Get a Taste of College: Pre-College Programs
HOW YOU SPEND YOUR SUMMER says a lot about you. For high school students who choose to participate in pre-college programs at colleges and universities, bored is definitely not an accurate adjective.
WHY SHOULD I CONSIDER A PRE-COLLEGE PROGRAM?
“With college quickly approaching after senior year, it is critical that [students] best prepare themselves not only for the application process, but also the social and academic components of college life,” says Latoria Spencer, marketing specialist for the summer school and pre-college programs at Emory College of Arts and Sciences (GA). “While attending a pre-college program shows academic commitment and foreshadows a student’s ability to succeed in a college environment, it also demonstrates interest in the school they attend.”
Of course, you don’t necessarily need to choose a program held at one of your potential colleges. The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC), for example, holds programs at a wide variety of colleges and universities.
“Pre-college programs … can help students gain focus through in-depth explorations of a career or academic area,” says David Lowitz, director of operations for the NSLC’s Chicago programs. “This helps students in determining what majors/schools they are interested in and teaching them how to find jobs/internships during college. [It] also provides students with an opportunity to live away from home, meet and interact with peers from across the U.S. and become comfortable with college-level coursework. This helps students enter college with less stress.”
WHAT KINDS OF PROGRAMS EXIST?
Programs vary greatly, from one-day workshops to six-week, for-credit programs that let you truly immerse yourself in college life.
Formats range from hands-on, experiential activities like cooking, medicine and art to lecture-style classroom formats or a combination of both. For example, a forensic science program could have you learning fingerprint and DNA analysis while working with a team to solve a challenging murder case. A business course could show you how to develop your own product and present it to a panel of experts. A theater program might have you doing script analysis and improv one minute and character development the next.
With so many different topics and formats, you’re bound to find something that interests you.
HOW DO I KNOW WHICH SUMMER PROGRAM IS RIGHT FOR ME?
“Students should make sure that the program offers courses that interest them and extracurricular activities that will keep them engaged,” says Spencer. “In addition to rigorous academics, students should make sure that the program offers other opportunities to explore the surrounding area and engage with the community.”
Lowitz suggests that you first determine what you want to get out of the experience, and then choose a program tailored to that goal. Once you do that, “Review sample schedules from the past programs and speak with alumni who have attended the program,” suggests Lowitz. “Look for a schedule that shows all the days of the program, not just one or two sample days, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.”
So what will your summer say about you? If you attend a pre-college program, we’re guessing fun and prepared!