This may be their first year of workshops, or their tenth and final year of preparation. But regardless of time invested, summer is the season of new experiences and anticipation for the students and families who have committed to the long-term goal of preparing to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison with the help of the PEOPLE program.
On Monday, June 16, more than 350 middle school students from Madison, Dane County and Wisconsin Tribal school districts who are serious about earning admission into the University of Wisconsin-Madison will participate in 26 Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) summer morning workshops over the next three weeks.
On Sunday, June 22, another 500 high school students from Madison, Milwaukee and partner Tribal districts will arrive on campus to take their commitment and preparation to the next level by participating in a summer college emersion experience. They’ll live in campus dormitories with roommates, be responsible for attending daily classes and evening enrichment activities, eat in the cafeteria and taste the discipline needed to handle college and life away from their parents.
Now celebrating its 15th year of helping to prepare students for admission to and successful graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the PEOPLE Program will officially welcome its 2014 incoming freshman class on Aug. 1 at the close of the annual summer program.
The price of discipline, sacrifice and academic emersion is well worth the opportunity to win a tuition scholarship to the state’s flagship public campus and one of the best universities not only in the nation, but in the world, said the program’s Executive Director Jacqueline DeWalt. The full name of the PEOPLE program – Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence – explains what parents are choosing to add to their school-age children’s experience toolbox long before these pre-Badger scholars thoroughly understand, DeWalt added.
The Madison-based middle school summer workshops are designed to explore professional options ranging from engineering and medicine to law and business. This early exposure to potential college majors and career options is a key goal of the middle school PEOPLE program, said DeWalt, along with bring students to campus to attend them through July 3. Busy families sacrifice vacation options and some of the children’s leisure time to participate in the program, but by the time graduation rolls around – first high school and later college — students are thanking their parents profusely for insisting that they enroll in PEOPLE.
It’s a long journey of dedication from the exploring the possibility of attending college to applying for admission ranging from fun and meeting new friends to tutoring for college prep classes and tough choices on high school activities.
PEOPLE program rising ninth graders, or students who have just completed middle school, spend their afternoons for three weeks and all day for two additional weeks preparing to accelerate their success in high school with sessions in study skills, math, and science. And summer is just the beginning – students meet for tutoring and enrichment throughout the school year to accelerate their grades in core subject area, including English, history, math, science, and world language, along with building their leadership and community service profile.
For those in their final year of training – high school juniors – the 6-week summer session includes internships with campus and community partners, while learning how to complete the college application process required to be accepted at UW-Madison. Participation in the PEOPLE program is a personal choice, not a guarantee that admission will follow.
There is a misconception that PEOPLE is an entitlement program, which has never been true, DeWalt said. But there are very few pipeline programs in the nation that pair thorough pre-college preparation with the opportunity to earn a tuition scholarship to a top university as successfully as the PEOPLE program does.