arrow grid linear view icon
College of Arts and Sciences

Prefreshmen Summer Program gives students opportunity to build skills for college

By: Anna Carmichael
A&S Communications
July 20, 2016

Most students head to college at the end of August, however students participating in the Prefreshmen Summer Program (PSP) at Cornell arrived June 21 and will spend seven weeks on campus. PSP is a unique program that seeks to help students prepare and adjust to the challenges that often accompany the first year of college.

PSP participants take two or three classes in a variety of subjects like global Chinese history, government, chemistry and statistics, as well as a college achievement course, which teaches skills such as scheduling and time management.

Classes are assigned to the participants based upon their intended major and the information that they put on their college applications.

“This summer, I’ve learned how to enjoy the art of learning,” explained Etinosa Osagie ’20. “Coming into the biology program, I’ve learned that the grade isn’t the most important thing about learning … It’s learning how to learn.”

Sarah Griffiths ’20 said, “It’s a lot of work nightly, and it’s a lot to handle at times, but it teaches us to prioritize and develop good habits.”

“I like the achievement course because we learn good tips,” Steve Tarcan ’20 said. “It’s a good introduction to what college will be like.”

Participants also must attend weekly seminars, which help the prefreshmen learn more about Cornell.

“We’ve learned about the resources available to us,” Betty Wang ’20 said. “[Cornell] cares a lot, and I feel better prepared because I know how to ask for help if I need it.”

Students gather for dinner each Wednesday at 5 p.m. in a dining room in the Keeton House dining hall, where they have the chance to eat together and listen to professors speak about their own life experiences.

On July 6, Jonathan Lunine, the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences and director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, and Katherine Kinzler, an associate professor of psychology, were the featured speakers.

Lunine showed the students videos of NASA’s mission, Juno, which recently went into Pluto’s orbit on July 4th, and spoke of the joy of science.

Kinzler spoke of her journey to becoming a professor. She explained that she thought she'd major in chemistry in college, then fell in love with psychology and majored in cognitive science. Kinzler began working in a lab as an undergraduate and encouraged the students to take advantage of the research opportunities at Cornell.

“Cornell is really great at getting students involved with research,” Kinzler said.

PSP includes about 180 students, 49 of which are future Arts & Sciences students, so they get the chance to meet and build a community with one another through classes, studying, these weekly dinners and spending time with each other outside of class.

“Getting to know campus is really helpful, and you get to know a lot of people through PSP. It’s cool because I have a group of friends before even entering college,” Tarcan said.

When the students aren’t studying, PSP plans events like barbecues and movie nights. The participants also play a lot of volleyball, and have found the much-loved Collegetown Bagels. 

“PSP is really awesome. I’m glad I got the opportunity to come,” Raven Schwam-Curtis ’20 said. 

Anna Carmichael is a communications assistant for the College of Arts and Sciences.