‘Summer at Columbia’ to offer high school students college credit

By Marisa Sobotka, Campus Reporter

Gabriel de la Mora
‘Summer at Columbia’ to offer high school students college credit

Columbia is piloting a new program for high school students who want to earn college credits while being immersed in Chicago.

The program, called Summer at Columbia, will take place  from July 10–28 and offer an on-campus residential option as well as a commuter option. Registration is open until June 1.

According to Robert Tenges, assistant provost for Continuing & Community Education, the program will be an introduction to both the college as well as the students’ future majors and industries. 

Previously, the college’s High School Summer Institute, which has run for the last 30 years, offered new, specialized courses for high school students. Tenges said institute courses were not transferable to Columbia departments and other institutions, so it was time for the program to “pivot” into something more practical for students.

“We thought that in the interest of honoring credits, we would have a greater impact by actually repurposing existing curriculum, rather than designing special high school courses,” Tenges said.

The Communication, Interactive Arts and Media, Dance, Cinema Art and Science, Business and Entrepreneurship, and Fashion departments will all be participating in the program, he said.

Residential students can register for six different immersion areas while commuter students can earn credits in 25 courses from varied departments, said Suzanne McBride, Chair of the Communication Department  and one of the program’s faculty mentors.

McBride said that the courses are identical to ones offered to all freshmen except they can be completed in three weeks. The high school students will meet every day to fulfill the 45 contact-hour requirement and will earn three transferable credit hours

Melissa Gamble, lecturer in the Fashion Department and faculty mentor, will be teaching “Introduction to Fashion Industry.” The course will include visiting designers around the city.

“It will open [students’] eyes to different parts of the industry and offer a better understanding of what it means to study fashion,” Gamble said. “They have an opportunity to experience both the industry and the city.”

The residential program, which costs approximately $6,000 per student, includes living at the Residence Center, 731 S. Plymouth Court, with full meal plans and resident assistants on every floor to aid students throughout their stay.

McBride said residential students will have opportunities thouroughout their stay to explore popular places around the city, including Navy Pier and Millennium Park.

“In addition to taking classes, they will also being doing other activities related in some way to their work and practice those things beyond the classroom,” McBride said.

Tenges added that Columbia will be taking full responsibility for the students’ experiences by mapping their schedules and planning “industry-specific immersions” that are different from other institutions.

Tenges said the school plans to review how the program fulfills expectations and whether changes are needed. He added that the college hopes to boost enrollment and begin a conversation with students earlier through the program.

“It will be very interesting to see how beginning these conversations sooner will land in terms of enrollment,” Tenges said. “We want to deliver an authentic program for students deeply connected to their academic endeavors.”