Sep 8, 2010
By Monica Chapman
Though the majority of incoming freshmen are just now beginning their academic experiences, others are already knee-deep, thanks to OHIO’s Early Start and Honors Academy programs. As a part of Ohio University’s Summer Sessions, these programs enable motivated students to jumpstart the college experience through coursework prior to the official start of the academic year.
The Ohio University Summer Honors Academy provides high school students an opportunity to enroll in select college courses and experience life on campus.
Participating students can take one or two regular university classes, relying on OHIO’s student mentors for advice, assistance and tutoring. Students also have the option to take an exploration seminar, where they can learn about the college application process, college majors and related careers.
“I thought by doing this, it gets my feet in the water and gives me a chance to see what OU is like,” said academy participant Matt Helm, a high school junior from Vincent, Ohio.
The benefits are twofold, according to Pat Davidson, assistant director of Summer Sessions, OU Online and Winter Intercession. Not only do the students get a head start, but Ohio University also has an opportunity to appeal to the best and brightest of its high school prospects, she said.
“We made the entrance requirements pretty stiff because we wanted to attract students who were fully capable of doing the work, so the Honors Academy lives up to its name. These are top-caliber students,” Davidson said. “We fully hope that this will be a recruiting program and that several of the students will decide to matriculate to Ohio University as college students.”
High school senior Molly McDonough earned credit in algebra while attending OHIO’s Honors Academy this summer. She also completed University College 190: Learning Community Seminar, alongside 12 other Honors Academy participants.
“At the beginning of the summer, I was bumming that I’d have to leave all my friends,” said McDonough, a native of Granville, Ohio. “But when I got to (Athens), I realized I could see myself there in the future. (Ohio University) is at the top of my list when I go to apply for schools this fall.”
The Honors Academy is open to students who have completed the 9th, 10th or 11th grades and who have earned at least a 3.25 on a 4.0 grade scale.
Open to the entire freshman fall class, Early Start Freshman Summer Experience gives freshmen a chance to delve into their Ohio University studies one quarter early.
According to Davidson, students enroll in Early Start for a wide variety of reasons.
Some are hoping to ease a heavy course load; some are athletes, who are already on campus training for fall sports; others are getting ahead to make room for study abroad experiences later in their college careers.
“But for many students, if they’re really looking forward to starting college, they’re ready just to come and begin,” Davidson said.
The Early Start program offers two five-week sessions, which include Bobcat Student Orientation and the opportunity to enroll in up to four courses.
With the extra credits under their belts, program participants have the added advantage of being able to register for fall classes before the majority of incoming freshmen, giving them a better chance of getting their first pick among classes that fill quickly.
This was the biggest advantage for program participant Elizabeth Schnipke, who is now an extra 15 credit hours ahead of the rest of the Class of 2014, thanks to OHIO's Early Start offerings.
"It was really nice to be able to get to know the campus without 20,000 other students here," said Schnipke. "I got the chance to explore the town a little, and learn where all my classes were...I also got to meet the other people in the early start program, and some upperclassmen. It's really nice already knowing people when the rest of my class is walking in blindly."