New program ‘bridges’ gap between 2-year, 4-year schools

LSU at Eunice Bengals looking to become Ragin’ Cajuns after attaining their associate degrees will have a much easier transition now.

Starting this fall, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette is extending its Ragin’ Cajun Bridge Program to LSU-Eunice.

The program will aid LSU-Eunice students in the transition from the two-year college to UL-Lafayette’s four-year programs by giving them special access to some of the amenities at the Lafayette campus while they’re still attending classes at the Eunice campus.

An important part of the bridge program, UL-Lafayette Vice President for Enrollment Management DeWayne Bowie said, is it can remedy a lot of transition issues transfer students often face on their first day at a much larger school.

“It’s a wonderful program,” he said. “It helps them familiarize themselves with the campus so when they do officially transfer, it’s easier for them to find their classes and focus on academic success.”

Students participating in the bridge program attended a special orientation earlier this summer where they received a UL-Lafayette ID card.

Once classes start at UL-Lafayette, the card will give the LSU-Eunice students access to many UL-Lafayette amenities, including Bourgeois Hall recreational facilities, the student Aquatic Center and Edith Garland Dupré Library. Participating students also are eligible to live in university residence halls and attend home Ragin’ Cajun sporting events.

While students familiarize themselves with the UL-Lafayette campus, the students will still be finishing up their studies at LSU-Eunice.

“We’re able to provide these students with a sound foundation,” said Renee Robichaux, vice chancellor for academic affairs at LSU-Eunice. “If their dream is to be a Ragin’ Cajun but they can’t start there yet, we can provide that sound foundation with a solid education. We can be their gateway in.”

Because the program is so new, it’s hard to gauge the interest of LSU-Eunice students. But Robichaux said with the rate at which LSU-Eunice students transfer to UL-Lafayette after earning their associate degrees, a program to ease that transition should catch traction soon.

“We got this off the ground rather late in the recruiting process this year,” Robichaux said. “We’ve had some interest, but I anticipate by next fall this is going to be very successful. The word just has to get out.”

The bridge program to UL-Lafayette isn’t LSU-Eunice’s first post-graduate transitional program. The school boasts bridge programs with schools around the state, including LSU at Alexandria and McNeese State University.

South Louisiana Community College was the first school to partner with UL-Lafayette in building a bridge program.

“SLCC and UL-Lafayette collaborate on many levels,” said Christine Payton, SLCC public relations director. “This program is just another collaboration between the two.”

The partnership began about a year ago, with its first bridge students starting at UL-Lafayette this fall.

“This program helps students transition into college,” Payton said.

To participate in the bridge program, students must be enrolled at LSU-Eunice for three consecutive semesters and earn at least a 2.25 grade-point average. They must have 24 college credits, including college algebra and freshman English.

In addition to their home school’s tuition and fees, bridge students will pay UL-Lafayette $90 in the spring and fall and $70 in the summer to participate.