Summer Camp for Scholars

08/01/2007
By Used with permission from the Lowell Sun Online By SUSAN McMAHON Sun Staff

LOWELL Summertime is often filled with camps basketball, baseball, soccer and football sessions that encourage athletic ability.
At UMass Lowell, those students who are more academically inclined can go to camp as well.

As part of the university's High School Scholars summer program, students with a desire to go to college have the opportunity to take their major for a test drive before they decide to buy.

The high school scholars program allows a select number of high school sophomores and juniors to live at UMass Lowell for a week, take classes in a concentration of their choosing, and immerse themselves in the college atmosphere.

"It provides them with a glimpse of not just the academic piece but the whole college experience," said Karen Humphrey-Johnson, associate director of admissions at UMass Lowell. "They're at a time when they're really starting the college search. It's a great way to see if this is the right fit."

Concentrations include art and design, engineering, environmental science, health professions, mathematics and robotics. Students come on-campus for a four-day period (Sunday through Thursday) at the end of June and take part in the small classes.

The program is the brainchild of Arnold O'Brien, chairman of the university's Department of Environmental, Earth and Atmospheric Sciences. O'Brien combined his experience with his own children, who enjoyed similar summer camps, with his knowledge that students often don't know what an environmental science degree entails.

He conceived of a summer program where high school students can explore environmental science classes while living on the university campus.

"Hopefully, when they leave, they have a good sense of how you can get a degree in this and work in the field," O'Brien said.

Typically, about 40 students are spread throughout the concentrations. At the conclusion of the four days, students and staff celebrate with a presentation dinner, where a student spokesman usually describes their accomplishments throughout the camp.

These evocations are always positive and show the maturity and poise of the students, O'Brien said.

"A major transformation has occurred," he said. "They've become very comfortable at the university and grown a lot in terms of their understanding of the subject area."

University officials are accepting applications now for this summer's program, and they expect to see much of the same positive experiences they've witnessed over the three years of scholars.

"They're really getting a well-rounded experience here," Humphrey-Johnson said