This summer, 19 first-year students were given the opportunity to test the waters of college life with a new program at The College of Wooster.

Emerging College Scholars is an initiative spearheaded by the Dean of Students and Faculty to bring new students from diverse social and cultural backgrounds onto the campus early and allow them to experience what it is like to live, learn, work and even socialize at Wooster.

The program, supported by the Hewlett-Mellon Presidential Discretionary Fund for Institutional Renewal, was intended to facilitate the transition from high school to college for students in the belief that with support, they will be more capable of success in higher education.

The students spent two and a half weeks on campus. They lived in residence halls and ate at Lowry Dining Hall, and they also took a course titled “The Value of Higher Education.”

“What I tried to do was look at education in some other ways, to give them some context for their own experiences,” said Bill Macauley, director of the Writing Center, who co-instructed the course with Assistant Professor of Mathematics and Computer Science Jennifer Roche.

When they were not studying, the students worked at campus jobs and socialized, participating in activities like laser tag and bowling.

Both Roche and Macauley were pleased with the results. “I believe the program was executed well,” Roche said. “Students who participated were exposed to the resources that the College campus had to offer them prior to arriving in the fall. They have a dynamic and tight cohort of classmates now as well.”

Macauley concurred, “I think it was successful and students really got a sense of what it’s like here at Wooster. I think they did get a sense of the range of things they can do while they’re here and a sense of what their academic courses would be like as well.”

Whether the program will remain a part of the first-year experience at the College remains to be seen, but both instructors would like to see it again. “I would like it to remain a part of the summer program for some entering first-year students,” Roche said. “It is a valuable initiative for any small liberal arts college.”