illustration by Lily Nikias

16 and in College?

illustration by Lily Nikias
illustration by Lily Nikias

What are you doing this summer? A terrifying and loaded question, that causes many a high school student to wince and evade the subject. It is stressful for us all, especially those who will be upperclassmen, to think about the options. Around this time of year, many students will be starting to look at different summer programs. Some will choose a summer camp or sports clinic while others may travel or work. But I have a proposition, have you thought about going to college?

Obviously, you will not be going to actual college, but rather enroll in a pre-college program at one of many universities across the country. These schools tend to offer credit or noncredit courses in a plethora of departments, often ranging anywhere from 1-8 weeks. At some universities, high school students will even be enrolled in the same classes as college students who are also looking to gain credits over the summer. These students will be expected to work at the same level as the college students and to keep up with a rigorous workload at the college level. It is certainly intimidating, but very worthwhile.

Last summer, I enrolled in a pre-college program at NYU for local journalism, focused on the East Village. Going into it, I knew this intense, seven week program would be a lot to manage the summer before I entered my junior year, the most intense academic year in high school. Reflecting on it, since I was taking college level classes throughout the summer, I was able to maintain my work ethic going into junior year, which was fantastic. However, I should note that I felt burnt out and exhausted at the end of the seven weeks, and the last thing I wanted to think about was returning to school.

The best part about my time at NYU was assuredly the new and diverse group of people I met. From my professors to my peers, their differences in ideologies and experiences from my own opened my eyes to a world outside of my routine life. Students from all over the country and the world often enroll in these programs, and it fosters an environment of discussions that one would never find at home. Also, the NYU experience exposed me to college life in a large city which is a very different feeling from going to school in the suburbs, like Ridgewood. This has helped in shaping my college search and narrowing down the types of schools I am looking for.

But please be warned, pre-college programs are not for every student. Often those who enroll are motivated and very hard working people who want to further their education throughout the summer. Many of these programs do require an application with specific writing components and you usually have to send your transcripts or a teacher recommendation.  Applying can seem fairly daunting and giving up your summer to go to school may seem awful. Truthfully, it is not quite like that and I would highly recommend that anyone who is interested in attending a pre-college program go through with it. While the focus is on academics, it is not all about school and students are given freedom to explore the city or town in which the college is located. Spending time at NYU was invaluable, and positively affected many of my views not only in the academic world, but life in general. Pre-college is a wonderful experience and definitely a path you should consider this summer.

Olivia Columbus

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