Hood’s Summer Research Institute gives students the opportunity to work with faculty advisers on a research project. The projects involve laboratory or field work for eight weeks during the summer.
One SRI project this year involved building a program from the bottom up to help high school students prepare for the college admission process and find a college that is the right fit for them. Students Logan Samuels ’17 and Ryan DiGirolamo ’16 collaborated with professors Diane Oliver and Kathleen Bands to build ECAP—Excellence in College Admission Preparation.
ECAP held two bootcamps, one June 22-24 for rising seniors and one Aug. 3-5 open to all grades. The camps included work on essay writing with Jo Ellen Smallwood, the program’s senior writing consultant, and mock interviews. Students also attended informational sessions with members of Hood’s admission, athletics, financial aid and study abroad offices.
“We’re collecting data to find out what is making a difference to the kids,” said Oliver, assistant professor of psychology and ECAP co-director.
Oliver thought of the idea for the camp originally when she watched her nephew go through the college search process. He had a college adviser, and Oliver watched that experience help him own the process and gain confidence.
“I was thinking I want this for every kid,” she said. “If they had more advice and guidance, this wouldn’t be so hard. I just want to see them empowered, emerging into adulthood.”
Bands, professor of education and ECAP co-director, noticed a need for a camp of this sort during her time working with college admission and wanted to organize something at Hood.
“A college campus is an authentic place to do this,” she said. “We use the great resources that the institution provides. Hood is a gem, a jewel, and a mosaic of life.”
Samuels and DiGirolamo, both first-generation college students, got involved with this program as research associates because they believe in its cause.
“It’s a program we both wish we had,” said Samuels. “We want it to work because it’s a great program.”
Having completed the process in the past few years, Samuels and DiGirolamo can relate to the students and help them through the process by sharing personal stories and experiences.
“We cater to all students,” said DiGirolamo. “This program teaches everybody something.”
Oliver said they are trying to complement the work of the school guidance counselors, and ECAP participants leave the camp much better prepared for the college application process.
The main message of the camp is that applying to colleges is all about fit. Different students fit better in different places, and the college application process should be completed with that in mind.