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College Prep

Since 1984, the U of C’s Chicago Academic Achievement Program has offered incoming minority students from Chicago the opportunity to attend classes before school officially starts. The soon-to-be first-years attend specially tailored daily summer classes and tutorials in science, mathematics, and the humanities, also acquiring work-study jobs. An average of 15 to 20 incoming students choose to participate in the free, seven-week program.

“While they certainly have the intelligence and talent to succeed in the College, sometimes their preparation in the public schools has not been as strong or as in-depth as is required to prepare them for optimal success in the College,” says Shawn Hawk, director of CAAP and an adviser in the College. “We view this program as part of the University’s commitment to one, Chicago-area students, and two, to students of color and maintaining diversity in the College.”

Graduate students teach the classes and tutorials, which include discussions, lectures, and non-credit but graded homework assignments, giving the students a feel for the U of C academic experience. This summer’s humanities reading list included everything from The Apology to Frank Chin’s Donald Duk. Math and science classes provided an overview of basic concepts in preparation for the October placement exams.

Lane Technical High School grad Miriam Andrews signed up for the CAAP program soon after notifying the College of her decision to enroll. “I figured it would be interesting to see how classes were,” she says. “I’d never worked during the school year, so I wanted to see how it would be to work and to take classes at the same time.” Andrews added that while she wished she’d had more free time in the summer, she could now begin the autumn quarter feeling like a U of C student.—P.J.A.

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