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UIndy’s ‘Summer Success Camp’ helps non-traditional students discover college is achievable

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Posted at 8:12 PM, Jun 20, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — It used to be a routine pattern for young Hoosiers to go to high school then complete post-secondary education at college.

However, these days, many colleges are struggling with enrollment as personal or financial reasons keep people from seeking a higher education.

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The Summer Success Camp through the University of Indianapolis aims to help non-traditional students realize college can be an option for them.

The program partners with Perry Township and aims to get students involved who receive free and reduced lunches, are 21st Century Scholars, or are potential first generation college students.

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“We are focused on getting students that are in UIndy’s backyard who might not even know we exist,” Rebecca Franks, Director of Summer Success Camp, said. “We’re not a name that’s as big as others in our state. We call ourselves the hidden gem.”

Those enrolled in the program spend a week on the university’s campus living as a college student.

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They sleep in the dorm rooms, eat at the dining hall and each morning is spent exploring various educational fields through interactive lessons.

Students also take trips to actual businesses to see how a college degree could get them started in a career.

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“They’re able to see what college is like if they don’t have someone in their family that can share those experiences with them,” Franks said. “If they do, they can start to test the waters to see if it’s right for them.”

But even if they don’t end up choosing college, there are huge benefits to the program.

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“I think the biggest misconception is that you go to college only for a degree and job. If you taper that down to just that item, that is a fair ‘is it worth it?’” Franks said. “But the things we miss when we only ask that single question is the network, the relationships, the personal development and human skills that you learn in college.”

This is the second year of the Summer Success Camp.

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The camp is free thanks to funding from the Lilly Endowment. In fact, the program actually pays students who attend $200.