Wellesley’s Pre-College Residential Program Prepares Participants for College Success

July 22, 2015
Students from Wellesley’s Pre-College Residential Program Dine Together Outside the Lulu

For the 17 high school students in Wellesley’s pre-college residential program, the past four weeks have been enlightening, even life-changing. The program, now in its second year, gives rising juniors and seniors the opportunity to take intensive courses alongside college students and to fully experience campus life.

Participants take a mandatory writing class called Almost Touching the Skies, which examines what it means to come of age as a woman in contemporary America. They also choose an elective in drawing, English, calculus, psychology, religion, sociology, theatre studies, or women’s studies, for which they receive college credit. Classes meet for three to four hours, three times a week, and professors hold office hours to provide extra support and guidance.

The classroom experience is a key component of the program, “which helps students to expand their ways of thinking,” said Corinne Frazer, director of Summer Session, Committee for Lectures and Cultural Events, and assistant director of campus services. “Faculty members help students grow intellectually and gain the confidence needed for higher education.”

Meha Ahluwalia, who will be a high school senior in Dublin, Calif., this fall, agrees. “I’ve really enjoyed how engaging the classes are and how smart and involved my classmates are, but I think my favorite part [of the experience] is my professors,” she said. “They’ve both been really helpful after class and during office hours; I’m really appreciative of that.”

The program also provides a weekly workshop in essential college skills—such as test taking and time management—and field trips every weekend. The students took a Welcome to Boston trip the first week, visiting the state house and the Public Garden. They also saw fireworks in Newton, Mass., and visited the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; the New England Aquarium; Faneuil Hall/Quincy Market; and more.

As part of the campus experience, participants reside in Pomeroy Hall and dine in Bae Pao Lu Chow. “College is different from high school in a lot of ways, and it has been helpful having our RAs and academic peer tutor so willing to help us with the transition,” said Ahluwalia. “I’ve learned a lot about writing college-level papers … but I've also learned how to share a bathroom, be in charge of myself, and balance my own schedule.”

Comments like that are exactly what program staff hope to hear. “All of this year’s participants have enjoyed the campus experience, which will end on July 24,” said Frazer. “And all of last year’s participants reported that the program was a positive experience.”

Ahluwalia learned about the pre-college program last summer when she visited Wellesley with her father and “really loved the campus,” she said. “I would definitely encourage others to apply to this program because it gave me the chance to get a taste of college life, and it gave me the perfect chance to learn and practice good habits,” she said.

For Ahluwalia, who hopes to become a lawyer, the experience also taught her something else. She said: “I definitely plan to apply to Wellesley this fall.”