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The University of Kansas
Math and Science Center

Math and Science Center Summer Institute paves way to college for students

September 14, 2007, Published in Inside Scoop- KU School of Education Newsletter

The road to college can be filled with many potholes that can make it extremely difficult for students to reach the ivory tower. This is especially true for students who are the first in their families to attend college and students from low socioeconomic backgrounds because they face many more hurdles than students from affluent and privileged backgrounds. The barriers that deprived students face include having limited access to information on college and financial aid and attending schools with inadequate resources –making them less academically prepared to handle college work.

For the past twelve summers, the Math and Science Center has held a six-week academic residential Summer Institute on the KU campus for students from disadvantaged backgrounds in an attempt to level the playing field. Students who participate in the Summer Institute take core courses in math, science, English, foreign language and an elective class while residing in a residence hall. Taking the core courses allows students to retain some of the materials they learned during the academic year while preparing them for the next academic year and strengthen and sharpen their academic and study skills for success in high school and college. Along with taking courses, students also learn and prepare for the college admissions process by visiting local colleges such as the University of Missouri—Columbia, drafting their college essay and preparing and practicing for the ACT exam. Residing on a college campus allows students to become familiar with and gain knowledge of the many resources that are available to help them succeed. In essence, the residential component of the Summer Institute allows students to learn to navigate and balance college life.

Although the Summer Institute is academically demanding and rigorous to reflect the college environment, students are offered a variety of outlets in the form of field trips to the movies, ice skating and bowling. The culminating event of the Summer Institute is an awards banquet where students’ parents are invited to celebrate and honor the students’ achievements during the Summer Institute.