Summer Academy helps students get a leg up on university life

Taylor Allen, front, of Atlanta, Ga., and Morgan Conklin of Richmond, Va., attend the first-ever Virginia Tech Summer Academy to get a head start on their college careers.

by Lois Caliri

The inaugural Virginia Tech Summer Academy was advantageous for the first-year students who shortened their summer breaks to jump-start their academic careers. The program allows students to earn course credits before the fall semester starts while learning the ropes of university life.

It also helps alleviate any jitters students may have before coming to a big campus, said Michael Herndon, director of university summer sessions.

“The small classes and academic workshops in study skills, test taking, and career development prepare students for a seamless transition from high school to the university environment,” Herndon said.

Of the students who attended the academy, 18 were enrolled in nutrition, foods, exercise, and sports classes in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. Some courses fulfill general education requirements, while others satisfy requirements for specific majors.

“I couldn’t have imagined a better introduction to campus life than the Summer Academy,” said Taylor Allen of Atlanta, Ga., who wants to double major in biochemistry and human nutrition, foods and exercise. “My advisors were always there for me and they encouraged me to push myself even harder to succeed.”

Among the college’s students were soccer players Wesley Saupe of Richmond, Va., and Deven Mason of Alburquerque, N.M. They enrolled in the academy as part of Virginia Tech’s summer conditioning program, a precursor to the fall soccer season. While working on their studies, they were also working out five days a week.

Saupe learned how to create a blog, one of the many new skills that students learned through the courses and workshops. The program also helps students by focusing on one activity at a time.

“Students do not get distracted by the rigmarole of school year obligations,” said Jay Williams, a professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise. “They don’t have to worry about juggling homework for five classes and social activities.”