Northeastern’s Summer Educational Expedition

A student concentrates on an assignment in the Game Design App Lab class in Snell Library. Photo by Travis Farrenkopf.

“People rarely succeed unless they have fun in what they are doing.” So said Dale Carnegie, the writer, lecturer, and developer of famous courses known for helping people become enthusiastic about their futures.

His remark rings true for people of all ages and all walks of life, including high school students testing the waters to find out which educational and career path can lead to success and also let them pursue their personal passions.

That’s what the Northeastern Summer Programs for High School Students are all about. The two-, three-, four- and six-week programs are designed to prepare rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors from around the world for the academic, social, and campus experiences of college. From entrepreneurship to sports leadership to information technology, students get an inside look at majors in thriving industries. They can take courses either for credit or noncredit, giving them the chance to get a head start on college classes or build upon their high school curriculum.

Hayden Spitz, 18, applied to Northeastern’s Summer Programs because he thought it would bolster his college application and give him a taste of college life. “The classes were awesome, I learned so much, and I met some really great people,” he says.

His teacher for his App Lab seminar was Mark Sivak, and Spitz appreciated his ability to foster team work and the sense of excitement he brought to discussions. “He was able to relate to us on a different level,” he says. “The class was on video games, which we all loved and were all hyped up about. He told us about what he played and was able to connect with us, which was really cool.”

In this class, Sivak had some students try their hand at creating highly relevant, usable products, like a scheduling app for college students and games for mobile devices (This serves as an added bonus for students, as they leave his class with work they can add to their portfolios). For Sivak, it’s rewarding to see students gain experiences they can apply in both college and in future jobs while experimenting with possibilities. He encourages students to try out any number of careers. “Before you take the big dive, why not try it once?” he says.

Experimentation and exploration are big parts of the Summer Programs. Students have the freedom to ask themselves: Do I want  to be a programmer or a graphic designer? What about Interface design? Or be in business? “It also ignites students’ enthusiasm and builds their confidence,” says Sivak. “Even if they decide to go to school for something different, maybe they’ll want to pursue their interest on the side.”

Nawal Wasif, who applied to the Summer Programs when she was a sophomore, was interested in exploring two disparate interests, so she signed up for College Biology and Creative Writing. She learned alongside a diverse group of students during in-person and online portions of the class from around the world. “The most astonishing thing was that kids were attending as far away as China,” she says. “I was excited to meet all these nice, educated students. My favorite part was discovering an environment where studying can be fun. I am super excited to come back for another summer.”

Learning alongside other college-oriented students was also something Spitz appreciated about his time at Northeastern. With their help, he learned a valuable lesson he could apply to his first year at college: time management. “It’s so different from being in high school because you’re not being told to go do homework,” he says. “You’re there to learn and figure it out for yourself. You can be up till 1 a.m. hanging out with friends—you just have to make sure you get your work done.”

This summer, Northeastern is offering more opportunities. A new fully online six-week program allows qualified students to complete courses like College Algebra, Elements of College Writing, and Dynamics of Business online, from anywhere. Like its on-campus counterparts, online courses focus on helping students understand how academic topics are used in real-world applications. And they’re just as exciting, embodying that Carnegie-approved element of fun.

As Wasif says, “The Summer Programs well prepared me for college and put me in the college mindset. I used to think that college would be the hardest four years of my life to get through. Northeastern taught me that college is just as fun as high school—maybe even more.”

Read another story about the Summer Programs, its faculty and offerings.

Important Dates:

May 16, 2014:  Application Deadline for International Students Currently in the U.S.

May 16, 2014:  Application Deadline for U.S. Citizens and Permanent Residents

June 29, 2014:  On-Campus Program Begins

June 30, 2014:  Online Program Begins