The Office of Special Programs-College Prep (OSP) and Collegiate Scholars Program (CSP) are two college readiness programs operating under the Office of Civic Engagement at the University of Chicago. Both programs have supported Chicago-area high schoolers this summer as they continue to prepare for college and all that comes with it. In addition to classes and activities for their participants on the UChicago campus, OSP and CSP organized some special events.
“During the academic year, scholars participate in college preparatory workshops as well as enrichment offerings that focus on leadership, civic engagement, and arts and culture; all of which are outside of their “everyday” high school curriculum,” said Abel Ochoa. “We supplement that during the summer months when scholars get a taste of college and develop analytic, writing, and communication skills required in a top-tier academic environment.”
In July, students in both programs and across the city attended the 2018 Kovler Hawkins Career Conference, hosted by the OSP. It was attended by more than 200 students, largely from the mid-South Side. This conference provided opportunities for high school students to explore career options through interactive panels and career-focused learning activities with professionals from an array of industries. Students were able to network with conference attendees and panelists, as well as collect college admissions materials.
“Considering how diverse and competitive the job market has become, it’s never too early to start to think about careers,” explained Dovetta McKee, director of the Office of Special Programs. “Thinking of possible careers helps to establish the connection to academic coursework and why students should work hard do well. It also gives students an idea of the kind of job opportunities are available once it’s time to make a decision.”
KICP Summer Institute
At the end of July, OSP students in the University of Chicago Science Initiative spent a week at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) Summer Institute, an annual activity that allows students to meet and work with astronomers and physicists, handle high-tech instruments, and explore our universe through the Space Explorers program, which connects local, underrepresented minority students with new science experiences and opportunities, giving them the chance to understand the research process and increase math and science skills and knowledge. This year’s theme was “City of Tomorrow.” Working in teams, the students designed future cities for extraterrestrial systems.
CSP students participated in the Chicago-wide Scholars College Fair in July. This event was organized in part by CSP, in partnership with Chicago Scholars and Illinois Tech Global Leaders. Students were able to attend a robust college fair with more than 150 admissions representatives from all over the country, thanks to a kind donation of space from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Prior to the conference, CSP scholars spent the week learning some tips and tricks to get the most out of the college fair, further preparing them for college applications.
CSP students also participated in a week-long East Coast college tour, visiting Case Western Reserve, Syracuse University, Amherst College, Harvard University, Boston College, Yale University, Columbia University, University of Pennsylvania, and Carnegie Mellon. Students were able to learn more about these prestigious universities, including their admissions processes and what they might expect from daily campus life. This opportunity allows students to find the best possible fit for their college experience.
OSP and CSP are part of UChicago Promise, the University’s multipronged initiative designed to help students and families throughout the city of Chicago gain admission to, pay for, and thrive in college. Since 1969, OSP has operated a four-year program of supports and resources that have helped thousands of potentially first-generation college students prepare for and complete high school and higher education. CSP, established 15 years ago, is a three-year program that prepares talented Chicago Public Schools students in grades 10-12 for admission and success at the selective and highly selective colleges and universities.
By Emily Mikhail