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SPARK students tour the Galesburg community.

SPARK Bridge Program


Division of Student Development

2 E. South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999


Fax: 309-341-7077


The Knox Shop
A view of the Gizmo patio from above.

Does it help to come to campus a week early, spend several hours a day working on academics—especially writing and math? Does it help if you can also get to know the campus, the offices, the people of Knox?

Yes, according to students who have taken part in Knox College's SPARK Program. After completing the program prior to the start of the regular academic term, participants say that SPARK does exactly what it says—Student Preparation and Readiness for Knox—and more.

"I was terribly apprehensive about college. As a low-income student with few college prospects, I didn't think I'd be able to cut it as a Knox student. SPARK changed that perspective for me. I went from feeling ill-prepared to (tentatively) ready—and perhaps even excited—for my first week of classes."—Abby Holloway

Students who participate in SPARK are more likely to achieve academic success. Of the students who participated in the program last year, 29% had a GPA of 3.5 or greater, compared to 13% of students who were invited but did not participate in SPARK.

"It helped me to find my way, feel confident in asking questions, and helped me realize that college is not as scary as it seems."—Matrice Young

Students work with faculty on academics, receiving a half-credit course on their transcripts. They take part in workshops with library staff on research skills. They go on field trips to Knox's urban farm and 700-acre biological field station. They fan out across campus to meet Knox faculty and support staff in campus offices. They explore the Galesburg community.

"Through interactive activities, fun outings, engaging classes, and don't forget the awesome mentors, I was able to prepare for my first day of class. Nothing can stop you when you are a SPARK."—Keara Crook

Giving students an in-depth preview of how a liberal arts college "works" is one of the goals of SPARK. Daily classes focus on academic challenges—math, writing, critical read, analysis, and discussion. Students learn how to balance academic and residential life and what collaborative learning is all about.

"For me, the challenging part was also the fun part. There was a lot of work that had to be done at the same time, and you had to figure out how to get it all done on time. The sense of accomplishment that I feel is really great."—Aziza Bentsi-Enchill

Helping the students are several upperclass Knox students, who serve as peer mentors, working with SPARK students on academic and campus activities.

"I got established. I have a lot of upperclass friends now. We'll branch out, and I think we'll still come together. I'll be able to say 'That's my brother, that's my sister, were in SPARK together."—Domanique Rahman

If you join the SPARK program, you'll have support throughout the academic year with ongoing meetings with your SPARK faculty advisor and mentors—ultimately completing a group project with your SPARK peers.

The SPARK Summer Bridge Program, which starts on Saturday, September 7, is for domestic students who are the first in their families to attend college. For those who qualify, the SPARK application is on your personalized student portal. The deadline to fill out the application is July 15.

If you feel that you qualify for SPARK but the application form isn't on your student portal, contact

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Printed on Tuesday, December 10, 2019