Pre-College Summer

UConn Pre-College Summer: We Had the Experience of a Lifetime!

 

By Erin Donohue and Nicole Hyman (Pre-College Summer Graduate Assistants) 

The Summer of 2019 marked another successful year that was also full of changes for UConn’s Pre-College Summer (PCS) program. An all-time high 396 registrations spanning across 4 weeks was certainly influenced by the addition of four new courses, including Data Science, Food Science and Technology, Digital Animation and Motion Graphics, and Digital Media: Introduction to Programming. In student feedback regarding these courses, they noted that they provided, “wonderful”, “fun,” and “hands-on” experiences, while instructors were described as “supportive”, “friendly,” and “knowledgeable” in their respective fields. This past summer, the PCS program also hosted more students from around the globe, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Brazil, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, more students stayed for multiple weeks than in previous summers, with a total of 42 students attending the program for either two, three, or four weeks depending on the number of courses in which they chose to enroll. Aside from the new courses added this past summer and our outreach expanding to new regions of the world, perhaps the most important change for the PCS program was the forging of a new partnership with Noble Network’s Summer of a Lifetime (SOAL).

The mission of the SOAL program is to bring diverse, high-achieving high school students to college campuses to explore subject areas in which they are passionate. SOAL’s partnership with UConn’s PCS program during the summer of 2019 emerged in part because this past summer was the first in which Pre-College Summer was unable to work with an organization called Wishbone, a nonprofit that supports low-income high schoolers from New York City and Connecticut to attend summer programs. As Wishbone was not accepting new student applications this past summer, the professional staff at PCS actively sought to establish a new relationship with a similar program. PCS staff wanted to ensure that hardworking high school students who otherwise may not have been able to afford to join us for the summer have the opportunity to attend PCS. Through the SOAL program, low-income, minority scholars are given funding and support, assisting them in participating in life-changing summer academic enrichment programs on college campuses across the nation. In addition, SOAL students are provided with sufficient resources to support their expenses while attending a summer program, including covering costs such as program room, board, and transportation, as well as administrative and emotional support as they transition through the summer program.

This summer, PCS hosted 18 SOAL students all hailing from Chicago, Illinois. For many of these students, attending PCS was their first time away from home or travelling on an airplane. One of our SOAL students, who completed our Game Design course, stated, “I’ve never been outside of Illinois, nor have I visited a college outside of Illinois, so this experience could broaden my collegiate perspective and show me that I might really like colleges outside of Illinois.” In addition, another SOAL student who enrolled in our Pre-Law course was very candid about her feelings toward attending the PCS program, saying, “UConn will allow me to experience being independent and away from home for the first time, something that I am excited and nervous about. I want to take on the risk of being away from my mother, being in a new state, and starting a new chapter in my life as a young adult.” While this was a new experience for many of our SOAL students, all students who attended our PCS program took the opportunity very seriously and recognized the impact that the program would have on their academic and overall goals if they worked hard and utilized it as a jumpstart toward their future aspirations while still in high school. Attending [Pre-College Summer] will allow me a fresh start and the opportunity to get a better outcome in life,” said a SOAL student who ompleted our Pre-Law course. Another SOAL student who attended our Sports Medicine course stated, “Being on the campus will test my maturity and show me how hard I have to work to get to my next destination,” while in a similar vein a SOAL student who pursued our Creative Writing course stated, “I  know college is way harder than high school and grammar school, which I am prepared for. It scares me to go to college because I’m not sure if I’m ready. I want to be successful so that when I graduate I can be on my own. This program will allow me to see if I’m ready to go to college and give it my all.”

