As students head into the summer vacation mode, many parents are wondering how to keep those busy minds and hands busy as the summer months begin to stretch on. One solution is to send your kids to college for the summer!
More and more community colleges across the country are opening their doors to middle school and high school students for summer enrichment programs. These classes provide the opportunity for students to continue learning throughout summer vacation in a fun, low-stress environment that promotes hands-on learning and smaller class sizes for the greatest benefit.
The Benefits of Summer Learning
There are many reasons to consider community college enrichment programs for your middle schooler this summer. According to Public School Review, some of the advantages of summer classes include:
- Programs that emphasize academic instruction provide students with the opportunity to enhance their cognitive skills.
- Any type of summer enrichment program can improve students' social skills and provide opportunity for personal growth.
- Summer programs encourage routine during the summer months and encourage physical activity, which may help prevent behavioral issues and emotional downfalls.
There are many opportunities for summer enrichment today, but allowing kids to visit a community college campus offers additional advantages as well. Children get to experience a college environment firsthand, which may encourage them to pursue a higher education after high school.
Luisa Bascur, director of work force and economic development at Ivy Tech Community College in Michigan, told the News and Tribune, "We think there is a need (for community college programs geared toward middle schoolers). It will also bring students into the community college atmosphere and it lets them see how much fun learning can be. They don't have the pressure of grades being applied to the learning. It's just a great experience."
Where to Go for Programs
Parents who are interested in enrolling middle schoolers into summer enrichment programs have a number of options today. Some programs are geared toward general enrichment classes, while others are specifically focused on providing students with career exploration opportunities.
Consider these two examples of community colleges that are opening their doors to middle school students with very different offerings:
Ivy Tech, Indiana
This community college is leading the way in offering enrichment programs to Indiana’s middle school students. Beginning this summer, students can choose from a variety of Saturday workshops, including basic Spanish, guitar, sign language and the biology of dinosaurs, according to the Ivy Tech course listings.
The classes will be held on the New Albany campus on Saturdays in June and July. Teachers will be both professors from the college, as well as teachers of younger grades. All the teachers in the program have experience working with younger children.
In Iowa, Kirkwood Community College is taking an active role in preparing middle school students for future career opportunities. They are offering Kirkwood Interactive Camps for Kids (KICK programs), which incorporate the career clusters developed by the U.S. Department of Education. These career clusters group similar occupations and industries, with the purpose of allowing youth to explore several career options within a single field of interest, according to the Kirkwood website. Some of the career clusters that can be explored include:
- Architecture and Construction
- Arts, A/V Tech and Communication
- Education and Training
- Green and Renewable Energy
- Health Science
- Hospitality and Tourism
- Information Technology
- Law, Public Safety, Corrections and Security
- Marketing, Sales and Service
- Science, Technology, Engineering and Math
- Transportation, Distribution and Logistics
There appears to be something for everyone at Kirkwood this year, allowing students to explore a broad range of potential professions in a fun, action-packed environment. The learning experience focuses on hands-on activities, whether it is web design or fashion design. The camps are available to students between the ages of nine and 15, and the fees and locations vary by camp. The length of the camp ranges from three days to one full week and are held from June through the first of August.
Community colleges are taking the traditional summer camp experience to an entirely new level with day camps and classes geared toward middle schoolers that are as fun as they are educational. Students get the opportunity to experience life on campus, which may increase their interest in a college education after high school.
If a community college program sounds like the right choice for your child, contact community colleges in your area to find out if programs are available. As the idea picks up steam, parents are likely to see more and more community colleges offering similar programs in their own communities.
Questions? Contact us on Facebook @communitycollegereview.