Scripps College Academy
Every summer, 45 high-achieving high school students from underserved communities in the Los Angeles area arrive on the Scripps College campus in Claremont, California. These rising sophomore girls are often a bit apprehensive because for many, it’s their first exposure to college. And, through this program, called the Scripps College Academy, they’ll be participating in activities that they rarely encounter in high school: attending lectures by humanities professors, reading and analyzing college-level literary text, and completing challenging writing assignments that ask them to assimilate material across disciplines and formulate their own opinions.
After this intensive two-week experience, the students—90 percent of whom will be the first in their family to attend college—leave “bursting with confidence, having been challenged, stretched, and made to realize their potential,” recalls Tony Crowley, a Scripps College humanities professor.
For the next three years, these students will continue to be part of the free, year-round Academy program. They will engage with Scripps College faculty and students in book clubs, field trips to local museums and cultural centers, summer intensives, and college-application workshops—all designed to prepare these young women to gain admission to, and succeed in, some of the top colleges around the country.
As the women’s college of The Claremont Colleges, Scripps College “was founded with the idea that women should have access to a high-quality education,” explains Academy Director Kelly Hewitt. “I see the Academy as an extension of the mission of the college to provide high-quality educational opportunities to students who might not normally have access to them.”
Because Scripps is a liberal arts college, it was also natural that the Academy would employ an interdisciplinary, arts- and humanities-based curriculum to develop the kind of writing and critical-thinking skills students would need to succeed in college.
“Instead of asking students to regurgitate information, we’re trying to give them an opportunity to develop their own voice, their own academic curiosity, because that’s what really empowers them to excel academically,” Hewitt says.
The Scripps College Academy has achieved striking results. One hundred percent of recent graduates have enrolled in college, with half attending private colleges, including Scripps, Brown, Georgetown, Smith, and Yale.
Participants’ intellectual horizons are expanded, their moral perceptions are sharpened, and their social awareness is focused. They become aware of themselves as young women who can shape their own lives and the lives of those around them. What greater educational achievement could there be?Tony Crowley Humanities Professor, Scripps College