A new program that helps historically underrepresented students transition to college has launched at Longwood and is already finding success.
BOND – Beginning Our New Direction – is a four-day program for new Longwood students from traditionally and historically underrepresented and underserved communities. The four days lead naturally into New Lancer Days, the college transition program that all new Longwood students participate in before classes start. BOND organizers worked with a cohort of 30 students in this pilot year and plan to expand the program next year and beyond.
“We put together the program as a pre-New Lancer Days experience because we’ve heard from several students over the last few years about struggles they had transitioning to college,” said Jonathan Page, assistant dean of multicultural affairs and Title VI coordinator at Longwood. “We wanted to really ease that transition for students from historically underrepresented communities and, in particular, BIPOC communities. We’re working to help them build connections, build a community and have an understanding of what resources they have at their disposal.”
We’re working to help [students] build connections, build a community and have an understanding of what resources they have at their disposal.Jonathan Page, assistant dean of multicultural affairs and Title VI coordinator at Longwood
The program started with a day of community building and an introduction to key buildings and landmarks on campus with activities like a scavenger hunt, where groups were asked to navigate their way across campus.
In subsequent days, they were introduced to faculty and staff from across campus who are there to support students both academically and personally. Students in the BOND program met with student success and writing center staff, and representatives from information technology services, Title IX, accessibility, campus recreation, campus engagement and others.
They ended the program by setting goals and mapping their success in college with faculty and staff members from across the university. Each busy day ended with some well-earned social time where students got to know each other over a movie or a late-night meal.
“A lot of time the initial freshman programming at universities is like drinking from a firehose,” said Page. “There’s a lot of information headed students’ way all at once. Spreading this program out over four days allowed them to not only process the practical information they’ll need to navigate university life, but also to begin making friends and having some shared experiences so they go into New Lancer Days with a sense of community already.”
One of the most powerful experiences was a “real talk” session where BOND organizers left the room and freshman students got a chance to speak candidly with current Longwood students who are members of multicultural organizations about their experiences as minorities on campus.
“The response was incredible,” said Page. “The connections that were forged that night are very powerful.”