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Pace University's Pre-College Program: Our Honest Review

Pre-college programs are a powerful tool not only for STEM education, but for any field that you have a serious interest in and want to pursue. They offer an opportunity to indulge in college-level coursework in a lower pressure environment, and also contribute to your overall academic growth and learning. Admissions officers and recruiters appreciate such initiative and effort in candidates, and the learning experience on its own will do you plenty of favors as you upskill and prepare yourself for a career in the field of your choice. Today’s blog focuses on the wide range of pre-college programs offered by Pace University. 


What is Pace University’s pre-college program?

Pace University’s Pre-College Summer Program is a residential 2-week summer intensive for rising high school juniors and seniors. It offers a choice of ten courses across a plethora of fields, from tech to mathematics to the arts and humanities, providing you exposure to a university-level curriculum and intellectual challenges. In addition to gaining insights into your potential future career, attending the program can also help you secure an annual merit scholarship and course credits for a Pace University degree. This hands-on program is a good opportunity for you to build skills, knowledge, and confidence, and overall set a strong foundation for college success.


How does Pace University structure their pre-college program?

Pace University offers ten diverse courses, of which you can choose to attend one:


  • Art Portfolio Development: A course designed for aspiring artists who want to pursue a degree in visual arts. There is a strong focus on enhancing your art portfolio, which is crucial for college applications. You will work in well-equipped art studios at Pace University, receiving guidance from experienced faculty who are active in the art world. The course includes practical sessions in various mediums, critiques to improve artistic expression, and workshops on how to present a portfolio. You will end the course by compiling a comprehensive portfolio that you can use for future college applications.

  • Digital Communication and Social Media: If you’re interested in working at the intersection of tech and marketing in fields like digital marketing, communication, or media, then this is for you. This course offers insights into content creation, digital branding, and social media analytics. The program utilizes modern digital media labs and provides access to the latest tools and software used in the industry. Faculty members include professionals with experience in digital media who offer real-world insights and mentorship. By the end of this course, you’ll have a comprehensive understanding of how to critically analyze information on social media, assess sources, and develop a polished online presence.

  • Global Business and Economy: This is a valuable course if you have a keen interest in economics, business, and global markets. It covers topics like international trade, economic theory, and business management. You will have access to business simulation labs and financial trading rooms, mimicking real-world business environments. The course is taught by faculty from Pace's Lubin School of Business with a pedagogy focused on experiential learning.

  • Introduction to Film, Television, and Digital Cinema: Perfect for those passionate about film and media studies, this course offers hands-on experience in film production, editing, and scriptwriting. Utilizing Pace's production studios and digital editing labs, you’ll have the opportunity to learn directly from filmmakers and industry professionals. The program includes workshops on various aspects of filmmaking, daily film screenings, and discussions. The critical, argumentative, and written skills you will pick up in this course are in tune with college-level film and media studies courses, giving you a leg up if you decide to pursue this field in college.

  • Practical Mathematics: This course focuses on applying mathematical concepts to solve real-world problems, covering key subjects like statistics, data analysis, and predictive modeling. You will use mathematical software and tools available in the university’s tech labs, guided by faculty who specialize in applied mathematics. The course includes practical data projects, collaborative workshops, and problem-solving sessions. Importantly, you’ll have the opportunity to work on a satellite project with Pace University faculty, as well as design a cube satellite space mission that may be used as Pace’s submission to the nationally-recognized University Nanosatellite Program.


  • Psychology of Human Motivation and Learning: This course is intended for students fascinated by human behavior and psychology. It explores theories of motivation, learning processes, and behavioral psychology. You will have the opportunity to participate in experiments, conduct research under faculty supervision, and attend seminars by guest speakers from the field of psychology. The program aims to provide a deep understanding of how psychological principles apply to education and personal development, introducing you to the works of major researchers and scholars as well as giving you the chance to conduct several observation-based studies of human behavior.


