Pre-College Summer Programs

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Marlboro College’s Pre-College Summer Programs offer young adults (age 15-19) the opportunity to study with Marlboro College faculty members and to build relationships with a group of other students passionate about learning, in the classroom and out. Space is limited to 12 participants per program, creating vibrant communities with room for every voice.

What to Expect

Participants will spend all day with a faculty member (8:30am - 4:30pm, Monday - Friday) where they will get an introduction to Marlboro’s interdisciplinary, hands-on approach to college academic work. Depending on the topic, an average day might include reading and discussing an article, doing a lab experiment, writing and performing a scene, or solving a moral quandary using game theory. Groups will come together Saturday to present their discoveries to other students and faculty.

During afternoons and evenings, plan to have fun and explore Marlboro’s approach to creating intentional living communities. With college student RAs and the assistant director (who lives at the dorm), participants will help create a weekly dorm charter and contribute to planning evening activities on and off campus. In past summers, activities have ranged from game nights, to ice cream at the Chelsea Royal, to a Friday night campfire / open mic night. We ask participants to leave cell phones, tablets, computers and other screens at home, so they can be fully active and present community members. 

"There's just a really good energy all around. The activities really pushed me to try to be my best self and the staff was really welcoming. I've never laughed so hard in my life." –2014 participant

"He had an amazing week that has truly changed his entire life outlook. We are so thankful!" –Parent of a 2014 Participant

Summer SEssions 2015 - Still Accepting Applications 

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More Information



Kate Trzaskos, Marlboro College director of non-degree programs, or Angie Hamilton, application and enrollment coordinator, are happy to answer questions and can be reached at:, or 802-451-7118.

2015 Session I: July 5 - July 11

Food and Farming in Vermont


Faculty Member: Expedition Education Institute, environmental studies

How can we sustain ourselves in healthy ways? Local agriculture is a way of producing food that is healthy for us, for the land, and for communities. We will investigate the growth of local agriculture by visiting and camping at some of the farms and producers found near Marlboro. Through talks, tours, discussions, and getting our hands dirty, we will learn of healthier ways of nourishing ourselves and how the communities we live in nourish us socially, emotionally, and spiritually. In our time camping, eating, living, and playing together, we will explore the importance of community and the ways that we can create and sustain it. Through activities and reflection, we will learn community-building skills and investigate the gifts we have to share. NOTE: Students in this program will get to camp out of Expedition Education Institute’s modified school bus for the week. They will not spend any nights in the dorm, but will have access to showers at some, if not all, of the camping locations. Marlboro can loan sleeping bags and other equipment to students, if needed.

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes

Faculty (guest): Rosalie Purvis, theater 

We will explore a range of techniques for character creation, from movement to writing to ancient mask to Stanislavsky, while discussing the many implications of "becoming someone else." We will address what happens when we create characters that are very unlike ourselves, and also what happens when we create characters that are close to our own more obvious identity traits. We will study techniques to transform our presentation in terms if physicality, age, and how personality impacts character. We will also address larger implications of crossing identity lines such as transgressive cross-racial casting, casting along the gender spectrum, creating characters based on historical figures or archetypes. The course will culminate in each student creating a performance based on his or her character followed by character interviews and a group project.

2015 Session III: July 19 - July 25

Ways of Knowing


Faculty Member: Amer Latif, comparative religion

What is knowledge, and how do we get it? How might eating, sleeping, reading, writing, and singing be considered ways of knowing? Through participating in a range of activities such as meditation, yoga, cooking a meal, taking a walk in the woods, chocolate tasting, singing, reading short religious and philosophical texts, and writing, we will explore the nature of knowledge and the ways in which we come to know. Together, we will challenge conventional ideas of what it means to know and how one acquires knowledge. In addition to focusing on the relationship between head and heart, reason and imagination, we will pay special attention to the place and role of the body in the acquisition of knowledge.

The ARt of Persuasion


Faculty Member: Meg Mott, politics

Ever wonder why the same people do all the talking? Why some students get listened to and others don’t? This class examines group dynamics and reframes old discussions so that new ideas can come in. We’ll practice debate, participate in fishbowls, and re-enact the worst sort of encounters in order to become braver interveners. Besides researching existing positions on an issue, we’ll talk about gender and race and how these social hierarchies keep some arguments out. By the end of the week, you’ll have a sense of how to use verbal clashes constructively and how to reframe an argument so that more people will be inspired to speak.

2015 Session II: July 12 - July 18

You(th) Can Make a Difference

Faculty (guest): Angela Berkfield, ACT for Social Justice

Want to make a difference and don’t know where to start? Or are you already a change-maker and want to learn theory and skills to be more effective? Join with youth leaders from around the country to talk about building social movements. Working with Angela Berkfield, founder of ACT for Social Justice, and other dynamic local activists and organizers, participants will examine ways that social movements have shifted power and advanced human rights. We’ll focus particularly on the vital role that young people play in social movements and work with youth to develop skills needed to bring about change. Come prepared for an active and thought-provoking week. Make sure to pack your passion, energy, and ideas – we’ll work together to add our voices to the social movements that inspire us.

Game Theory and Social Change

Faculty Member: Matt Ollis, math

What can mathematics tell us about the choices we make and how can it inform better decisions? Our approach will be broad: We'll become active game designers within the Heroscape game system, play and analyze a variety of other games, hold mock auctions and other hands-on activities, and analyze the mathematics of voting systems and political power. We'll also keep an eye on what aspects of decision-making mathematics has little to say about and collaborate with the concurrent session of "You Can Make a Difference." No prior mathematical skills are needed or assumed. 

2015 Session IV: July 26 - August 1

DIY Chemistry

Faculty Member: Todd Smith, chemistry

Chemistry labs can be full of fancy instruments. But what's inside those machines, and how do they work? In this course we'll find out when we build our own simple instruments and use them to perform some standard laboratory analyses. For example, we'll use a Lego spectrophotometer to measure phosphorus—an essential plant nutrient—in soil samples. We will also create a simple microfluidics device to measure amino acids in leaf extracts. Another project will be to build a data logger—an Arduino-based instrument programmed to measure and record light and temperature. We'll use this data logger to study the growth of plants in the college's greenhouse. To understand our instruments we'll need to discuss underlying chemistry concepts, as well as principles of electronics and some simple programming. This course will therefore weave together classroom discussion, instrument design and construction, sample collection, and laboratory analysis.

History of Western Cuisine

Faculty Member: Adam Franklin-Lyons, history 

Why do you eat what you eat?  What does "American" food mean to you? What did dieting mean centuries ago?  We will read recipes and historical accounts of food, discuss major historical changes in the cuisines of Europe and the United States, and, of course, cook and eat dishes from centuries past.  We will cover the importance of spices to medieval European food, the changes to global food consumption brought about by the contact between Europe and the Americas, and think about the different influences on contemporary fare in the United States. There will also be room to explore specific food interests that students bring with them, so bring your appetite.