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Aggie Jumpstart program to give some NMSU freshmen a head start for success

Aggie Jumpstart program to give some NMSU freshmen a head start for success


Students gathered and walking around under various tents
NMSU Students gather on the International Mall for Aggie Welcome and Orientation. (NMSU photo by Darren Phillips)

Millions of freshmen college students across the country are forced to take remedial courses in math, reading and English because they are not considered “college ready.” Multiple studies have shown that these students are less likely to graduate. Perhaps by starting off behind their peers they fear they’ll never catch up.

Leaders at New Mexico State University are confident a new program called Aggie Jumpstart will help change those statistics by inviting 40 specially selected students to prepare for the fall semester through the eight-week summer program. These students will get help not only in polishing their skills in English and mathematics, but also get a head start on college life by living in campus housing, engaging in leadership experiences and team building exercises as well as receiving training in study skills and time management.

NMSU Vice President for Student Success Renay Scott says the idea is to help these students get familiar with the campus and get ahead of their fellow freshmen so they can become leaders.

“The part that really resonates with me because of my community college experience is social mobility. There are so many factors around social mobility,” said Scott, who was most recently the President of Dońa Ana Community College in the NMSU system. “It’s not just giving them skills and education to compete in the business world to get the job that moves them up in salaries. It’s the grit and efficacy and determination that sometimes, when you’re always behind the eight ball that part of you gets beaten down. For those students we admit who might not be quite ready, we want to lift them up and make sure they’re successful.”

Scott started brainstorming with Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Enrico Pontelli when she was still at DACC and has continued the collaboration. Together the Arts and Sciences College, DACC, the advising unit and admission, they came up with the plan for Aggie Jumpstart.

“Aggie Jumpstart can help these students feel like they’re on a level playing field, actually they will be starting off with extra training that can put them ahead of their peers,” Pontelli said. “We want to help them feel empowered.”

The next important step was funding. They worked together to calculate the bottom line costs to ensure the students wouldn’t have to pay for anything. Although they’re still working out the details, Scott says the ballpark is about $20,000 to cover the salaries for teaching, housing and other costs for the summer program for 40 students.

Pontelli is committing the funds from the College of Arts and Sciences annual “A Starry Night” gala on April 5 to support the Aggie Jumpstart program and he plans to go out to the community to urge financial support for the program. “Just $500 could support one student for this summer program. We want to see it succeed this summer and we’d like to expand it next summer.”

Scott says last year there were approximately 200 students who fit the category of college readiness to be selected for the Aggie Jumpstart program. If enough funds can be raised, the goal would be to double the number of students in the program next year.

“We’ve put together a strong partnership,” Scott said. “What I love about it is we’re all seeing the vision for NMSU Leads 2025.We’re all starting to think of more ways to support the students we are so good at serving. We’re taking these challenges on. So anyone who sees these programs and how student centered this campus is thinks there is only one place in the United States to go to college and that’s New Mexico State University.”