  • Publishing: Become an Author of Your Own Story: Ideal for aspiring writers and publishers, this course will teach you all about the world of publishing, from writing to marketing books. The course includes writing workshops, editorial meetings, and lessons on digital publishing. You will complete the program by working with publishing industry experts to develop your writing sample into a ready-to-publish manuscript that’ll come in handy for your college applications or beyond.


  • Theater Program: If you’re interested in acting, directing, or theater production, then this course provides a comprehensive overview of the theater arts. Held in Pace's performance studios and theaters, the course offers practical experience in acting, set design, and direction. You will work with experienced actors and directors who provide both instruction and mentorship, participate in daily rehearsals, performance critiques, and workshops on various aspects of theater production. The course culminates in a live performance where you will prepare and perform two contrasting monologues to your peers and Pace faculty.


  • Summertime Stories: Digital Photography: Set in the vibrant surroundings of New York City, the course takes advantage of Pace University's state-of-the-art digital labs and professional photography equipment. Under the guidance of faculty who are professional photographers, you will learn techniques in digital photography, editing, and visual storytelling. The curriculum includes field trips to iconic locations for practical shooting, classroom sessions on photo-editing software, and discussions on the history and ethics of photography. The final project involves creating a digital portfolio of images that tell a compelling story, designed to be used for further educational or professional opportunities.


  • Graphic Novel and Comic Arts - NYC: If you are passionate about comics and graphic storytelling, from initial concept and storyboard to final production, then this is the course for you. This course provides you access to drawing tablets, design software, and printing resources, and features sessions teaching character development, plot structuring, and visual dynamics workshops. The course also incorporates trips to local comic book stores and galleries to understand market trends and styles. The course concludes with you developing your own short graphic novel or comic strip, which can serve as a foundational piece for your portfolio.


Is it prestigious?

Pace University’s pre-college programs are fairly selective, with the applications being open only to those with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. It provides not only education but also networking opportunities, connecting you with professionals and peers who both share your interests and are also able to provide critical industry and career insights. The pedagogy of the courses is highly practical and oriented around current industry standards, further cementing the exposure you can get.


How do you apply, and who is eligible?

To be eligible for Pace University’s pre-college programs, you will need:

  1. A GPA of 3.0 or higher.

  2. A 250-500 word essay explaining why you are choosing the course you’re applying for. Note that this will be a major contributor to your application!

  3. Your official high school transcript, shared directly by your school.

  4. A recommendation letter.

  5. A non-refundable $50 application fee.

  6. Proof of English proficiency if you’re an international student.


The courses run from July 14-27, though the applications offer rolling admissions. You’re advised to apply as early as possible to secure a spot.


How much do Pace University’s pre-college programs cost?

Aside from the non-refunded application fee of $50, the program costs a total of $3,700 inclusive of tuition, housing, breakfast and dinner, class materials and program activities. 


There is no financial aid available.


Considering pros and cons

Pros:


  1. Enhance your college preparedness: Direct exposure to college-level courses and industry-standard tools and techniques boosts your readiness for university academics. The soft skills you learn from these intensive courses further assist you when it comes to college interviews and the like.

  2. Good networking opportunities: The practical pedagogy of the courses provides you plenty of opportunities to meet industry professionals and like-minded peers, forming a valuable network that can provide you a lot of support in the future.

  3. Diverse course options: Pace University offers some of the most diverse range of subjects for pre-college courses, allowing you to explore or deepen your interest in whichever field you’re passionate about. It stretches from STEM to tech to the humanities and the arts.


Cons:


  1. The cost: With tuition priced at $3,700, including various services and materials, the program can be a significant financial investment.

  2. The lack of financial aid: Compounding the not-insignificant cost, the program has no option for any kind of financial aid, further pushing it out of reach for many.

  3. Brief duration: While the courses themselves are well structured, they’re still only two weeks long, limiting the learning you can extract from them.


Our review

Pace University's Pre-College Program is a great opportunity to get a starter experience of college-level education while making valuable connections, and exploring your academic interests in a structured, supportive environment. While the courses are a bit short and not cheap, If you can afford it and are interested in one of the many courses on offer, the practical and intensive pedagogy make it a solid opportunity to consider for your summer.



One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: Pace University

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