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Pre-College Programs

Rochester’s Pre-College Programs give you a preview of what student life is like here. Courses are offered in a wide variety of subject areas, allowing you to explore your interests and think about what you might want to study in college. Sessions range from one to four weeks in length and include the option to stay in a dorm on campus.

Registration is open now for all summer sessions:

Rochester Scholars Session A (non-credit): July 12-23

Rochester Scholars Session B (non-credit): July 26-30

Taste of College (credit-bearing): July 11-August 7

Like many other students, Rachel Bierasinski enjoyed her Pre-College experience so much that she decided to apply to Rochester—and now she continues to gain invaluable experience as a Rochester undergraduate. You can read her story below.

We hope to see you on campus this summer!

Rachel Bierasinski
Akron, New York
Mechanical Engineering 2013

Coming from a very small high school – I’m talking a senior class of 130 students – I never quite had the chance to take any engineering classes. I had known since sixth grade that I wanted to do something involving hands-on problem solving and technology, but my high school didn’t have the resources to let me decide exactly what I wanted to do. I took as many technology classes as I could, like Computer Graphics and Woodworking, but I still wanted to do more, so I decided to enroll in a pre-college program.

The Rochester Scholars program at the University of Rochester is designed to give you a taste of what college courses are like. In summer 2008, I enrolled in two courses: Careers in Engineering and Build a Mobile Robot. I also took advantage of the option to stay on campus for the week, which was great because I got to fully experience what student life is like at Rochester.

Careers in Engineering was very exciting for me, because it covered the basics in nearly all types of engineering. We extracted DNA from fruits and vegetables using a blender, dish soap, a meat tenderizer, and methyl alcohol. We also constructed a protective piece for an egg and then dropped it off a three-story building. My group was given only pipe cleaners and duct tape to work with – it was quite the challenge! Our professor also showed us how to make ice cream using liquid nitrogen. I learned more than I ever thought I would about engineering in one short week—and I haven’t even told you about my robotics course yet.

Build a Mobile Robot was also enormously fun. In teams of three, we built a Lego Mindstorms robot and programmed it to fight another robot, follow a black line on a white background, and follow our hands. At the end of the week, there was a presentation day where all the classes got together and presented what they learned to their families and professors.

Those classes were an experience I will never forget. Through the Rochester Scholars program, I was also able to connect with the Assistant Dean of Mechanical Engineering, Lisa Norwood, to learn even more about what my college courses might actually be like.

So I bet you’re wondering what it was like staying in the dorms on campus for a week. I was on my own, as if I were in college. I had a roommate, who I connected with before the program began. I experienced the process of packing my belongings and moving into a dorm, and I had my own University of Rochester ID. There were hall programs scheduled for the times we weren’t in class. That’s when I hung out with other Rochester Scholars students. I also got the opportunity to explore the campus on my own.

Staying on campus helped me decide that the U of R was where I wanted to be. After just one short week, I did not want to leave. So, I decided to apply to Rochester, and here I am. Some of my closest friends here are fellow mechanical engineers I met while staying on campus for Rochester Scholars.

As a Rochester student, a huge part of my time is devoted to clubs. I am a member of Mini Baja, Solar Splash, and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE). In Mini Baja, we design and race a car – similar to a go-kart – every year, and this club is primarily student-run. I’m getting hands-on experience, learning how to use machines like the lathe and mill, and I’m starting to learn how to weld. We recently traveled to South Carolina to participate in an international competition. Solar Splash is a new club, in which we’re designing a solar-powered boat to be entered into an international competition this summer. I am the group’s sponsorship chair; I take care of fundraising and getting sponsorship from local and national companies. In SWE, we work with girl scouts to meet badge requirements and we also do career-building and events where we have discussions with professors. My clubs are a crucial part of my education as a whole, since they give me opportunities to acquire hands-on skills.

I am also part of the Graduate Engineering at Rochester (GEAR) program, an accelerated program that will allow me to graduate with a master’s degree in mechanical engineering in just five years. GEAR is a select group for which you can apply when you apply to the University. As a GEAR student, I am required to maintain a 3.3 GPA for seven semesters and I’m also granted 75% off tuition for my fifth year of study. The best part about GEAR is that I am already a graduate student here at the U of R, which makes my goal of becoming a mechanical engineer a lot easier, and even more exciting.

After I graduate from Rochester, I hope to get my dream job, designing roller coasters and other thrill rides. I simply love going to amusement parks, and I think it would be amazing to be able to design the rides. Participating in Rochester’s Pre-College Programs inspired me to stay on this path and gave me a clear vision of what I want to do with my future. I highly recommend signing up for a class or two, whether you already know what you want to do or are just interested in giving something a try!

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