Teens test out college life in Wake Forest summer programs


  • Summer programs meet a growing desire among high school juniors and seniors for a taste of the college experience.
  • Two of Wake Forest's most popular academic summer programs hosted nearly 650 high school students this year.
  • To make programs accessible to students from diverse socio-economic backgrounds, 50% of attendees in LENS were scholarship recipients & 25% in Summer Immersion received financial aid.
  • Participants interested in Wake Forest as a college option can schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor while they are on campus.

Two of Wake Forest University’s most popular academic summer programs have hosted nearly 650 high school students this year — meeting a growing desire among  high school juniors and seniors for a taste of the college experience.

A Liberal Arts Approach to Problem-Solving

Participants in LENS, a three-week residential program on Wake Forest’s Reynolda Campus, had the chance to experience roommates, campus dining and social activities while also examining some of the community’s most pressing challenges through inter-disciplinary lenses. The teens worked in teams to develop solutions to particular challenges related either to global sustainability or identity and intercultural communications. Both options offered classroom and hands-on learning.

Over the seven years the LENS program has been welcoming high schoolers, numbers have grown from 27 students in 2010 to 51 in 2014 to 72 this year and include quite a few who will be first-generation college students when they arrive on their campuses as freshmen.

“With many first-generation college students, we want to make sure that when they get to campus, they know what resources are available to them so they have a better chance at success.” Michelle Klosterman, director of Global Pre-College Programs

To make programs like these accessible to interested high schoolers from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, scholarships and financial aid are available to students. Fifty percent of LENS attendees were scholarship recipients.

As part of the LENS experience, students receive general information on financial aid and campus life resources. Those who are considering Wake Forest as a possible college choice can schedule a meeting with an admissions counselor while they are on campus.

A Career Deep Dive

The Wake Forest Charlotte Center offers one-week career exploration experiences. Last summer, the first year for these programs, four Summer Immersion Program experiences were based in Charlotte and 250 students participated. This year, the University offered six programs in Charlotte and two at Wake Forest University with 570 high schoolers participating.

The Reynolda Campus programs, which focus on career exploration in medicine and business, are residential programs offering classroom and hands-on learning combined with all the experiences that come from living and studying on campus.

Students interested in medical careers visited Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center and practiced taking blood pressure, listening to the heart, working in a suture lab, conducting an ultrasound, analyzing a cadaver and more.

Along with classroom discussions with speakers from local and regional businesses, students interested in pursuing business careers visited the apparel company VF Corporation to meet with the leadership team to discuss branding strategy. They also visited legwear manufacturer Renfro Corporation where they made their own socks.

“As college degrees become all the more crucial, many fine students will never get there. Good for programs like one at Wake Forest University that can help reverse that trend.” The Winston-Salem Journal

In addition to medicine and business in Winston-Salem, the programs offered in Charlotte included concentrations in law, leadership, sports marketing and technology. The Charlotte programs are nonresidential.

Twenty-five percent of Summer Immersion students received some form of financial aid.

Donovan Livingston, whose Harvard Graduate School of Education Student Speech went viral (see video below), helped mentor students in the Summer Immersion Program.

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