Students prepare for college over the summer at camp

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Submitted by Caroline Montague

Sophomore Caroline Montague poses for a picture with other college prep campers. “I do it for the experience, learning and otherwise, you aren’t really thinking about college preparatory activities when you are eight, so I can’t say that’s what drew me to it,” Montague said.

Summer vacation is a break from school, but it also tends to be a break from education in general. Although many St. Paul Academy and Summit School students like to spend their summers without learning, pushing thoughts of school and college that are so often looming to the backs of their minds for three months, others prefer to cultivate their educations with college preparatory programs.

“A college prep program is an opportunity for students to spend some time on a college campus and learn what that’s all about, like living in a community with other people… really having a sense of what it’s like to be in college,”college counselor Karna Humphrey said.

Junior Sarah Romans went to the Carleton Summer Science Institute in Northfield, MN last year. “I didn’t think it was going to be, but actually it was really fun,” Romans said.

Romans went because she hoped it would give her a competitive edge on her college applications, and her hard work has paid off. “I did research, and I get college credit for it. I got a transcript, and I [got] a college recommendation from the professor that I worked with,” Romans said.

College preparatory programs can be an interesting and new experience for students, regardless of whether or not they are attending for the benefit of their college applications. Sophomore Caroline Montague is a regular camper at the Center for Talented Youth through Johns Hopkins University, and will be returning for her eighth year this summer.

“I do it for the experience, learning and otherwise, you aren’t really thinking about college preparatory activities when you are eight, so I can’t say that’s what drew me to it,” Montague said.

A college prep program is an opportunity for students to spend some time on a college campus and learn what that’s all about, like living in a community with other people… really having a sense of what it’s like to be in college.”

— college counselor Karna Humphrey

There is a myriad options of what to study at college preparatory programs, so there are chances to learn more about any interest one might have. “[This year, I’m studying] game theory. I did cognitive psychology last year, which was fun. Ancient Greek the year before, which I was really not good at but was also pretty fun,” Montague said.

“I would definitely recommend it! You have to take classes and stuff, but you actually learn interesting things and you have a lot of free time. It’s not like you’re just doing homework or research or whatever you’re doing all the time. You get to do a lot of fun stuff, too, and meet new people,” Romans said.

While Humphrey believes college preparatory programs can provide students with unique experiences, she thinks  it’s important to remember that there are plenty of different, albeit equally rewarding ways to spend the summer. “I think it’s really different for different students… maybe they have other summer plans, obligations, travel with family, summer jobs, and that can be just as valuable as a college prep program,” Humphrey said, “It really depends on the student and what they want to do for the summer, what makes sense for their family.”

College preparatory programs may not work with everyone’s schedule or budget, but they have options for all students and provide an entertaining way of learning that gives students a peek at the college experience.