Bridge Year Program


Promise-eligible, first-generation students who would like to attend Western Michigan University are welcome to apply to our new Bridge Year Program. Our program offers you the opportunity to start your college career (or restart it) in a small community of your peers and members of the community where you will engage in ideas, acquire skills and knowledge, and receive strong support throughout your first year.

The advantage of our Bridge Year Program is that you can begin your college experience by focusing on the academic demands of the college without additional pressures of being a full-time student on campus. We believe that the best introduction to college is created when passionate teachers meet with a small number of students to collectively work through a rich and challenging curriculum. Our relational approach and emphasis on conversation creates a supportive environment for all our students (no matter what their skills may be) in which to gain confidence in themselves, take intellectual risks, explore issues in depth, develop new academic skills and habits of mind, and ask for help when needed. Students who are ready are encouraged to enroll full-time in the spring semester.

Another advantage of our program is the inter-generational class makeup. Students in our program will benefit from our strong sense of community; student strengths and life experiences will be acknowledged by their instructors, peer group of first-generation college students, and other community participants. Our community of learners encourages each student to become responsible for their own learning while also learning from the experience of others.


To participate in our program you must be:

  • Kalamazoo-Promise eligible.
  • Accepted into Western Michigan University.
    • If you have not yet been accepted, we can help you with your application.
  • The first person in your immediate family who has completed a college degree.
    • Exceptions can be made in some cases.


Material support

The program recognizes that even with the generous support of the Kalamazoo Promise, attending college is a financial burden to many students. Our bridge students will receive free tuition, books, snacks, and bus tokens, in addition to other benefits provided to WMU students, such as access to the library, fitness center, computer lab, and students events. Students with small children can also apply for daycare assistance. With the Kalamazoo Promise Business Collaboration, we also offer students entry level work opportunities in local businesses.

Sense of belonging and social support

The program is built on the premise that students learn best when they develop strong relationships with their peers, instructors, and peer mentors. We strive to create an environment where bridge students support each other emotionally and academically. Our instructors and mentors are dedicated to creating meaningful relationships and promoting student success. With small class sizes, bridge students are respected as individuals and encouraged to grow. Our students will enter college with a strong sense of belonging and the confidence to succeed.

Strong academic skills and engaging curriculum

Our small class sizes and passionate, friendly instructors provide a rigorous but also accessible and supportive environment in which to explore relevant topics and develop strong academic skills. Each of our classes have two instructors (usually a professor and the program manager) with access to community and college mentors. Our teaching is relational and discussion-based, so students will be encouraged to actively contribute to class learning. Students will leave our program with stronger reading, writing, and public speaking skills. They will also have instructors and mentor support throughout their time at WMU.


Our program will provide you with a small and supportive community of peers, mentors and instructors. In addition to various cultural activities and one-on-one peer mentor support, your first year will include the following events and courses:

Fall semester

Students will attend three courses with the same group of Bridge students. The third course will include non-Bridge students as well.

  • Orientation: In addition to the normal orientation activities, students will attend our Bridge orientation, where you will get to know each other better and learn more about the activities, coursework, and instructor/mentor support we provide.
  • ES 2800–Human Flourishing and the Pursuit of Happiness taught by Dr. Dini Metro-Roland, T/TR 2:00 to 3:15 p.m.
  • ENG 1050–Thought and Writing, T/TR 10 to 11:40 a.m.

Spring semester

Students who are ready will be encourage to attend full-time in the spring. In addition to non-Bridge courses, all students will attend one general education course with their group and other WMU students.

  • AAAS 2000–Introduction to African American and African Studies or another WES course that addresses cultures in the United States.
  • End-of-Year Celebration: This is your time to celebrate your first year's accomplishments and honor other members of Humanities for Everybody.


Interested in our program?

If you are interested in participating in our Bridge Year Program, see H4E Contact Form.