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Ready for Some Pre-College Summer Fun?

High school students can explore their interests and experience campus life with Montclair State University’s weeklong Pre-College Summer Program

Posted in: Arts, Business, Communication and Media, Homepage News, Humanities and Social Sciences, Science and Technology

A student interviews a baseball player in a dugout.
High school students in Montclair’s Pre-College Summer Program on Sports Communication will learn the ins and outs of the field.

Whether you’re interested in acting, sportscasting, Wall Street, pre-medical professions or numerous other subjects, Montclair State University has you covered. Montclair is expanding its Pre-College Summer Programs for high school students, providing a dozen different hands-on opportunities in summer 2024 to learn, have fun and get a taste of campus life. The weeklong programs will run June 14-20 and let students explore their interests and potential field of study, along with related field trips.

Some popular programs, such as Film and Television Production and Summertime in the Big Apple: Exciting Excursions in New York City, are returning while new programs have been added. “This year, so far, Film and Television Production is still very popular but the most popular appears to be the new Pre-Medical Professionals program,” says Dominique Houze, senior director for Strategy and Program Development.

“I’m excited for this program because some students at that age should still be exploring, and they don’t have to know exactly what they are completely interested in yet,” Houze says. “We’re giving them a taste of living life as a college student for one week. You’re on the campus, you’re going to class, you’re meeting new people, you’re eating in the dining halls, you’re utilizing our campus resources. Our ultimate goal is to get students to really fall in love with Montclair State University early on; we have a beautiful campus, and we have amazing facilities.”

While the classes are meant to be fun and don’t have the pressure of grades and credits, they are also educational, Houze says. “They might not be receiving tests and final grades that go on to their transcript but they are learning, and it is taken seriously. It’s not just a fun time, it’s also academics and a good example of what Montclair is as an undergraduate student.”

An estimated 250 students are expected to participate in this summer’s programs, which are open to rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders. (To apply, visit the Pre-College Summer Program page.)

For faculty, Houze says the summer programs are a chance to get creative. “With the pre-college population, there’s a bigger opportunity to be innovative and take a little bit of what you currently do, mix in new strategies that you want to explore, new research that you found and create something unique for the pre-college population.”

Professor Lauren Carr is excited to teach the new Animation and VFX session this summer. She remembers fondly her own participation in a summer program, so when Keith Strudler, director of the School of Communication and Media, approached her about offering the class, she was all in.

“I did this actually when I was in high school; it’s something I’ll never forget. It was really fun. I met a lot of other kids, and I got to get the best feel for college, and I also learned about college while I was there. I learned things that I wouldn’t have found out until I got to college, so it was definitely beneficial,” Carr says.

Students in this program can look forward to everything from figure drawing to 3D sculpting and will visit Nickelodeon and other animation studios. “The classes are fun,” she says. “They’re not going to be intense and stressful. It’s kind of a laid back and collaborative atmosphere, so it should be nice.”

Justice Studies Associate Professor Daniela Peterka-Benton, who is co-leading Law and Order: Understanding America’s Criminal Justice System, with Professor Gabriel Rubin, says she thinks summer programs expand students’ vision of the future. “It’s a great opportunity. It’s hard sometimes for [high schoolers] to see what the world has to offer. So, any opportunity to try out certain areas and see if this is actually something that really interests them, I think is great. I’m really, really happy Montclair is offering all these programs now.”

Also new this summer are two programs taking place in July:

  • The Montclair Broadway Institute, where talented Montclair students will be immersed in all things Broadway for three days, July 22-24.
  • The Study Abroad in Sicily, Italy program, open to high school students 16 or older. Led by History Professor Dawn Marie Hayes, who runs a similar program for college students, the 10-day excursion offers students an opportunity to earn three history credits. The program runs July 19-30.
Students walk across a street in New York City.
History Department Chair Jeff Strickland, far left, leads students as they cross the streets of New York City to learn about the city’s art, architecture and history in 2023.

The Pre-College 2024 Summer Programs include:

Animation and VFX – Students will delve into the fundamentals of animation and visual effects, work in the University’s state-of-the-art computer labs, where they will be introduced to 3D modeling, 3D Animation and other animation tools. The program also includes a day trip to New York City for an exclusive tour of cutting-edge visual effects studios.

Business Entrepreneurship and Innovation – This program is for students who are business-minded or dream of being their own boss as entrepreneurs. They will explore tech and business trends, take a field trip to Wall Street and to meet with business leaders.

Computer Science – Students will experience the work of a threat intelligence analyst through a fun, gamified, hands-on approach to learning about cybersecurity and gain practical knowledge about becoming a Security Operations Center Analyst, a Threat Hunter, an Incident Responder and a Cyber Intelligence Analyst.

Law and Order: Understanding America’s Criminal Justice System – Students will explore the many professions and aspects of law and order and take a field trip to a courtroom. From learning how the criminal mind works to role playing as a lawyer or judge, they will expand their knowledge about policing, crime scene analysis and community justice.

Film and Television Production – Students will produce, direct and edit a project. In addition to working with actors, they’ll learn about lighting, working on a film set and visit a film or television studio, where they will meet with working professionals and learn more about careers in the film and television industry.

Model United Nations – Students will play United Nations diplomats, while learning to draft resolutions, deliver statements and negotiate. Led by Professor Alfredo Toro Carnevali, a former UN Ambassador, the students will put to use a variety of foreign policy tools and visit the UN in New York.

Pre-medical Professions – Aspiring medical professionals will learn about anatomy and many areas of the medical profession, putting their newly gained knowledge to the test in a tournament. They will also receive training in CPR, the use of defibrillators and how to stop bleeding and will interact with medical professionals.

Social Media Success: Influencing, Marketing and Creative Strategy – Students will be immersed in the world of social media, working with influencers and brands, and ultimately create a social media campaign. A field trip to a New York City communications agency is planned.

Sports Communication – Budding sports journalists and commentators will get hands-on experience by producing content using the University’s state-of-the-art digital studios and equipment. Students will hone their sports writing skills across multimedia formats and take a field trip to a sporting event in the New York City area.

Summertime in the Big Apple: Exciting Excursions in New York City – Students will travel to Manhattan daily to learn about the city’s history, architecture, culture and ethnic cuisine. They will also attend Hamilton on Broadway and produce photo essays of their experiences.

The Craft of Acting – Aspiring actors will learn to listen and react moment to moment to a dramatic text, train for voice work and ultimately discover their natural voice and physical expression. A field trip to see Harry Potter, with Montclair alum Kira Jordan, BFA Acting ’xx, on Broadway show is also on tap.

Wall Street and the Investment Experience – Students interested in finance will explore it all with a walking tour of Wall Street and the Federal Reserve Bank in New York City. Program Director Christopher Russomanno says “there’s a lot of  misinformation” about Wall Street, so this program will help demystify it. Students will learn some financial math, how the industry works and even examine how Wall Street is portrayed in movies.

For more information and to apply for summer 2024, visit the Pre-College Summer Program page.

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Story by Staff Writer Sylvia A. Martinez. Photos by University Photographer Mike Peters.