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. College credit available.

PDF Brochure

What to Expect

Participants will spend all day with a faculty member 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. From week to week, schedules may look a bit different, but expect to spend most of your time in learning communities with your lead faculty, teaching assistant, peers, and possibly students from a different session. Groups will come together at the end of the week to present their discoveries to other students and faculty.

During free time, 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 group 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. 

Students can earn one college credit per week of study for a small fee. Please find the fee schedule under costs and financial aid.

International students - please contact us directly to discuss any potential visa issues.

"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 2016 - apply today!

  • Session I/II: July 3 - July 16 (application materials due before June 17th)
    • Philosophy Gone Wild - 2 week off-campus session
  • Session II: July 10 - July 16 (application materials due before June 24th)
    • Ludology: The Math (and More) of Games and Puzzles
    • DIY Chemistry
  • Session III: July 17 - July 23 (application materials due before July 1)
    • Ways of Knowing
    • Speech Matters: Be Heard and Make a Difference
  • Session IV: July 24 - July 30 (application materials due before July 8)
    • Place-based Performance: Theater Unleashed
    • Get on the Bus: Food from the Ground Up - 1 week off-campus session
    • Green Mountain Ecology

Apply Now!

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.

2016 Session I/II: July 3 - July 16

Philosophy gone wild

Little bit of: Philosophy, Environmental Studies
Instructor: William Edelglass
Two-week course: July 3 – July 16
Possible college credits: 2

In this enviro-sophical walkabout, you’ll spend two weeks in the real world, camping, canoeing, hiking and...well, reading and discussing. Where do you fit in this world without walls? Who are you in your habitat—influenced or influencer?

With us, you’re going to:
• Develop your personal environmental philosophy.
• Read a challenging philosophical text with attention and intention.
• Delve into the human impact on the environment.
• Develop active listening skills.
• Paddle a canoe with elegance.

NOTE: Students in this program will get to camp in the wilderness near our campus for two weeks. Marlboro can loan sleeping bags and other equipment to students, if needed.

2016 Session III: July 17 - July 23

Ways of Knowing

Little bit of: Philosophy, Writing
Instructor: Amer Latif
One-week course: July 17 – July 23
Possible college credits: 1

There are many ways of learning: movement, meditation, reading, chocolate-tasting, and nature walks. We’re going to deepen our understanding of what makes life meaningful. In this whole-body approach, you’ll be challenged and encouraged to find your unique voice and become the fullest expression of yourself.

You’ll engage with yourself and others to:
• Identify commonalities among diverse experiences.
• Increase self-expression and self-awareness.
• Increase observation skills and heighten discernment.
• Produce a written piece that expresses your understandings and learning.

Speech Matters: be heard and make a difference

Little bit of: Politics, Social Justice
Instructor: Meg Mott
One-week course: July 17 – July 23
Possible college credits: 1

The way we describe a problem determines how we address it. When the language promotes shame, as is often the case in schools, prisons, hospitals, and rehab, the people being discussed become objects. But when the language promotes strength, the very same people become part of the solution. We’re going to use role play, close reading, and reframing exercises to switch out of shaming discourse and step into a vernacular of strength.

To do this, you’ll:
• Learn to identify shaming techniques.
• Reframe arguments to reduce stigma and increase action.
• Increase awareness of peer advocacy programs through web-based research.

2016 Session IV: July 24 - July 30

Get on the Bus: Food from the ground up

Little bit of: Environmental Science, Botany, Agriculture
Instructor: Neal Taylor
One-week course: July 24 - July 30
Possible college credits: 1

This trip will be an investigation of food—how it's grown, how it gets from the farm to our homes, how we prepare and eat it, and its meanings for us individually and socially. We will learn through visits with farmers and organizations, videos, readings, short presentations, and sharing our own experiences and knowledge. We will also get to experience working with farmers, camping outdoors, and cooking our own food.

We'll form our own travelling learning community to:
• Become aware of our relationship to food.
• Grapple with the economic, ecological, health, and social challenges of our modern food system.
• Explore alternative approaches to food system issues, especially in the state of Vermont.
• Gain firsthand experience of growing, preparing, and eating healthy food.

NOTE: This is a travelling program that will visit a variety of farms in the region. Students in this program will be camping in the wilderness, on farms, and at campgrounds for two weeks. Marlboro can loan sleeping bags and other equipment to students, if needed.

DIY Chemistry

Little bit of: Chemistry, Technology
Instructor: Todd Smith
One-week course: July 10 – July 16
Possible college credits: 1

Chemistry labs are often full of fancy, amazing devices and tech. But what’s inside those machines, and how do they work? We’re going to find out when we build a Lego spectrophotometer, a microfluidics device, and an Arduino-based data logger. To understand our mechanisms, we’ll discuss underlying chemistry concepts, as well as principles of electronics and some simple programming. This course will weave together classroom discussion, instrument design and construction, sample collection, and laboratory analysis.

Come into our lab to:
• Learn the basics of working with Arduino (circuits and programming).
• Learn to build simple but powerful instruments.
• Use your own instruments to explore chemistry concepts.

2016 Session IV: July 24 - July 30

Place-based performance: theater unleashed

Little bit of: Theater, Writing
Instructor: Rosalie Purvis
One-week course: July 24 – July 30
Possible college credits: 1

Marlboro’s beautiful and multifaceted campus will inspire the creation of performance works. We’re going to fulfill a range of acting and writing prompts to create our material, exploring how to create and embody characters and then writing for them. We’ll address questions such as “What kind of space does a particular piece need?” and “What sort of piece does a particular space inspire?” Our explorations will culminate in a showing of individual, site-specific pieces as well as a larger piece created by all of you.

Come if you’re ready to:
• Respond to acting and writing prompts.
• Create characters inspired by place.
• Perform in individual and ensemble site-specific pieces.

Green Mountain Ecology

Little bit of: Ecology, Biology
Instructor: Jaime Tanner
One week: July 24 – July 30
Possible college credits: 1

In the natural world around us, what factors influence where organisms survive and thrive? We’ll find that out while we traipse through streams, walk in the woods, climb mountains, and stroll through meadows, observing the relationships of these environments to the species we find within them. We’ll identify local species using field guides and dichotomous keys while identifying ecological relationships using tools and methods employed by ecologists.

Come along and:
• Participate in hands-on research.
• Work collaboratively with other eco-venturers.
• Develop hypotheses and predictions to be tested.
• Report findings in a final presentation.


2016 Session II: July 10 - July 16

Ludology: the math (and more) of games and puzzles

Little bit of: Mathematics, Economics
Instructor: Matt Ollis
One-week course: July 10 – July 16
Possible college credits: 1

What makes a game or puzzle truly brilliant? We will explore this question and many others through the lens of math’s balance of clarity and creativity. We’ll discuss what makes a game welldesigned, and you might even design something yourself. You’ll gain insight and appreciation for the puzzle-like nature of math in a way you (probably) haven’t considered.

You’re going to:
• Work collaboratively with other people on math puzzles.
• Get at the heart of games, both your own designs and existingones.
• Explore and reveal solutions to mathematical (and other) puzzles.