Imagine being in high school and having the opportunity to really get to know the campus of one of the colleges you are interested in attending. Take a class and study with a professor. Eat in the dining hall. Live in a residence hall. Explore an academic interest. Make life-long friends from all over the world.

For three weeks each summer, that’s exactly the kind of opportunity Summer Scholars gives high school students from around the country. The non-credit program is designed as an extended-stay visit opportunity for rising high school juniors and seniors interested in the University.

University professors take time from their summer research and writing to teach courses in the program, many of which are non-credit versions of classes they teach to University students during the fall and spring semesters. This summer, Scholars will be able to enroll in one of three classes.

In science, Dr. Paula Lessem, Director of Genetics/Cell & Molecular Labs in the Biology department, will offer Biogenetics and Contemporary Issues in Biology. Students will review current research from University professors and grapple with medical, environmental and ethical issues while completing hands-on lab and field experience.

In business, Dr. Erik D. Craft, Associate Professor of Economics in the Robins School of Business, will offer Microeconomics via Classroom Experiments. Students will simulate economic theories in classroom experiments to model real-world markets and dilemmas, covering the content and experience of college-level Microeconomics.

And in political science, Dr. B. Rick Mayes, Associate Professor of Political Science in the Political Science department, will offer Global Health, Medical Humanities and Health Care. Students will examine what makes us sick and keeps us healthy while exploring what it would take to give both economic development and good health the upper hand in developing countries and the U.S.

In addition to taking classes taught by University professors, Scholars get a taste of “college life” outside of the classroom. Scholars live with a roommate in air-conditioned dorms; eat their meals at the Heilman Dining Center; work out, play games and relax at the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness; and study and access research databases and “the stacks” at Boatwright Memorial Library. The University’s beautiful campus and facilities are available and open to Scholars.

Scholars tend to create a tight-knit community of learners who study, work and play together. While Scholars (and their parents) initially focus on the academic and “college life” experience of the extended-stay visit, the impromptu community of Scholars that results from the three-week experience becomes as memorable as formal classes or outings.

“I often found that it was the impromptu trips to the river, to get food, to the malls, or just tossing a football on the green that made my summer at Richmond one of the more memorable.... These unplanned activities are the times when you can really get to know your fellow scholars and the Richmond campus,” shares Jordan Lyons, ’12, a former Summer Scholar and RA in the program.

Scholars find the taste of college life offered through the Summer Scholars Program helpful in transitioning to college after graduation from high school—and some even find their way back to the University of Richmond. Lyons, who is now in his third year at the University, says reluctance can turn to acceptance.

“Although I had some initial reservations about the college experience,” explains Lyons, “I quickly found that the University is a place that I am proud to call my home during the school year.”

And Rianna DiBartolo-Cordovano, a former Scholar and now a junior at the University, explains that the Summer Scholars experience resulted in her application to, acceptance in, and current attendance at the University of Richmond.

“I loved the University so much that I decided to apply Early Decision and I am currently in my junior year at Richmond.... Summer Scholars is an exciting program and a fantastic opportunity to meet new people, experience life on a college campus, and explore yourself and some of your interests,” says DiBartolo-Cordovano.

Parents find their kids deeply and positively affected by the program’s intellectual and social influence. They find Summer Scholars a “terrific introduction to college life” and a way to build confidence for college-level work. One parent shares, “After his experience, [our son] feels confident that he will be able to handle the workload when he starts college.”

According to DiBartolo-Cordovano’s mother, the Summer Scholars experience influenced her daughter’s decision to attend Richmond.

“The entire experience, from meeting with Richmond staff and getting settled into a dorm, to the rigorous academic courses, the access to professors, and the friendships developed, made her Summer Scholars experience extremely rewarding. The beauty of the campus, the academic excellence, the professionalism and availability of the staff, and the safe campus environment were some of the many reasons that my daughter choose to become part of the University of Richmond’s class of 2012.”

Summer Scholars begins July 9, 2011, and ends July 30. Applications are now available, and qualified students will be accepted on a “first-come, first-served” basis. For more information about the program, visit summer.richmond.edu/scholars.