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Syracuse City High School Students Among Those Experiencing College Life
Twenty-four Syracuse City School District high school students were awarded scholarships to attend Syracuse University’s Summer College Program. The scholarships were a partnership between Syracuse University and the Syracuse City School District and were awarded based on academic achievement or potential and financial need.
Syracuse University Summer College has been giving high school students the opportunity to learn about potential careers and college majors for over 50 years. The students stay in campus housing and have the opportunity to explore credit and non-credit courses such as 3D Art Studio, Fashion and Accessories Design, or Aerospace Engineering.
Students navigate daily life much like a full-time college student. In addition to taking classes, they live in a residence hall, have meals with friends in a dining hall and participate in social activities and events. Students return home and to their high schools with less anxiety and intimidation about going to college, and more enthusiasm and a sense of being “ready” for what’s ahead.
“Syracuse University has been a tremendous partner for many years, offering programming and experiences on campus to our students that emphasizes the importance of higher education,” says Jaime Alicea, Syracuse City School Superintendent. “From the longstanding Shadow Day Program for fifth-grade students to college students tutoring and mentoring our youth, our partnership benefits all of our students. Summer college and the scholarships afforded our students are invaluable in helping them decide their future.”
Dom Donnay, Jr., a senior at the Institute of Technology at Syracuse Central, says the Summer College experience showed him what true college life was like.
“I think the most challenging thing for me was trying to transition into the mindset of being a college student,” says Donnay. “It also taught me that I will need to work hard to get where I want to be in the years to come.”
Donnay says he enjoyed the experience because it exposed him to new knowledge about complex issues. “Taking SOC101 at Syracuse University can be added to the college credits I’ve already earned in high school, and I will be able to obtain my bachelor’s degree in less than four years.”
Marriah Hudson attends Henninger High School. She was accepted into the Fashion and Accessories Design Program. “This experience will show other colleges that (I apply to) I’m committed to attending college after high school,” says Hudson. “I will be the first generation in my family to go to college, and this experience increased my desire to attend.”
Six hundred and sixty-eight high school students from 25 countries and 34 U.S. states attended the program, which is delivered in one-to-six week sessions. Syracuse City School District students were nominated by high school guidance counselors across the district to apply to the program. They then complete and submit an application that is very similar to that of undergraduate admissions.
Hector Ferrer, a senior at the Public Service Leadership Academy (PSLA) at Fowler High School, was surprised to meet students from around the world. Like many first-time college students, Ferrer found it challenging to balance his academic requirements and social activities.
Chris Cofer, executive director of Summer College, says that the challenges students overcome in a pre-college experience set them up for a measure of success when they begin at a two-year or four-year institution.
“Students are encouraged to lean in to the challenges and to take full advantage of the opportunities presented to them during their Summer College experience,” says Cofer. “After students return home, parents often tell us their son/daughter express being more excited about beginning their college career because of attending Summer College.”
“I was so excited that the Syracuse City School District gave me this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” says Ferrer, whose participation in the Drone Tech program at Fowler heightened his interest in engineering. He was grateful to have been admitted into the Aerospace Engineering program at Summer College. “I will use the knowledge I gained to try to stand out from other applicants during the college application process.”
“I would tell other high school students to apply for the program,” adds Donnay. “They will meet some amazing people, including some who traveled internationally to attend Summer College. Embracing this opportunity can help you figure out what you want to do with your future.”