Continuing a summer tradition, a group of southern New Jersey teenagers will prepare for the rigors of college while living and studying at Rutgers University–Camden.Forty rising 12th-grade students will participate in an intensive three-week program, which begins on Monday, July 12, and concludes with a closing ceremony on Friday, July 31.
Now in its fifth year, the Rutgers–Camden Aim High Academy prepares and motivates rising high-school seniors to attend and succeed in college by providing an early introduction to a Rutgers learning and living environment. Participants will live in the Rutgers–Camden housing complex; attend college-level courses; engage in SAT preparation workshops; and create civic-engagement plans that address social issues in their communities or schools.
Led by the Rutgers–Camden Community Leadership Center, this “pre-college boot camp” delivers a unique living and learning experience that teaches students such vital life skills as compatibility, tolerance, self-discipline, and responsibility. The program, which includes meals, is offered at no cost to the students.
The high-school students will interact with current Rutgers students, who will share their personal experiences and serve as mentors and counselors throughout the program. Rutgers–Camden professors also will work to prepare the South Jersey students for college.
“Many children from across southern New Jersey do not have the chance to truly understand the opportunities and the rigors of a college experience,” explains Gloria Bonilla-Santiago, Board of Governors Distinguished Service Professor of Public Policy and director of the Community Leadership Center, both at Rutgers–Camden. “Due to a simple lack of awareness, many of these students lose the motivation to graduate high school, or their families miss critical enrollment and financial-aid opportunities.”
According to Bonilla-Santiago, the goal of the Rutgers–Camden Aim High Academy is to increase the rate of high-school graduation and post-secondary education among New Jersey residents. The initiative also aims to increase college-readiness skills, such as study habits, test-taking skills, and time-management abilities. Aim High participants will continue to receive support from Rutgers–Camden during the academic year as they complete the various requirements that are necessary to pursue a higher degree.“A program such as the Aim High Academy could be a catalyst for transforming the lives of these teenagers, all of whom are first-generation college students, says Bonilla-Santiago, founder of the LEAP Academy University Charter Schools in Camden.
During the three-week period, participating students will focus on academics by attending Rutgers courses in algebra and writing, as well as meeting with Rutgers professors and invited experts. Upon completion of the program, students will test their new skills by taking a Rutgers-level mathematics placement test.
Students also will enhance their college and career awareness through a series of workshops, and will engage in activities designed to build their knowledge and confidence. On Fridays, the students will visit colleges and universities throughout the Delaware Valley and in Washington, D.C.
Materials for the Rutgers–Camden Aim High Academy have been developed under the College Access Challenge Grant from the United States Department of Education (USDOE). Those contents will not necessarily represent the policy of the USDOE. Endorsement by the federal government should not be assumed.