The Colleges’ annual Summer Institute Program is giving members of the incoming Classes of 2018 an opportunity to begin their college careers a little early. Now entering its 40th year, the Institute provides 16 first-year students enrolled in the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) and the Academic Opportunity Program (AOP) the chance to take courses that will enhance their academic skills to better prepare them for success at HWS. They began on July 5.
Over the course of the five-week program, students receive more than 100 hours of course instruction from members of the Colleges’ faculty. Each student is required to take a geoscience, writing and rhetoric, and humanities course, which are credit bearing, and a non-credit study skills seminar and math review lab. Students are in class Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., and also attend a mandatory study session from 7 to 11 p.m. each school day.
Students receive instruction from HWS professors, instructors from the Center for Teaching and Learning, three writing colleagues, and four “peer mentors” who are current HEOP students at HWS.
“The goals of the program are really multi-faceted,” says Director of Academic Opportunity Programs James Burruto, who facilitates the Institute. “One is a course to bolster academic skills. The other is to gain familiarity with and develop relationships with other faculty and administrators on campus and get to know the campus and the campus services.”
In addition to the demanding academic component of the program, the Institute encompasses a “general orientation of what college is really about,” says Burruto. Faculty from global education and career services will visit classes to inform students about the opportunities they can take advantage of through their departments.
Extracurricular activities are also scheduled throughout the duration of the program to help students build relationships and become more comfortable with the campuses. Burruto says they’ve planned historical tours of Seneca Falls and Auburn, as well as a bowling trip and a trip to Darien Lake.
“The Institute helps develop a cohesive learning community among our students,” Burruto says. “And they maintain those relationships even after graduation.”
The Summer Institute has had success over the years as reflected in the 94 percent retention graduation rate for the Colleges’ HEOP and AOP programs. Burruto says the HEOP and AOP programs at HWS are some of the most successful in the state, and have been used as models for other colleges implementing the same programs.
HEOP and AOP are educational programs that were created by the New York State Department of Education in 1968 and have been at HWS since 1970. Enrollment in the Summer Institute is a requirement for all incoming HEOP and AOP students. The programs include students who are part of traditionally underrepresented populations in higher education and in need of some academic skill development before they enter the Colleges as a first year.
“It’s really a starting point for them,” Burruto says. “The summer experience is one part of what they do, but of course we are with them for four years. It’s a partnership that lasts not only for the summer, but for the entire time they’re enrolled.”