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Make the Transition from High School to College Easier with Summer Academy

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Are you a high-schooler or parent of one who is eager to know what college life is really like?

Summer experiences at universities have been gaining popularity as an opportunity to acclimate and better prepare young adults for college. 

These learning experiences give high school students who have completed 10th, 11th, or 12th grade an in-depth look into what it’s like being on campus and in the classroom.

At UVM, we know the transition to college isn’t always easy; that’s why our Summer Academy program is carefully curated to help high schoolers feel confident about college. 

As Summer Academy celebrates ten years of supporting students, UVM Professional and Continuing Education program organizers Alison Maynard and Nichole Hathaway discuss the program’s benefits and updates. 

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On-Campus Learning Resumes with New and Existing Summer Academy Courses

Summer Academy allows students to take 4-weeks of a college course in July in Burlington, Vermont, while they live in the dorms on campus, participate in activities, and have the opportunity to make lasting friendships.

Due to COVID-19, Summer Academy shifted to virtual learning for three years. As the program returns to its pre-COVID format in 2023, students will live in the dorms on campus for the first two weeks and finish with virtual learning for the second two weeks. Students are in class for about five hours a day, four days a week, for the first two weeks. “Our intention is for students to have an immersive learning experience when they are on campus, so they do most of the course work and engagement with the class material while they are on campus for the first two weeks of class,” said Maynard. “The courses are front-loaded so that they have that intensive eight days of instruction while on campus.”

Summer Academy Health and Medicine Students on Campus at UVM
Summer Academy Health and Medicine Students on Campus at UVM

Maynard says each year, Summer Academy course offerings are adjusted based on students’ changing interests and faculty input. New and existing offerings this year include: 

  • Biomedical Science and Human Disease
  • Health and Medicine
  • Introduction to Agroecology & Community Engagement (new) 
  • Introductory Neuroscience (online only)
  • Writing the Real World with a Creative Lens (new)

One of the biggest changes is to the curriculum of the existing medical courses.  

“With health and medicine, there will be a shift from focusing on COVID-19 to looking at the different aspects of medical research happening on campus,” Maynard said. “With Biomedical Science and Human Disease, students will have the opportunity to get behind microscopes and get lab experience. We’re excited to have students come back and do the hands-on lab work,” Maynard said.

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A Lesson in College Culture

Summer Academy is not only an educational experience, but it is also a cultural experience. UVM curates and oversees a special activity schedule for the students, including everything from beach time to a baseball game and a visit to the farmer’s market. 

“Think about being in Burlington in July and going to the beach – it’s so important. Not to say it’s more important than the academics, but it’s also central to the UVM student experience,” Maynard said. “There is the campus-based experienced with the classrooms, labs, and academics, and there’s also this vibrant community that students get to live in and experience.”

Burlington Waterfront
Burlington Waterfront

A special treat this year is the fourth of July experience. Students will have the day off to participate in an off-campus activity, and see an outdoor movie in the evening, followed by a private viewing of the Burlington fireworks from a UVM building that overlooks Lake Champlain. 

“We have so many fun activities to fill their week,” Hathaway said. “There is usually a social justice piece that the RAs do with them. We also try to mix in wellness activities, and they can choose from everything from yoga to ice skating at Cairns arena.”

Of course, Hathaway says there is time each evening for homework (and socializing) too. Each course culminates in a final project rather than an exam.

“These are high school students; we know they stay up late. They have designated time in the evening to do homework and catch up on projects together,” Hathaway said.

Why Summer Academy is Not Just for Prospective UVM Students

Though Summer Academy is an excellent primer for attending UVM, Maynard says that isn’t why all students attend. In 2022, between UVM’s Summer Academy and Pre-College courses, approximately 30 percent of high school students who participated later applied to UVM.

Some students do it because they want to attend UVM and get a better sense of the campus and what they want to study. Some students are looking for a college experience because they, especially Vermont students, don’t intend to go to UVM,” Maynard said. “They want to differentiate themselves in their college applications and have this experience and credential to show they are ready for college.”

Another big reason many students attend Summer Academy is to get a college course (and college credits!) for free with in-state dual enrollment or at 50 percent off the regular tuition rate (out-of-state).

The Details and How to Register for Summer Academy

So, how do you decide if Summer Academy is right for you or your student? And what do students, faculty, and parents have to say about Summer Academy?

Join an upcoming information session or visit the Summer Academy website to learn more. 

“It’s intensive and rigorous, and they also have this experience where they are in this beautiful place at a beautiful time of year,” Maynard reflected. 

UVM’s Pre-College Programs are both online and on campus.

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