Peter Robbins, 17, used to think all lab scientists wore white
coats. Then he spent last summer working as a young scientist at
The experience taught him that some scientists prefer casual
clothes, even blue jeans.
"It's a lot different than you see on TV," said Robbins, a
senior at Roosevelt High School.
During June, July and August, high school teens go on
attendance rolls at college campuses from Mizzou to Boston to
Robbins, and seven other juniors from St. Louis Public Schools,
participated in one of several academic experiences that bring area
high school students onto the Washington University campus in
summer to study science, architecture and business.
Here and elsewhere, students enroll to:
Earn college credits
Sharpen academic skills.
Focus on subjects of special interest.
Sample campus life.
"It's a wonderful prelude to college," said Michelle Delaney, a
counselor at Clayton High School, where the experience is popular.
No one keeps statistics. But administrators here and around the
country have to turn away would-be teens for lack of space in
competitive programs on many campuses, including Washington
University and St. Louis University.
About two-thirds of the 3,000 colleges and universities around
the United States hold summer classes for students who have already
graduated from high school.
Teens learn that no two programs are alike. Even on the same
campus, teens of all abilities have options. For example, at the
University of Missouri at St. Louis, 50 or so top students sample
science at George Engelmann Mathematics and Science Institute. At
the same time, about 90 teens work on basic skills so they can
succeed in getting into college and then graduating.
Administrators at UMSL see both programs as marketing tools
that tell prospective students what the campus can offer them.
Grade The School's Agenda
Some schools find enrolling teens during summer a way to keep
money coming when dorms and classrooms get less use. Others offer a
focused academic experience complete with final exam and term paper.
At St. Louis University, about 50 high school students from the
metro area, including St. Charles, get invited to the Academy of
Humanities. The intensive, two-week course earns them three college
At Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville, minority teens
active in high school nursing clubs come on campus to get a head
start. They study reading, writing and such nursing skills as
taking blood pressure.
One goal: recruit minority students for nursing, a career
choice where blacks are under-represented, said Ruth S. Gresley,
associate dean for academic affairs at SIU.
At Summer Focus, the program Robbins participated in at
Washington University, graduate students work individually with