The University of Mississippi’s Summer College for High School Students is a four-week academic program for rising juniors and seniors who want to experience university life. Students earn college credit, get familiar with the collegiate environment and develop social, personal and academic skills that will increase their overall success in college.
The program’s goal is to mentor students as they learn soft skills that will prepare them to succeed in a postsecondary environment, said Ellen Shelton, who has been UM director of pre-college programs since 2013.
“For our office, we want to create avenues that allow students to advance intellectually, socially and emotionally,” Shelton said. “We have several programs that focus on a specific course of study, such as pre-pharmacy or English, or we have more general education options that allow students to start on their postsecondary experiences.
“While I want all students to attend the University of Mississippi, I want all students to see themselves in whatever future they choose. We want to help students create those futures. We are working with the future leaders of our state and our nation, and that’s exciting to me.”
Between the two sessions this year, May 27-June 25 and June 26-July 26, the program enrolls between 270 and 300 students.
“Some programs, such as the Lott Leadership Program for Rising 12 Graders enroll 25 students during each summer term,” Shelton said. “Some programs, such as the StarTalk Chinese Program, enroll 30 students in the second summer term. Each summer, the balance changes, but the second summer session usually has more participants.”
Amy Goodin, project coordinator for the elementary and middle school programs, was in the Lott Leadership Institute for High School Students and took Political Science 101 and Speech 102.
“It was one of the most amazing experiences I’ve ever had,” Goodin said. “I was a first-generation college student, and Summer College for High School Students gave me an experience like none other.
“It allowed me to become comfortable on a college campus, it took away the fear and impossibility of college classes, and it introduced me to people from a variety of backgrounds that I never would have met otherwise. Because of SCHS, I was able to see myself in this new world and had a new-found confidence in myself and my abilities as I finished high school and entered college.”
Goodin has been project coordinator for two and a half years, and she said her firsthand experience with the program has given her great insight into the students’ minds and the minds of their parents.
“It helps me to stay ahead of the game when sending out information to parents, it allows me to understand parents’ worries and fears because I remember how my mom felt when I went through the program, and it helps me set aside the ‘work’ sometimes and just have fun with our students,” she said.
Students not only experience some of the fun inside the classroom but outside as well.
Second-year pharmacy school student Jontae Warren participated in the SCHS program in 2012 and 2013, and he remembers participating in many fun activities outside the classroom.
“I do remember us meeting up in small groups throughout the week and doing things like walking to the Square, doing activities at the Turner Center or making trips to Walmart,” Warren said. “My favorite activity was at the end of the program; we would take a boat ride in Memphis and have a party with great food.”
He added that he would recommend SCHS to high school students.
“I think that this is a great opportunity to learn to be independent for sure because you are away from your parents,” Warren said. “It prepares you for college courses, and you get used to being inside a classroom with various ages and backgrounds. Most importantly, you meet people who you develop friendships with and mentor relationships with so that when you actually start college, you don’t feel out of place or alone.”
To learn more about SCHS, visit outreach.olemiss.edu/schs.
Kathryn Abernathy is a senior journalism major and an intern in University Marketing and Communications.