Bridge Week is expanding to include all freshmen


Bridge Week, the weeklong freshman program that takes place before the fall semester, is expanding to include all incoming freshmen. According to Heather Bowman, director of first-year programs, Bridge Week was designed to help students get comfortable on campus and build a connection with IUPUI before their first week of college starts. Just last year, Bridge Week only included 1,100 incoming freshmen.

“We’re really trying to build in some additional social opportunities this year,” Bowman said. “So hopefully it will be a fun mix of academics and acclimation to campus and social opportunities.” 

Along with the increase in the student capacity of Bridge Week, new programs are being implemented as well. One of these new experiences is called Connections, which is meant to help students learn about all the programs available to them at IUPUI.

Bridge students dance together at the closing ceremony.

“Students will have a chance to explore different organizations and resources on campus that they are personally interested in,” Bowman said. “We are hoping that helps to personalize the experience for everybody and make it a little more meaningful to everyone who participates.”

Although Bridge Week is a great way for students to socially adjust to life as college students, it also helps educate and familiarize students with college life academically, impacting student success in and out of the classroom.

We know that Bridge gives them tools to succeed that they may not have otherwise, and we’re excited to extend those tools to all students. We want all students to have the very best possible start and to be as well-equipped and as successful as they can in college.

Heather Bowman

According to Bowman, Bridge Week students tend to be more successful academically and have higher GPAs than non-Bridge students.

Bowman emphasized the loyalty and dedication many Bridge Week instructors have shown. One of these instructors is Rachel Swinford, a faculty member of the Department of Kinesiology.

After teaching a first-year kinesiology course in 2008, Swinford shared that she found a love for working with first-year students. Since then, she has participated in Bridge as an instructor in 2015, 2019, and 2021. She expressed why she believes that Bridge Week is essential for first-year students.

“I think Bridge Week is important because I think a lot of times freshmen can be nervous or maybe intimidated to come to college. So, I think it’s a great experience to not only learn about the campus, but I really think that belonging is seeing that you’re now part of this larger community, within your small class but also with everyone in Bridge.”

Three Bridge students sit together on a grassy field
Bridge students celebrate at the closing ceremony
A student dances, celebrating at the closing bridge ceremony

Bridge students celebrate at the closing ceremony.

Bowman expressed that the primary goal of the Bridge Week expansion is to promote equity for all first-year students and place all students on an even playing field as they begin their college journey. In order to achieve this, Bowman explained that Bridge Week needs to expand the number of faculty and staff members involved as well.

“If faculty and staff work with a program or a resource or an office that is student-facing, I would encourage them to reach out to me to see how we might be able to give them some time and space during Bridge Week to showcase what they offer to students.”

If you have any questions about Bridge Week or becoming an instructor, please reach out to the Bridge Week team at

For more information, contact the Division of Undergraduate Education Office of Communications at