While most high school students lounge around pools or sunbathe at the beach during the summer, others are getting a head start in higher education with the Summer Scholars program here at Lipscomb University.
“Summer Scholars is an academic program for rising seniors,” Summer Scholars coordinator Johnathan Akin said. “They come here for 10 days and take a college class, and they were able to choose from six different courses.
"Participants can choose to take Fundamentals of Biology, Introduction to Psychology, Foundations of Business: A Christian Perspective, Introduction to Communication or A Study of Nashville: Interpreting Meaning from the Built Environment and Fundamentals of Photography.”
Summer Scholars earn three hours of college credit and are able to experience a slice of college life before they begin their college career.
“I think it’s probably one of the most academically challenging programs that Lipscomb offers but it’s also one of the most fun programs,” Akin said. “These students are all honor students. The average for this year’s class is a 27 for the ACT and around a 3.9 high school GPA. They are really bright students but they are also a lot of fun.”
It’s not all work and no play throughout the ten-day course. The 44 students from 17 states are bombarded with fun activities, as well as off-campus field trips to several organizations. Students attend class from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., but the rest of the time is spent out and about.
Activities include team building on the ropes courses at Deer Run Retreat, miniature golf, a scavenger hunt around downtown Nashville, dinner at business professor Joe Ivey’s house, a movie night and a visit to the Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art.
Nashville native Ellison Gossett enjoyed the benefits of Summer Scholars.
“I knew I wanted to go to college but wasn’t sure if I was ready,” Gossett said. “So this is a great way to prepare me for college so that it’s not this whole new phenomenon and it’s not as scary.”
For Semayi Mengistu being able to experience college life early is a plus.
“I was surprised when I came here,” the Jackson, Tenn., native said. “I didn’t really know much about Lipscomb before I came. It’s a really nice campus and the people here are different, and different is a good thing in my case.”
Classes are definitely different from normal college classes. Students get to go out into the community and meet with different organizations, providing a very hands-on and experiential approach to education.
Alex Anderson, a Lipscomb sophomore English and psychology major from Franklin, Tenn., and former Summer Scholar, is a counselor for this year’s program.
“It’s great to spend so much time with the kids,” Anderson said, “especially here at Lipscomb where we put a spiritual emphasis on everything and they can learn to be better brothers and sisters in Christ with each other.
“As a counselor, I get to see them form relationships,” Anderson said, “and they learn a lot about the versions of themselves that they could be in college. They can determine how they’re going to prioritize their social life and their classes.”
The program began in the summer of 2009 with 18 students. Tuition is fully funded by Lipscomb scholarships, and students pay for housing, food and activities.