Get a Head Start with a Pre-College Program
During my first college visit, at Marist College during my junior year of high school, one part of the otherwise boring presentation that stuck out to me was a mention of their summer pre-college program. At Marist, this is a two week experience at the school that included a three-credit class, field trips, and speakers. Since I was getting bored of high school and my hometown, spending a few weeks at college sounded better than a vacation. Every school I visited offered similar programs, but I picked Marist’s because it was one of the shortest and would cut into my summer job the least. Little did I know that I wouldn’t want to leave.
I started the college process thinking I would major in creative writing, so naturally I enrolled in the creative writing program. The program was a full semester introductory creative writing class packed into two weeks, so class time was about six hours per day. While class time usually isn’t the most anticipated part of the day, the professors who taught it adapted the material to be digestible, fun and challenging for high school students. Before I did this program, I never had an interest in poetry, but the exercises we did and the freedom of subject matter we were allowed made me see it in a whole new light through outdoor exercises, humor, and group work. We took two trips into New York City, one to visit the Metropolitan and Guggenheim museums of art to connect art and literature, and another to visit places where authors like Kerouac did some of their most famous work. The authors of the books we read came in to tell us about their careers and read their work. We learned how to workshop our pieces to make us comfortable sharing our work as well as giving and receiving constructive criticism. Since we lived in student housing during the program, it gave me an idea of what to buy for my dorm once I started at school, and I got used to socializing in such close quarters. Although most pre-college students are supervised, being minors, the resident assistants are current Marist students who were able to provide more insight to the school and college as a whole, and we were all able to freely walk around and hang out on campus.
Although this program made me realize that I preferred journalism to creative writing as a career and college major, I was able to fulfill my fine arts credit, improve my writing skills, gain a realistic idea of college life, get a recommendation letter from a Marist professor, and most importantly, make friends who I still hang out with. I had my heart set on New York University prior to this, but I got to see the advantages of a smaller school like Marist. Other students came in especially interested in Marist but decided that it wasn’t for them. Participating in a pre-college program will give you a better idea of a school than any brief visit, and the leeway you have in subject matter means that you may save yourself the time switching majors or sitting through general education classes when you actually begin college. The program at Marist was around $3,000, and more for their Florence campus; while it is a bit pricy, the experience you will gain from a pre-college program is invaluable. For me, the only disadvantage was that my senior year of high school dragged on way too slowly – I couldn’t wait to get back to Marist!