Young Scholars Program:
Providing pathways to a degree

two Ohio State students celebreate their graduation

For many high school students who come from families without a college-going tradition, a university degree can be a distant dream, something that other students aspire to. Often these students don't understand their options regarding higher education. They may believe that they wouldn’t fit in at a university. They may be apprehensive about the cost. They may be overwhelmed by the application process and financial aid forms. Their parents may support their dream or want them to earn money immediately after graduation.

But for the past 28 years, students such as these have found a pathway to a college degree. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion Young Scholars Program (YSP) has worked with academically-talented first generation middle and high school students from Ohio nine largest urban school districts – Akron, Canton, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Lorain, Toledo and Youngstown – to prepare them for college success, helping its Scholars understand their options, overcome their fears, and find a sense of belonging.

Created in 1988, YSP offers pre-collegiate Young Scholars in grades 8-12 year-round comprehensive academic, career, and personal development programs in partnership with school district administrators and staff; Ohio State faculty, staff, students, and alumni; and community and corporate partners. Once selected into the program, Scholars complete a college preparatory curriculum in middle and high school, giving them a solid foundation for college. Upon graduating from high school, Scholars in good standing receive an appropriate financial aid package to attend The Ohio State University.

To help assure they are prepared for the next step in their academic journey, Young Scholars attend three summer programs that allow them to spend a total of five weeks on Ohio State’s campus before arriving as incoming freshmen. Each program offers a different perspective and experience as Scholars gain an understanding of the requirements and expectations for college students as well as the attitudes and behaviors that will contribute to their achievements at Ohio State.

Junior Summer Institute
The Junior Summer Institute offers rising high school juniors Young Scholars a one-week, residential experience on the Ohio State campus that looks at social justice issues. In 2016, 120 Young Scholars participated, exploring education, homelessness, LGBTQ topics, health disparities, and human trafficking. For four days, Scholars examined the topic of their choice to understand its place in society, why it is a social issue, and their own thoughts about the issue. On the fifth day, Scholars had a Day of Service for their neighbors and communities. The final day was spent reflecting on their service to discover how Scholars can expand their roles as positive change agents.

Samuel DuBois Cook Summer Academy
For one week, rising high school seniors come to Ohio State to prepare for their application to the university. While on campus, Young Scholars attend information sessions on different majors, and gather skills in writing essays for Admissions, Honors and Scholars, and the Learning Communities at Ohio State. Scholars also take an early math placement test to help assess their math needs.

Summer Bridge Experience
During this three-week residential program, entering Ohio State freshman focus on making a smooth academic and social transition from high school to college. Based on their majors, students take academic core classes in economics, physics, psychology and statistics; all students take English and mathematics classes. They also work with Ohio State’s Wellness Center and Recreational Sports. At the end of the three weeks, participants who had taken AP classes or had transfer credit for their first or second English class presented research posters. Over 20 Scholars participated, presenting on such topics as child marriage, human trafficking and disposable plastic.

First-generation students such as the Young Scholars need different support from those students whose parents have earned a degree. They need to feel as if they belong and that they have the tools – and wherewithal – to complete their college degrees. With the help of the Young Scholars Program, Young Scholars not only succeed but they thrive.