Pre-College offers a look at campus life

Harvard University is one of the schools that offers High School students a chance to experience early college life.

Courtesy of Creative Commons

Harvard University is one of the schools that offers High School students a chance to experience early college life.

Phoebe Drummond

Senior Sam LaRochelle of Middletown, or “Cheerio Girl” as nicknamed by a Harvard University professor, will never forget the memories she made at Harvard’s Summer School Program this year.

LaRochelle was one of many CHS students to extend their education into summer vacation through pre-college programs. At these programs, students immerse themselves into the everyday routine of life at a university and take classes with professors.

LaRochelle took a workshop class for screenwriting and a psychology class. She lived in a dorm for seven weeks with a roommate from China.

LaRochelle said the program made her feel prepared for college.

“I was in charge of my own schedule and activities … it really was a tiny bite sized version of the real deal,” LaRochelle said.

Different factors motivate students to attend these programs.

“I went because Harvard is at the top of my list and anything that might help me get in is something I want to do,” LaRochelle said.

The fact that LaRochelle attended this program does not guarantee her acceptance to Harvard. But having preexisting Harvard credit looks good on an application, “especially if you did well because it shows you can handle the work,” LaRochelle said.

Meanwhile Nicole Molnar, a junior of Rumson, attended the medical institute at Georgetown University because of her interest in the medical field.

“I’m particularly interested in surgery,” Molnar said.

Instead of a longer program, Molnar only stayed on campus for a  week.

Sophomore Mary Eknonian of Wall shared a campus with Molnar this summer. She spent 10 days at Georgetown University for a law program.

Eknonian’s program was not run by the university itself like Molnar’s program. She took part in a program by the National Student Leadership Conference for Law & Advocacy (NSLC). NSLC used Georgetown’s facilities for their own program.

Eknonian said  she is interested in a career in law and thought the program was a good opportunity to learn more.

“At first I was skeptical about becoming a lawyer because I didn’t see myself as someone who would be comfortable going on trial and speaking in front of a judge and a room full of people, but the program taught me about all different types of law and I discovered that I have an interest in family law,” Eknoian said.

Students found that life in college dorms is not too accommodating. LaRochelle lived without air conditioning for seven weeks. Eknonian struggled with broken lights.

“I got so frustrated because I had a case to work on for our mock trial but couldn’t work on it because my room would be pitch black,” Eknonian said. “I already know I’m going to hate the dorm life when I go to college for real.”

But when they took the whole experience into account, Eknonian, LaRochelle and Molnar all had positive outlooks on their pre-college programs.

Molnar had such a great experience that she plans to attend Georgetown’s three-week medical immersion next summer. She is also motivated to attend the longer program in order to receive college credits.

“I’d recommend going to a program like this for anyone curious about a certain field [or] major that they can’t necessarily get exposure to [in high school],” Eknonian said.

LaRochelle said she loved every second of her program.

“I had pretty much complete independence and it was amazing,” LaRochelle said.