The University of New Orleans' STEM Scholars summer camp returned to campus this week following a three-year hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The intensive, five-day program aims to increase retention and graduation rates of incoming first year students who have chosen to pursue majors in science, technology, engineering, and math.
The program also has a goal of tackling the nationwide shortage of STEM graduates and to counteract a troubling national statistic, said biological sciences professor and department chair Wendy Schluchter.
“Only 40% of beginning freshmen graduate within six years of starting college,” Schluchter said. “More than half of all science and engineering freshmen majors drop out of these fields before graduation.”
The camp, which started in 2015, gives students a jump start on required course content focusing on math and biology skills, Schluchter said. The program offers a biology camp aimed at biology majors and two math camps aimed at all science, engineering, and pre-engineering majors.
The camp is also designed to help ease the transition from high school to college. Over the course of the July 17-21 camp week, students are exposed to the pace of college courses and the realistic expectations about the demands of college-level work, Schluchter said.
“At the end of the camp, we hope they will be the ambassadors to teach all other incoming freshmen the tools they learn in this camp,” she said.