This summer the University hosts over 150 high school students enrolled in a variety of academic programs. The fifteen-, sixteen-, and seventeen-year-olds will be living in Max Palevsky Residential Commons Central and using University facilities such as Bartlett Dining Commons, Regenstein Library, and Cobb Hall.
The students come from many different places and reflect an assortment of intellectual interests. "It's [a] very diverse [group]," said Bruce Tharp, resident director at the Graham School of General Studies, which runs the programs. "Students come from all over the US, and we even have several international students from places like Turkey and Kuwait."
The summer curriculum is divided into four major programsSummer College, Insight, RIBS (Research in the Biological Sciences), and Stones and Bones. All students undergo an application and admission process overseen by the University prior to entering any of these programs.
Summer College gives high school scholars an opportunity to participate in college level classes alongside University students and earn college credit. Students also gain experience by getting a sense of campus life at a university. "It's a win-win situation. Students want to come and take classes because they receive college credit. And they can also test what it's like to be living at college," Tharp said.
Insight offers students a more specific and intense courses of study in several particular fields, ranging from creative writing to the biological sciences.
RIBS (Research in the Biological Sciences) gives students hands-on experience in the laboratory working with University faculty and graduate students in medical and other biological topics. Lectures and classes accompany labs to give students the knowledge they need to conduct their own research."I have always loved biology but it's not like I planned something like this for years," said Ellie Campisano, a student in RIBS. "I was just looking for something in the arts and sciences and went to the University's website. It [the program] sounded amazing. The work is really intense and I'm getting real experience."
Stones and Bones is a unique chance for students interested in paleontology to work closely with well-known University paleontologist Paul Sereno in a field study in Wyoming. Students spend the first several weeks at the University and then leave for the desert on an archeological dig. "I've loved paleontology since I was a little girl, and I wanted a chance to work with Paul Sereno personally," said one participant in the program.
Students in all summer studies attend lectures and workshops designed to introduce them to college life beyond the regular course work. University faculty and administration are often the presenters, and the topics reflect a wide selection of subjects from college admissions to sexual harassment.
While the students are on campus, they will participate in planned evening social activities. "We've got a ton of stuff to do. There's something about every day," Tharp said. "We obviously have several Chicago trips led by the Resident Assistants to places like [Diversey] Rock and Bowl, the Art Institute, and a White Sox game later in the summer."
Administrators remarked that the students' parents were concerned about safety in Hyde Park, and the students are kept to a ten thirty curfew, which Sharp finds effective. "The program has been very successful. No safety or security issues have arisen in the three years I've been here," Sharp said."The program itself has been around for four years, but I'm unaware of any problems they may have had."
Many students commented on both the number of activities and the comfort of the resident halls. "The dorm is great. I love the apartment style quads they have here," said Arie Pestovitz, a student in the Stones and Bones program.
The University also uses the summer sessions to its advantage. "The University certainly uses it as a recruiting tool," Tharp said. "Many students go for interviews while they are here."
Although administrators could not comment on whether involvement in the University's summer program gave students a direct advantage in the University's admissions office, they were confident that participation would help in the students' general college search and application process.
"I think it's cool that high school students are here," said Julia Jack-Scott, a third year in the College. "It makes the campus seem more alive when a lot of the undergraduates are away on break."