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SPARK students tour the Galesburg community.

SPARK Bridge Program


Division of Student Development

2 East South Street

Galesburg, IL 61401-4999


Fax: 309-341-7077


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Berries on a campus tree.

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 Summer Bridge Program. After completing the program prior to the start of the regular academic term, participants say that SPARK does exactly what the acronym stands for—Student Preparation and Readiness for Knox—and more.

"As a first generation college student, I was really anxious about figuring it all out and being on my own for the first time. SPARK helped me find my best friends who I still currently live with, and gave me the confidence to succeed."—Lana Blankenship

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

"I love the community and connections that we build during the program. SPARK is one of the most important parts of my time at Knox."—Lizzie Brazelton

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

"Entering into this program, you will gain friendships, obtain tools to become acclimated with college life, and, most importantly, crank those gears in the brain to begin absorbing knowledge. During your time with SPARK, take the time to explore your new home and push your comfort zone meeting new students, professors, and staff from all different parts of the world. We want you to take advantage of everything Knox offers in order to make your college career fulfilling and successful."—Kelly Fang 

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 reading, analysis, and discussion. Students learn how to balance academic and residential life and what collaborative learning is all about.

"Without the program, I do not believe I would have been able to adjust to classes and other parts of life at Knox as easily as I did."—Ashley Pearson

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

"SPARK created such a fluid transition into college life; it helped Knox feel like a home within a week."—Hannah Hamlin

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.

SPARK is for domestic students who are the first in their families to attend college. Qualifying students will find a SPARK application on their Pre-Arrival Tracker. If you feel that you qualify for SPARK but the application isn't on your student portal, contact

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Printed on Monday, November 29, 2021