Sample College Life with a Pre-College Program
If someone asked you what you did during summer break, would you be proud of how you spent your time?
For high school students who participate in pre-college programs, the answer would almost always be a resounding, “Yes.”
That’s because attending a pre-college program is not only a fun and insightful slice of college life, but also a reflection of your commitment to your education, which will come in handy when you start applying to schools.
Why Consider a Pre-college Program?
“A pre-college program can provide students with the opportunity to live and learn on a college campus,” says David Lowitz, director of operations of the National Student Leadership Conference Chicago Programs, which features 19 programs across a variety of disciplines and careers. “This is [also] a great way to experience living away from home [and meet] new people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.”
Krista Lyons, program director of the Summer Scholars Program at the University of Miami, which offers 14 summer programs, points out that many high school students are unsure about what colleges to apply to, let alone what major to pursue. “Choosing a pre-college program allows students to explore possible majors, colleges and career opportunities in an environment where they can earn college credit,” she says.
At Emory University’s (GA) pre-college program, students gain insight into the admission and application process to highly selective schools, choosing a major, crafting an admission essay, meeting faculty expectations and more. “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 might consider applying to in the future,” says Mollie Korski, senior associate director of Emory Summer School and Pre-College Programs, which lets students choose from two- and three-week noncredit courses and six-week credit courses in a wide spectrum of topics.
Choosing a Program
Lyons says there are many factors that will help students determine which program is right for them, including the subjects offered, whether a program offers college credit, program length, institution size, location, residential and commuter offerings, staff engagement, and after-class and weekend activities. “[Our programs provide] students with a college-level academic experience and the opportunity to earn six college credits in three weeks,” she explains.
Lowitz recommends choosing a program based on what kind of experience you want. “For example, our programs focus on experiential learning, hands-on simulations and interactions with professionals in a career field,” he says. “This is a different experience than a program that is centered more on taking college classes where the student will be in lectures all day.”
When researching programs, Lowitz suggests asking for a sample schedule to get a better understanding of daily activities, talking to alumni of the program, and viewing videos or photo streams on the program’s website or Facebook page.
Korski points out that, in addition to rigorous academics, students should make sure the program offers opportunities to explore the surrounding area and engage with the community. But most importantly,“Make sure the program matches with [your] personal goals and objectives,” Korski says.“The program should help [you] grow as a student, gain a greater sense of independence and prepare you for what is ahead on the college-bound journey.”