NEW CANAAN, Conn. -- Many of the 400 students at Horizons Student Enrichment Program at New Canaan Country School will be the first of their families to attend college.
Horizons is a core six-week summer program on the campus of the school, a year round Saturday School and High School program. Fifth- and sixth-grade summer students go on weekly Wednesday visits to local schools like Fairfield University, Albertus Magnus College in Hartfoerd and Manhattanville College in Westchester County, to get a sense of life on a college campus and learn from the admissions office what will be required of them as they go through high school, school officials said.
“I learned that to get into college I need good grades in the A/B range and to keep being excellent in school. I can’t be like ‘ugh I have to go to school today’, but instead be energetic and happy," said eighth grader Salomon Zapata. ”What really caught my ear at Fairfield U was hearing about the pep-rallies and the musical performers that come to the school. They made it sound like so much fun, that I was like, oh my gosh, I can’t wait."
When summer students transition into Horizons’ High School program, "opportunities abound from year round academic coaching to comprehensive college guidance, which include school visits, SAT prep, seminars on interviews, essay writing and financial aid," officials said in a press release.
Sebastian Higuita, a junior at Brien McMahon High School, said his Horizons’ tutor, Lucas Dec, a University of Connecticut graduate, helped him excel in his coursework and keeping his eye on college.
“I was paired with Lucas between 8th and 9th grade and I had a great connection with him because he is close to my age and went to a college that I am looking into," Sebastian said. "We meet once a week at Barnes & Noble. I am taking (government) this year and was kind of struggling and then Lucas taught me how to take notes properly on note cards. I used to cram for a Gov test, but Lucas suggested I start studying a week before and do it in 30-minute intervals. My grades totally improved.”
Kevin Zhu, a top student while at Westhill High School, is a Horizons graduate and freshman at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania. Zhu said his success comes from his close bond with Dan Katz, a college counselor from Wilton High School, who volunteers for the Horizons program.
“Dan was a major help in the process," Zhu said. "We eventually came up with three lists, Reach schools, Fit schools and Safety schools.”