 

It is without a doubt that UConn’s Pre-College Summer program had a positive impact not only on SOAL students’ experience in higher education this summer, including their personal, socioemotional, and academic growth, but on their overall goals for attending college in the future. These students came into the program with the understanding that the opportunity to attend a pre-college summer program would allow them to grow as a student as an individual, and they were determined to utilize the experience to the fullest. Seeing the direct impact that PCS is able to make on diverse populations of students has inspired us to actively seek out additional programs and organizations with which we could partner with for the summers to come. At Pre-College Summer we hope to continue to provide students from all backgrounds the chance to be a part of our program so that they may acclimate to college life before actually attending college and solidify that college is an attainable goal to strive towards. If you are aware of any organizations or programs that support student learning in summer programs, please reach out to our office, as we would love to continue to expand our reach and provide more students the with the opportunity to learn and grow through a summer at Storrs.

We have a Summer in Storrs for You

 

A Premier Summer Program for High School Students

 

by Melanie Banks & Nella Quasnitschka

 

UConn Pre-College Summer provides high school students the opportunity to live and learn at a nationally ranked public university campus through four challenging and intensive one-week sessions. At Pre-College Summer, part of our mission is to provide an exploratory experience in which students gain an understanding of the college classroom. Students work with and learn from University faculty while exploring the nuances of college life. Interacting with peers in the residence halls and faculty in the classroom provide students the opportunity to create individual successes. We consider a student successful in Pre-College Summer if they use the opportunity to learn more about their future aspirations, find that the course they enrolled in is a good (or bad) fit to pursue as a potential college major, or feel better prepared for learning and growing in a college or university setting.

 

Through supportive and caring faculty members, our students are able to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment while attending Pre-College Summer. This relates to students' readiness to learn in a college setting and the ability to see how their passions may transform into a college major. Dr. Kimberly Bergendahl, Assistant Professor in Residence from the Political Science Department and Pre-College Summer faculty of the Pre-Law course, has had wonderful experiences with Pre-College Summer students, both during and after their time at UConn Pre-College Summer. Dr. Bergendahl has connected with students during their time in the program and is currently working with a former PCS student, now a UConn honors student, studying political science and conducting undergraduate research. This continued collaboration is an example of how our faculty members can foster incredibly transformative learning experiences through the Pre-College Summer Program that help students build connections and guide them toward a path to success.

 

Interested in joining us? Join our mailing list at pcs.uconn.edu to learn more. Summer 2020 applications will open in December, 2019.

 

Student Feedback

 

by Katiya P., PSC student, Doral, Florida

 

It was an easy decision for me and my family. After reviewing the curriculum for the Pre-Vet program, the campus environment and the access to Avery Point for the lab and dissection, we were convinced we were making the right choice. UConn promised a hands on experience and they delivered. There were hands on experiences at the Avery Campus almost every day.

 

The well-structured schedule worked will for me! It started with a healthy breakfast with other students from around the country. Each day I attended lectures on medical and animal topics. On select days, a comfy bus took us to Avery Point where we would discuss topics, perform labs. Perform dissections and interact with marine animals in their environment all while enjoying each other and the experience. At the end of the day we enjoyed a variety of dinner choices and an array of activities to suit everyone’s social needs. I loved the choice of activities and the game room!

 

My advice is what I told myself before I left the program. Don’t be afraid to try new things, to lead a discussion, or to attend a program far from home. By pushing my boundaries and comfort zone in the subject I love, I was able to participate in a program that was rewarding and life changing!

Experience It: A Summer is Storrs! UConn’s Premiere Pre-College Summer Program

 
By Melanie Ochoa
 
The Office of Early College Programs offers several programs which target high school students and help them transition into college. If you are looking for a summer academic program, we have summer in Storrs for you! UConn Pre-College Summer (PCS) offers rising high school juniors and seniors the chance to study and live on a top-ranked public university campus through the choice of one of four challenging and intensive one-week sessions.
 
Through PCS, students have the opportunity to explore their academic interests by choosing one or more of the 30 available courses, interact with engaging professors, build confidence in being a college student, attend workshops that stress personal and academic development, meet new people, and make new friends, all while learning the culture of college, before college.
 
