Blog: Bright Ideas

How College Prep Summer Camp Can Start Young and Be Rooted in Fun

What does college and career readiness look like in the 21st century? With the wide range of college majors and career programs available, readiness is not a narrowly defined set of content standards. The reality is that the new emphasis on college and career readiness has kids focused on college prep from a much earlier age and with a much broader perspective. College prep appropriately starts in elementary and middle school when kids begin developing the mindsets and skills that will benefit them as they work their way through high school and prepare for college. Summer camps can play a significant role in preparing kids for these formidable challenges by providing early college prep activities that build crucial skills while feeling like engaging, enjoyable summer fun.

What Does College Prep Look Like?

College prep looks a lot different in our information age. Sure, there is core content to master, but the emphasis is on building strategic skills: cognitive strategies, learning strategies, collaborative strategies, communication strategies, etc. There is also a focus on resilience, confidence and comfort with taking risks. P21®: the Partnership for 21st Century Learning has worked with teachers, parents, education experts, business leaders and government policymakers to establish a Framework for 21st Century Learning. Here are the 21st-century student outcomes deemed essential by P21®: 

  • Core Content Knowledge — A good basic knowledge of core content, including English Language Arts, world languages, math, science, the arts and social studies is still necessary. But P21 seeks to elevate core knowledge by emphasizing project-based learning that incorporates several interdisciplinary themes considered important for 21st-century citizens: global awareness, civic, environmental and health literacy, as well as business, financial, economic and entrepreneurial literacy. 
  • Learning and Innovation Skills — The 4 Cs are skills that prepare kids for increasingly complex living and work environments. These are creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Access to these skills allows kids to solve problems creatively using reasoning and systematic thinking, both independently and as part of a team.
  • Information, Media and Tech Skills — To learn efficiently, 21st-century kids must be proficient at finding and using information and media effectively. They must develop comfort with and knowledge of rapidly evolving technology.
  • Life and Career Skills — These life skills parallel the competencies employers are seeking in qualified candidates. They are flexibility and adaptability, initiative and self-direction, social and cross-cultural skills, productivity and accountability, and leadership and responsibility. Developing these skills helps create self-directed, lifelong learners capable of following their interests and achieving their goals. 

Summer Camps @ The Tech campers work in lab.

How Summer Camps Figure Into College Prep

How can parents support kids in developing the outcomes that will prepare them for college and careers? Curiosity is a powerful motivator for learning. A curious brain is primed and ready to learn. By encouraging kids’ interests, parents can help to foster curiosity and put kids in a learning frame of mind. This can be accomplished by helping kids explore their interests and realize their passions through independent learning projects, extracurricular activities and innovative summer camps.

Rather than helping pre-college kids develop specific academic or study skills, today's college prep summer camps involve broader mindsets and cross-disciplinary skills. Through a fun and collaborative project-based approach, Camp Galileo for pre-K through 5th grade and Galileo Summer Quest for older kids in 4th through 8th grades help campers develop the more diverse, cross-disciplinary skills that enhance core content knowledge and enable higher order thinking. Each week-long session is based on the Galileo Innovation Approach®, also known as the GIA. The GIA provides a framework that nurtures the innovative potential inside every Galileo camper. It introduces kids to knowledge that prompts creative thinking, fosters the development of an Innovator’s Mindset and provides practice with a process for bringing great ideas to prototype. In addition, Galileo camps help kids learn to use the latest technologies for learning.

Emphasizing the Fun in College Prep

By targeting the innate curiosity and creativity kids are born with, we can start preparing them for college and careers quite early. Through fun and engaging themes and majors, summer camp programs can capture kids’ imaginations and empower them to develop the qualities and characteristics that will prepare them to succeed in their future educational and career endeavors. With the wide range of college majors and career programs available, preparations cannot be narrow or one-size-fits-all. Instead, they must involve empowering and helping kids to become motivated, self-directed learners capable of excelling in 21st-century learning and working environments.

Investigate the college prep summer camp options in your area: San Francisco Bay Area, Southern California, and Chicagoland. Sign up for our mailing list to keep up-to-date on our camp happenings, innovation resources, and important registration information for next summer.