The IC Experience

By Desiree Holz ’23, August 11, 2022

Summer College brings campus life to high school students.

While the majority of Ithaca College students are home during the summer, that doesn’t mean South Hill has been dormant. The Office of Extended Studies has ensured the campus has remained busy, and from July 5 to July 22 offered rising high school seniors an opportunity to get a taste of college courses with an intensive “Summer College for High School Students" program.

The annual program enrolls students from a variety of backgrounds in one of four courses. This year’s offerings were public speaking, personal health, writing for screen media, and computer and information technologies.

Joslyn Brenton, associate professor of sociology and director of Summer College for High School Students, said that the course offerings differ every summer, allowing students a diversity of options if they hope to take part in the program multiple years in a row. Course offerings also change based interest and what the professors’ areas of expertise.

“In the past, we’ve offered courses from all schools,” she said. “We’ve had a business course, theater course, sociology course, psychology classes, and environmental studies classes, so it changes yearly.”

“The majority of students who come to this program would be first-gen college students. I was also a first-gen college student, and I tell students about the first time I stepped foot on a college campus, and I think to myself now, ‘gosh, I could’ve used a program like this.’”

Joslyn Brenton, associate professor of sociology and director of Summer College for High School Students

Critically, because the quality of instruction is so high, the students receive college credit for taking part in the program.

“All of these courses are courses that are on the books at Ithaca College as regular undergraduate courses, and they’re taught by professors who usually teach them in their various schools,” said Eric Machan Howd ’90, director of extended studies. “Once they're done, they get three credits. They can use them at IC or transfer them someplace else.”

The course schedule was truly immersive, taking place from Monday to Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.. Most students took part in the courses on campus, which meant that students as young as 15 were given a similar experience to that of a college student.

“It's everything that a first-year college student experiences intensely in that first semester, they’re getting in three weeks,” Brenton said. “Tons of skill building, also just being away from home. Most people have never been away from home for three straight weeks.”

Students sitting and standing outside

In addition to their work in the classroom, students got a chance to experience life on a college campus.

The program also embodies several of goals in Ithaca Forever’s strategic plan. In addition to furthering the goal of being a year-round campus, it also deepens community partnerships by partnering with organizations to offer scholarships covering the cost of attendance for students, several of whom are local.

“We have foundation partners that we work with, and these foundations are non-profits that help students who are underrepresented in colleges to have a chance at a college experience in high school to determine if it’s a good pathway for them,” Machan Howd said.  

The program also highlights the plan’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion  by providing opportunities for first-generation college students.

“The majority of students who come to this program would be first-gen college students,” Brenton said. “I was also a first-gen college student, and I tell students about the first time I stepped foot on a college campus, and I think to myself now, ‘gosh, I could’ve used a program like this.’”

Ann Marie Adams, lecturer in the department of media arts, sciences, and studies, taught the public speaking course, and firmly believes in the program’s value.

“I’ve run into several students this past week and had conversations with them about the program, and they love it. They expressed that Ithaca College is on their shortlist and they’d love to come here.”

Eric Machan Howd ’90, director of extended studies

“I think every higher education institution looking at the incoming generation of college students, would find some value in offering opportunities for individuals to come to campus,” she said.

Both Brenton and Machan Howd highlighted how the program also gives students a strong connection to Ithaca College.

“I’ve run into several students this past week and had conversations with them about the program, and they love it,” Machan Howd said. “They expressed that Ithaca College is on their shortlist and they’d love to come here.”

“Bringing in people from Chicago, New York City, rural areas, city areas– you learn so much just hearing from different types of people, that was such an integral part of the experience.”

Alexander Rahaman, rising senior at Lansing High School

One of those students was Maggie Schneider, a rising senior at Ithaca High School.

“IC has already been on my list of prospective schools, but this has been a good experience, kind of solidifying that this is a college I might want to consider attending,” she said.

Alexander Rahaman, a rising senior at Lansing High School, praised his experience in Adams’ course.

“The college did a superb job bringing diverse communities,” Rahaman said. “Bringing in people from Chicago, New York City, rural areas, city areas– you learn so much just hearing from different types of people, that was such an integral part of the experience. They did an amazing job at that.”

Brenton and Machan Howd are now setting their sights on next summer's programming, looking at how they can pivot operations in hopes of accommodating to the ever-changing landscape of higher education.

“We know that this is a very valuable program, we have to make sure we are marketing it as such and also keeping the program meeting the needs of the current high school student that’s getting ready to go to college, and that student is a radically different student than even five years ago,” Brenton said. “The terrain is shifting.”

For more information on the Summer College for High School Students program, check out their website and the website of Extended Studies at Ithaca College