Students in automotive center at The Ohio State University (photo courtesy of Ohio Supercomputer Center)
Ohio Life

Ohio Summer Programs Offer a Preview of Campus Living

Organizations across Ohio invite high school students to attend summer programs on a university campus. Each offers a glimpse of college living and a way to connect with peers. 

Residential college life is quite the departure from living at home. Suddenly, you’re responsible for everything from getting out of bed on time to remembering to do your laundry. Then there’s the challenge of living with a community of peers.

There are several summer programs in Ohio that bring together high-achieving high schoolers with shared interests and give them a taste of life on campus, providing a great way for teens to get a feel for what college living is really like.

A part of the Ohio Department of Higher Education’s Ohio Technology Consortium, the Ohio Supercomputer Center has been hosting a two-week Summer Institute for high school students at The Ohio State University since 1989.

“It had a huge impact on my personal career trajectory,” says Alan Chalker, a participant in 1991 who is now Director of Strategic Programs at the Ohio Supercomputer Center. “Now that I work here and have oversight of the summer programs, I see firsthand the impact it can have."

OSC’s supercomputers are available for use by local and national businesses that need some high-powered computing. Summer Institute attendees learn how to use them, as well as how they apply in STEM careers, while staying at Ohio State.

“For some of these kids, this is the first time they’ve been away from their parents for an extended period of time, getting a taste of what it’s like to have some independence,” Chalker says. “Students’ free time isn’t totally structured. They can do whatever they want [from a list] with a group, as long as a chaperone is with them."

There is also a roundtable conversation during which OSC brings in employees who are students at Ohio State and just two or three years older than those attending Summer Institute to answer questions.

“It usually starts with ‘How did you decide what college to attend?’ and inevitably goes to ‘What is the social life like?’ ‘Are any of you in Greek life?’ It’s exactly what they need to hear, get exposed to, while they’re thinking about college,” Chalker says.

At Miami University in Oxford, nearly 600 boys who are rising high-school seniors participate in the eight-day American Legion Buckeye Boys State, an experience in how democratic government operates, how political parties are organized and the relationship of one to the other. Students learn and work each day and gather to hear speakers in the evening.

“They learn the value of team building, which is vital to the success of students in college,” says Dan Willis, State Liaison for Buckeye Boys State. “Being on a major college campus with like-minded students gives [them] a taste of college life.”

Buckeye Girls State takes place at Bowling Green State University. Over 500 girls participate each summer, and programming includes elections of city, county and state officials, a mock court system and county system, as well as experience in debating bills and learning about the state school board and law enforcement.

“This weeklong program gives the young ladies a look at the future and dorm-style life,” says Gwenda Schroeder-Zulch, Director of Buckeye Girls State. “We have heard time after time the friends they make at Buckeye Girls State remain their friends forever, and the challenges they meet prepare them for their time in the real world.”

This story ran in the Summer-Fall 2023 issue of College 101.