Academic experiences include Creative & Fine Arts courses, Language, Pharmacy, Pre-Med, Social Science, and STEM courses, all taught by a UConn faculty. But, the exploration doesn’t stop there! Students choose from over 20 different workshops they can attend during their stay to further discover their interests. Workshop offerings include: “Composing Winning College Application Essays” by the University Writing Center; “Effective Communication & Team Building” by the UConn Police Department; “Strategies for Deeper Learning” by the UConn Academic Achievement Center; “Photosynthesis and Really Low Temperatures” by the UConn Chemistry Department; “Pharmacy Compounding Practice” by the UConn Pharmacy Department; “How Major is your Major?” by the Academic Center for Exploratory Students; UConn Info Session & Tour by UConn Admissions and the Lodewick Visitors Center; and more.
 
Students looking to join UConn PCS are required to submit an online application. The application will require: student and parent/guardian information, application questions, submission of unofficial transcript reflecting grades and attendance records, and a non-refundable $35 application processing fee.
 

Applications are being reviewed on a rolling basis and will be accepted until one week prior to the start of each session. Visit pcs.uconn.edu for more information or contact the office at 860-486-0149.

 

Pre-College SummerPre-College Summer Group

Change is Good: UConn Pre-College Summer’s Most Successful Summer

 
By Erin Donohue, Pre-College Summer Graduate Assistant
 

In the summer of 2017, UConn’s Pre-College Summer (PCS) program for rising high school juniors and seniors expanded in more ways than just increasing numbers. This past summer, the program has also extended its reach both nationally and globally! Thirty-five percent (35%) of program students out of the 383 total registrations came from states outside of New England, including Puerto Rico. The program also had a total of 8 international students from countries such as Canada, France, Romania, Luxembourg, China, and Taiwan! This is the largest and most diverse group of students that have ever attended Pre-College Summer, which prepares students for college life through a non-credit, academic enrichment environment.

 

One of the main goals of UConn’s Pre-College Summer program is to allow students to “test out” an academic area that they may be interested in pursuing in college before they attend college. This year, to accommodate the growing number of students, PCS ramped up its course selection. This past summer’s course spread included new courses in the Arts with Animation and Photography, as well as a range of Pre-Med courses on topics such as Anatomy and Physiology, Kinesiology, and Human Pathology. These new Pre-Med courses provided the students with an opportunity to aid in the dissection of a human cadaver right on campus! We additionally added a Pre-Law course to the line-up, and as part of the course students were able to visit the UConn School of Law and a local courthouse! The hands-on experiences provided by these courses allowed students to really get a feel for whether this academic focus is something that they would want to further pursue in college, or not. As Sarah from Ohio put it, “UConn has given me an incredible experience that reassured my desire to pursue medicine.” Other students learned based on their class experience during Pre-College Summer that perhaps the subject they chose was not the best fit for them. Ina from Massachusetts who studied Statistics while at Pre-College Summer remarked, “The UConn Pre-College Summer Program was a good experience in that I left the program with many new friends and a glimpse into what college life will be life. The academic course itself, however, was one that I would definitely not repeat.”
 

Another goal of the Pre-College Summer Program is to make sure that students gain the full experience of what college life is like before actually attending college. Students who attend our program live in residence halls on the Storrs campus where they attend interactive classes for 19 hours a week for up to four weeks and participate in engaging afternoon workshops of their choice. New workshops popular with students this past summer included Creating a Vision Board where students were able to highlight their future goals using pictures, participating in a Hands on Drumming circle, and DJ Session 101, an introduction to disc jockeying. While all of this is daunting to high school students at first, by the end of their time in the program they begin to understand the importance of their experience on campus and get, according to Christina from Connecticut, an “eye-opening experience of what life at UConn could possibly be.” Justin from Connecticut remarked, “It was even better than I imagined it would be. I felt like a college student and got more information about college life out of the program than any other experience.” And Michele from California added, “This program provided me with a good balance of college lifestyle, subject based learning, and workshop learning.The summer staff members were very sweet and welcoming and we were able to do a lot of evening activities that were really fun.”

