The League’s pre-university program brought positive experiences, increased enrollment

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Ethan Davis was months away from traveling to Syracuse for the pre-college program on the Syracuse University campus when the university moved the program to a virtual format due to the pandemic.

Davis, now a freshman in drama at SU, participated in the musical theater program in the summer semester during his freshman year of high school in 2020. Although Davis was initially discouraged that the In-person aspect of the program was canceled, he still believes it had a positive experience, he said.

The pandemic has forced SU campus pre-university program, which gives high school students the option of taking courses in college with either academic credit or no credit to uncover potential majors in college, to operate virtually for both summer 2020 and 2021.

In 2020, the majority of the country’s pre-college programs were operating virtually, said Chris Cofer, executive director of the SU’s Office of Pre-College Programs. It became clear in December 2020 that operating in person during the summer of 2021 was still not possible, Cofer said.


“We made the decision (to cancel the program) very cautiously and given the planned schedule for the vaccine distribution (to adolescents) at that time,” Cofer said.

First-year musical theater major Maggie Stephens also participated in the pre-college program in the summer of 2020. She said she struggled to form friendships virtually, but was happy with it. the academic aspect of the program.

“I loved the lessons and meeting the teachers,” Stephens said. “It’s a huge reason why I’m currently a student at Syracuse… It was nice to be able to get a very in-depth education crammed into that three week period, but also from my home.”

Likewise, Davis said he learned a lot throughout the program, although he said his program was not intended for the virtual format.

“The way they set it up was always very informative for me and my learning,” Davis said. It was a little disappointing because the theater is such an in-person activity.

However, moving the program to an online setting has allowed it to become accessible to more students around the world, Cofer said. Enrollment has grown from 717 students during the in-person version of the program in 2019 to 832 students in 2020 and 835 in 2021 during the distance versions of the program.

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While the operation of the pre-college program virtually allows for greater accessibility, it has had a negative impact on the social and independent aspects of student experiences, Cofer said.

“Providing high school students with a full residential experience does a lot for their personal development,” Cofer said. “The online social and recreational activities we have offered for them, while of high quality, cannot replace the experience of living on campus away from home and parents. “

Stephens only found out about the program after the in-person game was canceled, so she never expected to attend it virtually. Being from Utica, New York, she was already familiar with the SU campus and community.

“For the students, (a) a big part of the reason they went to summer college was to get a feel for the campus and whether or not they want to live there for four years. (Being virtual) could have been a problem, but I already knew I liked the campus, ”Stephens said.

The pre-college program is designed to give high school students an overview of what college is all about. While Stephens said the virtual program lacked some of the typical aspects of college face-to-face, it still helped her prepare for college life.

“If I had been in person… it would have given me a better understanding (college), because I would have lived in a dormitory, I would have had to find a way to get to class,” Stephens said. “My first days here were a challenge that I had to overcome. “


Contact Shantel: [email protected] | @ shantelguzman2

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