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Edge-Block-fall-2023 The College Edge program with students working in robotics.

A new Beacon College program aims to give incoming students an edge as they transition to life as a Blazer.

College Edge is a roughly two-week program meant for incoming students to get accustomed to the speed and expectations that come with being enrolled at Beacon.

After a pilot program this summer, in which the school chose 20 students for a test run, College Edge will launch formally in 2024, with as many as 75 students expected in its first year.

The school launched the program to specifically target seniors and other incoming students because the profile of those who enroll at Beacon has shifted recently.

“We have seen a much bigger uptick in nontraditional students, so these incoming students could be adult learners,” said Brody Glidden, director of summer programming on Beacon College. “There is a general lack of programming for adult learning.”

The restructuring of transition programs creates a softer landing for students and families who want to know more about the college.

As they get closer to attending, more poignant and important questions start to form, Glidden said.

The program is a spin-off, essentially, of the school’s existing Summer for Success program, which traditionally has focused on high school sophomores, juniors and seniors considering the school.

“We wanted to provide a more independent and college-like experience,” said Glidden. “Summer for Success is an introduction to concepts. College Edge is going through the actual, physical movements and rotations toward what college is actually like.”

The Summer for Success program will continue to help high school students understand the programming. However, it will only include sophomores and juniors in high school. The programming shift will increase the number of overall students the school can help during its summer programming.

Not every student who runs through College Edge will necessarily end up at Beacon. During the trial run, Glidden said about 75% ended up attending the school. Others, however, experienced the program and discovered unexpected obstacles. Glidden said that often meant difficult conversations with parents that had been excited to have their children attend Beacon College’s high-quality program.

“We have really hard conversations sometimes instead of just powerful affirmations that they can do it,” Glidden said. “It is crucial to be very transparent and vulnerable. Sometimes, parents get caught off guard by the conversation.”

The discussions, while difficult, represent another pillar of Beacon College, which is being sure to provide parents the information they need to determine whether the school is right for them.

“We try to explain that this is the first time that students are independent, in their own environment, without family oversight,” he said. “Students react very differently to that when they are in their own environment. A lot of times in these programs, there are going to be a lot more factors than students can anticipate.”

Glidden said Beacon College’s role as a center that specializes in educating those with learning differences only amplifies the need for programs like College Edge and those honest interactions.

“An adjustment to a new environment is always difficult,” he said. “There will always be issues. Now throw in a learning difference and that’s a whole different ballgame. Whether it’s ADHD, dyslexia, autism or others, now you are tag teaming them and throwing two things at them.”

The inaugural College Edge program will last from June 22 to July 2, 2024. Applications are now being accepted.

“We didn’t just throw a ball out there and hope someone hit it,” he said. “We knew the population was there and that the need was there.”