PROVIDENCE, R.I. [Brown University] — Each summer, Brown students venture from College Hill to all corners of the world to work, travel, study and research — but even in their absence, campus remains a vibrant community filled with activity, academic and otherwise. Some students do stay, taking summer classes, leading admissions tours and pursuing research opportunities on campus. And summer conferences, events and other happenings bring visitors to Brown from around the globe.
Yet the biggest presence on campus, undoubtedly, is the thousands of young people who come to Brown to participate in learning, leadership and athletics opportunities through the University’s vast array of programs for students not yet in college. This year, more than 8,000 students will journey to campus from all 50 states and 74 countries. Most of them will live on campus for between one and seven weeks.
The majority of participants are high school students who live and learn on Brown’s campus as part of Summer@Brown, choosing from more than 300 non-credit courses that represent the range of the University’s undergraduate curriculum. Adrienne Marcus, associate dean for pre-college and undergraduate programs at the School of Professional Studies (which runs Brown’s pre-college programs) says that outside of class, students experience the independence of college life and participate in a full program of events and activities.
“One of the benefits of having thousands of students on campus is that these same students truly get a feel for what attending college feels like,” Marcus said.
Many aspects of the program mirror the first year of college, offering students the chance to navigate new experiences — from living with a roommate to taking challenging courses with students from varied personal and educational backgrounds — within a safe and supportive environment, Marcus says.
“Participants leave Brown with a sense of self-confidence about their abilities to succeed in new settings by working hard, pushing themselves a bit out of their comfort zone and gaining new experience and knowledge by doing so,” she added.
Increasing access to pre-college programs is central to Summer@Brown’s mission, Marcus says. Last year, students received more than $1.6 million in scholarships; this year, Brown will offer a similar level of scholarship funds. And over the past year, the University has worked closely with the Providence Public School District to enroll more local students, resulting in more than six times the number of participating students from the Providence district compared to last year.
“The pre-college space is one where we can provide incredible opportunities to students who may not know about them or who think that these experiences are not for them,” Marcus said. “Even though we often talk about access in terms of providing opportunities to students who wouldn’t normally be able to take part in them, it’s not a one-way street. It also provides important insight to students who do have easier access to these opportunities, exposing them to many more diverse experiences and perspectives. Having students from a broad range of backgrounds enriches the whole community.”
In addition to the many academic offerings, more than 500 high school students participate in either the Brown Leadership Institute or Brown Environmental Leadership Lab. The two-week-long institutes combine the development of socially responsible leadership with focused academic study on topics such as health, global development, social entrepreneurship, public policy and medicine. Students integrate their learning through course workshops on leadership styles, public speaking and active listening and the development of an “action plan” project related to their school or home community.
Brown’s sports camps also bring more than 3,000 students, ages six to 18, to campus for both residential and commuter camps. Students can attend camps specializing in 18 sports from soccer and football to water polo and wresting. Camps are led by Brown’s varsity coaches, their staffs and current Brown athletes.
Other summer programs at Brown include pre-baccalaureate college credit courses for rising or recently graduated high school seniors; an intensive English language program for non-native speaking high school students; a handful of location-based high school programs that embed Brown academics in off-campus locations such as Rome, Spain and the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta; and two-week residential STEM programs for middle and high school students.
As if all of that energy and activity weren’t enough, the University also plays host to a wide range of conferences, meetings and events organized by Brown faculty, staff and students as well as partners from industries beyond higher education. Among this year’s highlights, scholars and professionals will gather to discuss topics ranging from collaborative research in computational neuroscience, the thoughts and writings of 18th century philosopher David Hume, and best practices for university research magazines.