First-time Bakersfield College students are getting a head start on meeting their fellow classmates and becoming acquainted with campus.

BC’s Summer Bridge Program started a few years ago and now serves 1,200 incoming freshmen. Their mission is to ease the transition from high school.

“It’s like growing up. The struggle is just to balance it well,” said new student Ahlani Perez.

Students are often recruited to the program or recommended from high schools.

“When they leave, they know not only faculty and staff, but they know people in their similar career pathways, so friendships last when they go through Bridge,” said Dr. Kimberly Bligh, the program director.

During the day, they meet professors, then advisors to sort out financial aid and lay out an academic plan.

“About 80 percent of our students come in socio-economically disadvantaged,” Bligh said. “Most of them are first-generation college students so they don’t have that background of the college culture. what we want to do is give them that jump start to understand what college is about so they can take that home.”

The day is also packed with activities, including networking lessons, games, and discussions about challenges they may face.

“What we do is we take that timid person and we blossom them in just nine hours. We get them out and going and talking,” Bligh said.

Another perk with the Bridge Program? All the students receive half a credit before classes even begin.

BC will also be holding a Family Bridge open house on August 14 from 5 to 8 p.m.