Rose Albert particpated in the summer college prep program on the Northwestern University campus.
Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?
As I was nearing the end of my sophomore year, I had a discussion with my guidance counselor about college. He knew that I was interested in competitive institutions, so he advised that I research college summer programs. Not only would this give me an edge when it came time to apply, but I could also experience a school more intimately. At the time, I did not realize that it would broaden the lens through which I view the world.
How did you decide which program was right for you?
I am interested in becoming a neonatologist or medical researcher, so I knew that I wanted a college credit course or an academic program that would further my knowledge in these fields. Northwestern University, one of my top choices, happened to offer both through the College Preparation Program. I chose the In Focus seminar on bioscience research over a credit course due to the shorter duration.
What was a typical day in your summer program?
The program was two weeks, and class was from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.. The first week focused on familiarizing students with the concepts and process of research. The teaching style alternated between traditional lectures, class discussion, and field trips. The second week was centered on the creation of draft research proposals and presenting them to the class as though applying for grant money.
During this program I was incredibly fortunate to befriend a group of students from all over the world, and we still keep in touch today. Because we all had such strong shared interests, we spent all of our time together from the moment we met on the second day of the program. After class we would often venture into either Chicago or Evanston, and there was never a dull moment. We would normally return from the city in time to eat dinner on campus, and then we would settle in with our nightly readings for the seminar and regular summer work and do our homework together. It was the perfect balance between work and play because although we saw many great sights, we spent equally long nights in the lounge working on our homework and research proposals.
What was the most memorable moment of your summer?
I vividly remember the second day when I met my new friends, and we were still exploring Northwestern. I had never experienced so much love for a place or other people than in that moment. On the last day we had finished presenting our research proposals and I had been awarded the mock grant. It was such a fond day because learning about bioscience research helped me realize it was something I truly wanted to do, and receiving the honor of best in class validated my efforts. As we walked out of the class, my heart swelled with the realization that I was surrounded by people who shared similar aspirations in a place that opened my eyes to the possibilities of who I wanted to become.
What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs or camps?
It is easy to fall down the rabbit hole of college programs and camps. Begin by refining your search to how long you want to spend somewhere, how much you can spend, and what you want to be doing. Look at colleges that you have interest in attending. Wherever you go, be open-minded to learning new things and meeting different people. You get out of the program whatever you put in.