News Release

Summer Academy Helps High School Graduates Transition to College

June 30, 2015

Summer Academy
Evangelina Santos and Emily Esparza listen to a speaker at Summer Academy graduation recently.

Vickie Rodriguez didn’t plan to attend college after graduating high school.

But after spending a few weeks at Dalton State’s Summer Academy, she has changed her mind.

“I didn’t know what I would do,” Rodriguez said. “But I didn’t want to come to college. After spending time here learning about college life and seeing what it takes to be a successful student, I realize it’s not as hard as I thought it was going to be.”

Even if students had already decided they would enter college, Summer Academy can help make the transition from high school to college easier, said program director, Fernando Garcia. The program is open to any high school graduate, not just those enrolling in Dalton State.

“We want to help motivate these students to choose college,” Garcia said. “We want to help prepare them for college so they will be more successful students.”

Summer Academy
Pictured are graduates of this year’s Summer Academy program at Dalton State. Front row from left are, Nikki Phillips, Urooj Sheikh, and Itzel Moreno-Aguilar. Back row from left are Vicki Rodriguez, Ivan Marinez, Andrea Garcia, Emily Esparza, Evangelina Santos, and Daniel Diaz.

The academy helps students bring up test scores, refreshes them on math and English fundamentals, and teaches them about applying to college and financial aid.

Refreshing her math skills is exactly what Evangelina Santos, who graduated high school in 2008, needed before enrolling at Dalton State.

“This is really helping me,” Santos said. “I want to do something else with my life. I have experience, but I need the education to back me up. I work as a janitorial supervisor, but without an education that’s all I’ll ever be.”

The Compass test is a requirement for admission at Dalton State. Students entering Summer Academy take the test before and after the program, and their test scores are compared. In 2014, test scores rose 54 percent. Students also take surveys before and after the program about their perceptions of college.

“I didn’t realize there were so many resources that could help me while applying and after becoming a student,” said Emily Esparza, who aspires to work with children in some capacity. “Being here has really opened my eyes about what college is all about and about what I’m capable of. Summer Academy is helping me make a slow transition to college. I feel more prepared to come here.”

Summer Academy is one of three programs at Dalton State geared toward helping high school students and graduates choose college and ease into it. Others include Summer Bridge and Next Steps.

“Since Dalton State serves as a point of access to higher education in the community, it is important for us to offer programs such the Summer Academy, Summer Bridge, and Next Steps,” said Dr. Jodi Johnson, vice president for enrollment and student services. “These programs provide early intervention and academic support to increase both the aggregate number of students attending college and individual students’ chances of success in college.”

Those wanting more information about Dalton State’s Summer Academy transition program for high school graduates can contact Garcia at

Dalton State, 650 College Drive, Dalton, GA 30720
706.272.4436 • 1.800.829.4436 •