cameron cole

Cameron Cole

College Bridge

Cameron Cole started classes at the University of Southern California a lot less nervous than many of his fellow first-years. He chalks up his confidence to the fact that he’d already spent two quarters in a college classroom during his senior year of high school.

Cole, a 2019 graduate of Kenwood Academy, is an alumnus of the College Bridge Program, which gives Chicago Public Schools students the chance to sample rigorous University of Chicago coursework for free during the school year or over the summer. (Seventy to eighty percent of academic-year participants are Kenwood Academy students.) Although he’s a devoted STEM student who’s majoring in mechanical engineering at USC, Cole chose to enroll in an undergraduate literature class to hone his writing skills. “AP classes can give you some idea of what college is like, but nothing beats being in an actual class doing the work with a college professor,” he says.

During each quarter, Cole checked in weekly with his academic advisor from the University of Chicago Professional Education. “He directed me to the writing center, which was a great resource that gave me additional insight on my writing,” he says, “and he also gave me really good advice about how to communicate with my professor”—including making the most of office hours. At USC, “I went to office hours for almost all my classes the first week” to build relationships with professors, Cole says. “Nobody else really does that because they’re intimidated, but it’s so helpful to get to know them—they’re all on your side.”

Cole says that College Bridge helped him stand out during the college application process; interviewers were impressed to see a UChicago course grade on his transcript. “The dean of engineering was in my USC interview and said, ‘We do research with the University of Chicago.’ I feel like it provided a way to show that I was more ready for college than the average high school student.”

“College Bridge is a world-class opportunity, and it can be game-changing for your future.” - Cameron Cole

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