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It Girls Weekend Program Expanding to Two-Week Summer College Course Experience

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An innovative Syracuse University School of Information Studies program that gives high school women an introduction to information technology studies and careers will now provide a more full-fledged version of that IT immersion through a formal two-week summer pre-college experience.

The It Girls program is shifting from a 27-hour weekend program managed entirely by the School of Information Studies (iSchool) to one of a more in-depth duration whose administrative details are being coordinated by Syracuse University’s Summer College program. It Girls will be available as a two-week academic program experience when the summer session begins June 2020.

The changeover permits iSchool faculty, staff, and students who have been hosting the weekend event in entirety to focus exclusively on creating and delivering an extended version of the program’s information technology content. University College, which oversees the Summer College program, will assume all program administrative and operational responsibilities.

The expanded model will provide a more in-depth academic experience for participants, according to Stephanie Worden, assistant director of undergraduate recruitment at the iSchool and Christopher Cofer, executive director of Summer@Syracuse.

Introduction to Information Technology

The iSchool developed the It Girls program in 2011 to create a pathway for high school girls to have an introduction to the field of Information Technology and consider it as an academic and career path. The program packed a college orientation and campus tour, faculty-led mini course, team hackathon event, inspirational speakers, and social activities into a 27-hour schedule.

Participants could become acquainted with iSchool staff, faculty, current students, and alumni who work in the field, and become informed about the School’s academic offerings. Another essential element was the connection to women who have been successful in the field, Worden said. More than 700 young women have enjoyed the experience since the program’s start.

Those elements will continue as part of the new offering, however, the longer format will permit students to experience a more realistic sense of college life while increasing their exposure to classroom activities and time dedicated to IT-focused learning. 

“University College is excited to be partnering with the iSchool to offer It Girls in Summer College,” added Cofer. “We believe in its mission and love supporting this partnership. The infrastructure Summer College has within University College is the place for the It Girls program simply because that is what we do; our sole focus year-round is designing and delivering these types of programs to high school students, so it’s a perfect match,” he said.

“It was clear that as the information industry expands and becomes more prominent in peoples’ lives, we needed to show future students an expanded experience reflective of current academic and career possibilities,” Worden said.

Summer College’s “Mini University”

Summer College at Syracuse University has hosted about 700 high school students for more than 60 pre-college credit and non-credit study programs and campus immersion experiences each season, Cofer said. On-campus and commuter student attendees originate from 35 states and 25 countries.

The pre-college program operates as a mini university, administering all essential services, including a two-day campus orientation, housing and dining services, and staffing Student Living, Health, Registration, and Academic Affairs operations.

“Summer College attendees experience significant personal growth, a heightened sense of readiness for college, more excitement about the college experience and an understanding of what it takes to succeed in college-level courses,” Cofer notes. “It’s a very positive experience for them. They say they want to stay longer and that they love Syracuse University.” 

Summer College celebrates its 60th year in 2020. Programs vary from one to six weeks in duration. Summer College offers scholarships and financial assistance. Worden said that scholarship assistance will be available to qualifying students.

It Girls will run this summer in Session I from June 27 – July 10. The program joins four other Summer College course offerings whose content is provided by the iSchool. They are:

  • Coding: Learning to Code
  • Information Reporting & Presentation: Engage, Persuade, and Succeed
  • Social Media Strategy and Analytics, and
  • Cybersecurity: Hack-a-thon Challenge.

Online applications for Summer College open December 16. More information is at summercollege.syr.edu.

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