailed plan on contact tracing. Faculty and staff saw new layouts to classrooms in Wilmeth Active Learning Center on July 8.

Gipson said there are numerous benefits to participating in summer classes, as well as Summer Start and Early Start, especially as 60% of Purdue students who graduate in four years or fewer complete at least one summer. Students net an average savings of $22,300 by using summer to graduate one semester early and $52,094 when graduating in three years.

“Many students use these programs as opportunities to add a second major or multiple minors without increasing time to graduation, or they can use it to prepare undergraduate research projects or shift the number of classes per semester to focus on difficult courses,” he said.