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APSU hosts first African American Academic Academy this week

Following last weeks successful ASTAR Program, designed to introduce African American high school students to the college experience, this week Austin Peay is hosting its first annual African American Academic Academy.

Nicknamed A2, the African American Academic Academy is a special program that enables traditional, first-time African American students who have been admitted to APSU to participate in an early orientation.
Following last week's successful ASTAR Program, designed to introduce African American high school students to the college experience, this week Austin Peay is hosting its first annual African American Academic Academy.

Nicknamed “A2,” the African American Academic Academy is a special program that enables traditional, first-time African American students who have been admitted to APSU to participate in an early orientation.

The brainchild of Dr. Jennifer Meningall, APSU vice president for student affairs, A2 is a “bridge” program to help participants make an easier transition from high school to college.

Twenty-two new APSU freshmen are participating this week in what Meningall terms a “pilot program” that is just part of a more comprehensive, four-year plan to increase recruitment and retention of African American students from their first year through graduation.

Virtually all data points to a strong correlation between retention and acclimationhow quickly a student feels comfortable within the campus environment.

Although this year's participants are on campus for a week of intense study and advisement, Meningall said plans call for expanding the program to a full month next summer.

“This program is a jump-start for these students," Meningall said. “Before they arrive for classes in August, they will have become acquainted with the campus and the resources available to themand they will make friends this week whom they'll know when they return. The staff already is noticing a significant bonding among the group.”

According to Meningall, during the African American Academic Academy, APSU faculty and staff are talking with participants about what they need to do to succeed as an APSU student.

“We are impressing on them the importance of time management, we are telling them not to ‘dig themselves into a hole' academically, that's hard, if not impossible, to climb out. We're talking about taking tests, managing stress and getting involved in worthwhile campus activities.

“Academic and social integration is critical to the success of African American college students,” Meningall said. “Research suggests African American students are more likely to become academically and socially isolated on a predominantly white campus than are Caucasian or Asian students.”

To help resolve this problem, A2 is focusing on four key efforts:
This year's participants are taking an intensive course to strengthen their writing skills. Next summer, participants will take two courses to strengthen both their writing and mathematical skills. According to Meningall, taking such developmental courses prior to their first semester at APSU should help participants refresh their knowledge in two critical areas and, thus, begin the fall semester with improved self-confidence in their ability to succeed.

As part of the pilot program, all participants will receive academic advisement from a single staff member. Designated advisers are Dr. Houston Davis, assistant vice president for academic affairs; Dr. Diane Berty, dean of student development; Sheila McCoy, registrar; Scott McDonald, director of admissions; and Darolyn Porter, retention specialist.

Additionally, A2 participants will receive yearlong support and mentoring from a select group of African American peers, as part of the SHOES (Students Helping Others Evolve Successfully) Program. Meningall points out the SHOES program is open to any eligible freshman.

For more information about APSU's African American Academic Academy, telephone 6642.