 

Students also experience social opportunities similar to that of incoming college freshman. While spending time in the program, students are able to hurdle social obstacles and make friends, which can be difficult when in a new environment. Our summer staff, including mostly current UConn undergraduate and graduate students, are as inclusive as possible of all students and convey the message that students are in a safe space where they can express themselves and feel comfortable in their own skin. On the first day of student check-in and drop off, students are usually anxious about meeting new people and may be shy to get to know one another, so making friends can be difficult. Once students realize that they are all in the same boat, however, friends are made quickly. Emelyn from Connecticut could relate, saying, “Even people who are shy like me can find people to hang out with.” The Pre-College Summer program provides many fun and exciting experiences and activities through which students can bond, such as unorganized sporting events, game and movie nights, visiting downtown Storrs, taking walks on Horsebarn Hill, and even a talent show! This past summer we also included horseback riding lessons provided by the Department of Animal Sciences for students who are passionate about riding. It’s clear by the end of the week that after all of these amazing experiences, students are sad to leave campus and their newly made friends to return home. Meira from Massachusetts remarked, “I’m not going to lie, I was pretty nervous about coming to UConn, but everyone is friendly and it only took a day for me to get comfortable. I definitely wish I stayed longer, it’s an unforgettable experience! It may be scary at first, but you’ll have a 50+ person family to back you up!” Yazmin from Massachusetts also reflected on her total experience in the program, saying, “It was a truly unforgettable experience. I had the opportunity to create bonds with different people and experience the ACTUAL college life while sleeping in the dorms, eating in the dining halls, and being taught by an actual college professor. We were also given a bit of freedom just like real college students. This program has a lot of variety and it’s a must.”
 

The impact that Pre-College Summer has on students is truly remarkable. While the experience is new and intimidating at first, students learn so much about themselves and who they would like to become in college. It’s amazing to think that UConn’s Pre-College Summer Program will host its 5th summer beginning in July of 2018. The 4-week program will run from July 8th through August 4th 2018, and program registration will open in December of 2017. For more information, please visit pcs.uconn.edu or contact our office at 860-486-0149.

 

DJ Workshop PCS Dairy Bar Trip PCS

A Glimpse into UConn’s Pre-College Summer Program: A Student’s Perspective

By Erin Donohue
As one of 256 rising high school juniors and seniors participating in UConn’s Pre-College Summer Program, Becca was able to get a true feel for life as a college student. Leaving the comfort of family and
friends, Becca was both anxious and excited about living away from home for the first time. After a swift check-in process, Becca and her parents were shown to her surprisingly spacious and air conditioned room by a member of the residential staff, where she met her program roommate, Annie. Once her parents left, the reality hit that Becca was now on her own, and as she looked at her class schedule, which included her academic area of choice, Digital Media: Game Design, each morning for 3 hours (3 hours!?) and options for daily afternoon workshops, she felt uneasy about her week ahead. Although the upbeat, friendly residential staff made students feel comfortable and welcome at student orientation, Becca was still apprehensive about her morning class.
The next morning, Becca walked and chatted with Annie on the way to the dining hall where breakfast
was being served. She was eager to get to class and learn something new. Her instructor was passionate
and enthusiastic about the material he was teaching. He immediately engaged and guided students in
the hands-on design of their own individualized game after showing them the basics. Becca could not
help but notice the small number of students in her class and felt less intimidated about asking questions
and expressing concerns about course material that she was unsure of and even the transition to learning at the college level. After lunch, all students attended the afternoon workshop, a lively game of Bafa Bafa: an interactional experience that promotes cultural diversity and awareness through role play of pretend cultures. Although she enjoyed morning class, the strangeness of engaging in role play with students she barely knew overwhelmed Becca, who was visibly upset as she left the workshop. After speaking to a faculty member, Becca was able to reframe the situation and make the best of a situation in which she felt vulnerable.
Becca would not know it at the time, but this moment of uncertainty, anxiety, and frustration was pivotal
in her transformation in maturity and confidence as the program progressed. Becca realized that she may not like some aspects of college, but she would make the best of them and be the best version of herself in situations she could control. The remainder of the week, Becca excelled in her Game Design course, and even made friends with a number of students in her class. She mingled with students from other academic areas like Sports Medicine and Creative Writing at fun, focused workshops on choosing a college major, writing a college application essay, and how to market yourself in college. She even ran through an inflatable obstacle course thanks to UConn’s ROTC program. Afternoon free time was spent lounging on the lawn, playing unorganized sports, and checking out the UConn Bookstore. Evening hours were spent with program students eating ice cream at the Dairy Bar, taking walks through UConn’s scenic campus, or listening to “jam sessions” with instruments that students brought from home.
Students in UConn’s Pre-College Summer program have all gone through experiences similar to Becca where they have encountered small or large moments of epiphany and subsequent personal growth. This ability of the program to provide students with a genuine experience of college life is a reason for its growth from a humble beginning in 2014 by former Program Director Neal Olderman. Since 2014, the length of the program has doubled from a total of 2 to 4 weeks, and student numbers as well as number of academic areas have quadrupled thanks to Olderman’s efforts. In 2014, all students attended the program for just one week, while in 2016 students enrolled for multiple weeks: 13 students attended for 2 weeks, 1 student for 3 weeks, and 1 student attended the program all 4 weeks. UConn’s Pre-College Summer program also expanded its national and international reach in 2016. Students attended the program from New England states down to Florida and across the country from Colorado and California, as well as across borders from Canada, Puerto Rico, Colombia, and China, making it the most diverse group of students yet.
The success of UConn’s Pre-College Summer program is truly a team effort. Ambitious undergraduate and graduate students serve as role models to program students and work as residential staff to support
and inform students regarding their questions about college life. Additionally, in the spring of 2016, Nella Quasnitschka worked alongside Neal Olderman to transition into the role of Program Director.
Quasnitschka states, “As PCS continues to grow, we are adding new academic cohorts in exciting areas of
study along with 2-hour blocks of afternoon classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Students will be able to

