The Policy Institute, an intensive summer program offered at Georgetown Day School, a co-ed PK-12 school in Washington, D.C., is an example of a program that helps students prepare to achieve both college admission and success in their careers.
The Institute is a four-week summer program open to rising juniors and seniors. During the program, students gain in-depth knowledge about a particular social issue, participate in community service opportunities related to that issue, and design and implement a strategy to address the social problem in question.
Along the way, students have the opportunity to develop skills that regular classes might not develop as fully—from small things, like sending “thank you” emails and confidently introducing oneself in a group setting, to bigger skills, such as working with various stakeholders who have different priorities.
In addition, students are exposed to a social issue in their community and to the considerations involved in addressing that issue. This exposure provides new insight into possible careers and college majors, expanding how students think about college.
For example, in Summer 2016, the institute offered a an intensive in refugee resettlement.
Students met with Lutheran Social Services and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants to learn about refugee resettlement in Washington, D.C. After this initial phase, they met with a senator and the Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security to present ideas on improving the resettlement process.
Throughout the program, students gained deep knowledge on the topic, engaged in advocacy and volunteering, and developed a website to connect refugee families with other families in similar situations to help create community and share knowledge.
Programs of this type have great potential to develop skills that students will need in college and in their careers, but they can also do a great deal to engage students in learning for learning’s sake. This not only fosters an attitude towards learning that is at the core of many an independent school’s mission, but it also a value that will serve students well in college and beyond.
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