The newest – and youngest – members of the Brookdale community were welcomed to campus last week, as the Asbury Park Dream Academy Early College High School program kicked off a four-week preparatory program in Lincroft.
The 15 students, all incoming freshmen at Asbury Park High School, received their official Brookdale student IDs, trained for the Accuplacer exam and took part in a variety of personal and academic enrichment activities alongside Brookdale faculty and staff.
The program, which will continue through mid-August, is designed to prepare the students to become full-fledged college students this fall.
The Dream Academy, announced this summer by Brookdale and the Asbury Park School District (APSD), allows eligible students to earn a Brookdale associate degree by the time they graduate from high school.
Enrollees supplement their traditional coursework by taking college-level classes with Brookdale faculty at the high school during their freshman and sophomore years.
In their junior year Dream Academy students take courses at the Brookdale Higher Education Center in Wall, before becoming full-time Brookdale students and completing their senior year studying on the Lincroft campus.
Students also receive a wide range of student services and support, including a four-week summer enrichment program in Lincroft designed to prepare the students for the rigors of college life.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for the students and their families,” said APSD director of operations Roberta Beauford, who joined the students and district officials Angela Thomas and Brieem Towns on campus July 11. “They have all worked very hard to get here.”
The preparatory program, running five days per week from July 11 through Aug. 4, included seminars on leadership, team-building, note-taking, research, literature, ceramics, Chinese culture and World War II history. Students also had opportunities to relax and unwind, taking a group hiking trip in Thompson Park and participating in weekly yoga classes offered by the Brookdale Fitness Center.
“It’s very exciting,” said Dream Academy student Brooke Cottman, prior to receiving her official college ID on July 11. “Not a lot of kids have this kind of experience. I’m very grateful. I’m a little nervous, but I’m pretty excited too.”
Those sentiments were echoed by fellow Dream Academy student Micah Wright, who said she was “speechless” to learn she had been selected for the unique program.
“It’s a great opportunity,” said Wright, who plans to pursue a four-year college degree and a career in social work after completing the program. “I’m going to make the most of it.”
The Dream Academy Early College High School program is funded by the APSD.
Asbury Park wasn’t the only local school district represented on campus this summer. More than two dozen juniors and seniors from high schools in Keansburg, Long Branch, Neptune and Asbury Park also took part in their own summer preparatory programs as part of Brookdale’s annual College Readiness program.
The initiative, sponsored by a state higher education grant and the New Jersey Council of County Colleges, provides academic training and enrichment opportunities for pending high school graduates in subjects such as math, writing and reading.
Check out more photos of the Dream Academy preparatory program here.