register for classes that will allow them to innovate, create, think, and get hands on experiences in classrooms, laboratories, and other buildings that you’d only find at a top University like UConn. With an increase of students registering for multiple sessions, we plan to offer more two week sessions.”
It is hard to believe that UConn’s Pre-College Summer Program is entering its fourth year in the summer of 2017. The 4 week program will run from the beginning of July through the beginning of August 2017, and program registration will open the end of November 2016.
For more information, please visit http://precollege-summer.uconn.edu/ or contact our office at 860-486-0149.
Pre-College Summer Group Photo Pre-College Summer Group Photo Pre-College Summer Group Photo

UConn Hosts Pre-College High School Students

by William Page and Neal Olderman
This past summer UConn hosted over 120 rising high school juniors and seniors providing them with an opportunity to explore their higher education options. During their stay, students lived on the Storrs campus in air-conditioned residential housing, shared meals at dining halls, and attended non-credit classes taught by UConn Faculty.
Choosing from 15 different academic areas, 2015 students were immersed in a college-level learning environment with other students who have similar academic interests. Small classes encouraged a one on one relationship with faculty. In addition to their academic cohorts, all students came together for skill-building workshops, including exploring the College Major Selection Process. “Students and parents report that the program answered many questions regarding planning for college and campus-life,” says Program Director, Neal Olderman.
Makaila Cerrone, a Pre-College Summer student states, “…the small classroom size and opportunity to really talk and connect with the professor is not something you usually find at a big school. Being able to have this personal attention allowed us to go really in-depth on our subjects and made me realize a love I had for sociology that I never would have known about.”
Pivotal to the success of the program are the Near-Peer Mentors, who also serve as residential staff. These high-achieving, college undergraduate, and graduate students are a source of support and information pertaining to college and campus life. Olderman states, “Many students enter college without a full understanding of what’s expected of them. The Pre-College Summer at UConn program provides students with a taste of the challenges and rewarding experiences college-life has to offer, as well as, a strong peer group that participants can connect with long after the program ends.”
Now entering its third year, UConn plans to expand this program to four one-week sessions offered during July and August of 2016.
ECE Student Quotes