How one student’s Summer@Brown experience made her more ready than ever for her A.P. class and the college application process.
Watching a video about Summer@Brown at her high school last spring, Courtney Bertrand knew instantly that she wanted to attend.
“Learning about the other students’ experiences, it interested me because I knew (attending Summer@Brown) would prepare me for college,” Bertrand recalls.
Her mother, Yvette, agreed.
“I thought it would be an awesome experience for her to live on a college campus, have a roommate and see what it’s like to be away from home,” Yvette says.
So Courtney, a high school junior from Meriden, Connecticut, applied and was accepted to Summer@Brown and received a Partner Scholarship that helped offset the cost of tuition.
Choosing what Summer@Brown course to take was an equally easy decision.
“I’ve always been interested in criminal law, but I’m taking an A.P. writing course this year and knew I wanted to improve my writing skills before I took that,” Courtney says of her choice to enroll in the two-week course “Writing the Expository Essay.”
Heading to campus for check-in, Courtney describes herself as “pretty excited and not too nervous.” It helped that she had done a similar program at another college the previous summer, so she knew a little bit about what to pack and what to expect.
The one thing she didn’t have experience with was a roommate, so she was also looking forward to meeting the student she would be living with for the next two weeks.
“We instantly clicked,” Courtney says of her roommate, Andrea. “We went to breakfast every day together, we went to the mall together, we just had a lot in common.”
Thinking back to her Summer@Brown experience, Courtney recalls busy days that started at 6:30 a.m. so that she could be ready in time for her morning class. Despite being new to Brown’s campus, Courtney had no trouble finding her way using the Guidebook app, accessible to all Summer@Brown students, to find her way to class and other locations.
“It was extremely easy to use,” she says.
In class, Courtney found the students and her instructor, Michelle Rada, to be “super nice,” and noticed an almost immediate improvement to her writing skills. Courtney knew that staying on topic was one element of her writing she needed to improve upon and she was eager to have the opportunity to work on developing a more succinct writing style. Through the multiple assignments she completed, as well as feedback from both students and Rada, Courtney was feeling more confident in her writing by the end of the course, even garnering comments from Rada on how much more focused her work had become.
Outside of class, Courtney found a sense of camaraderie among the students on her floor in Archibald-Bronson Hall, a group that included teens from multiple states and countries, including Thailand, England, Illinois, California, and Washington.
Together, they took full advantage of Summer@Brown outings and Brown’s central location in Providence, spending time at the beach, the mall, restaurants and attending a Fourth of July fireworks display in the city.
“Because of Summer@Brown I now have friends from all over the world. It’s so great,” Courtney says.
“It’s an amazing opportunity for all of [the Summer@Brown students] to be around like-minded kids who like to learn and who they never would have met otherwise,” says Yvette. “Everyone is there to learn and broaden their horizons, be around new people and be open-minded.”
Busy with class and her new friends, Courtney’s two weeks at Brown flew by and before she knew it she was headed back home to Connecticut.
But even though her Summer@Brown officially ended, Courtney and Yvette say the positive effects of the program have been much longer lasting.
For starters, Courtney still speaks to her dorm-mates regularly via an ongoing group text.
Academically, Courtney has seen many benefits as well.
“It prepared me for the A.P. English class I’m taking this year. I got to class and felt I really knew what I was doing because of my Summer@Brown experience,” she says.
Yvette agrees, noting that having to complete assignments over the summer kept Courtney in an academic frame of mind and made the start of school much easier.
And on a broader scale, she says her daughter is now more prepared than ever for college.
“She has less fear and more excitement about college now,” Yvette explains.
Courtney agrees and is looking forward to touring some campuses before beginning the application process later this year.
“I didn’t know how I’d be in college. I now have a better understanding of what college will be like. I’m more excited, I’m more comfortable.”