The College Preparatory Program

Level: Open to students entering grades 11 or 12 or freshman year of college in fall 2015.
Session: I, June 29-July 17, 2015; II, July 21-August 7, 2015
Days & Time: Monday–Friday, 10:10 a.m.–12:00 p.m. and 2:10–4:00 p.m.
Raphael T. Gerraty,
Suzie Hanrahan,
Rose-Ellen Lessy,
Barbara Morris,
Steen Sehnert,
Anne Summers,
Debbie Yuster,

I could feel myself improving… in reading, analyzing, and writing concisely… I didn’t just learn, I became a better thinker.— Banthisa  Somboon, 2014

Course Description

An intensive review in four major skill areas for students who wish to strengthen their preparation for college-level work. Each skill module meets two or three mornings or afternoons per week. Students enrolled in this curricular option are required to take all four modules.

Expository Writing
Deborah Aschkenes, Rose-Ellen Lessy, Barbara Morris, Steen Sehnert

Students reinforce skills in grammar and punctuation as they learn to narrow a general subject into a usable, focused thesis and to write a coherent and informed essay. Through reading, debate, and writing, students develop writing strategies for different types of assignments such as examinations, reports, and term papers. Through careful readings of a variety of short articles and excerpts, students develop an appreciation for the writing skills essential in an academic setting.

New Approaches To Mathematics
Raphael Gerraty, Steen Sehnert, Debbie Yuster

In New Approaches To Mathematics, students practice mathematics as an experimental, discovery-based science, solving open-ended problems through experimentation and creativity. They later revisit their hypotheses and prove them using novel proof techniques. In the second half of the course, students sample various branches of pure and applied mathematics, with topics selected from fields including cryptography, probability, number theory, and geometry. This course develops students' creativity, independent thinking, logical reasoning, and ability to rigorously support their ideas. Instead of using the standard lecture approach, this module uses in-class group exercises in which students support and complement each other through the entire problem solving process, from understanding the problem to presenting the group's solution to the class.

Reading and Critical Thinking
Deborah Aschkenes, Suzie Hanrahan, Barbara Morris

Students develop an understanding of how language and form work in what they read and see in order to develop methods for identifying and critically evaluating conveyed messages. A variety of literary and visual media is considered, including fiction, poetry, drama, newspaper and magazine articles, movies, and television programs.

Study Skills and Research Techniques
Anne Summers

Students practice the skills required to complete college assignments productively and to do research in a university library. Extensively considered are time management, note-taking, outlining, examination preparation, and effective class participation. Students are trained to use the full resources of a library, including traditional research tools as well as computerized catalogs, abstracts, indexes, and bibliographic databases.


Raphael T. Gerraty

Raphael T. Gerraty is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Psychology at Columbia. His research focuses on large-scale brain communication, specifically on the roles of both intrinsic organization and dynamic reorganization of widespread brain networks in learning under uncertainty. He received a dual B.A. in neuroscience and German studies at Wesleyan University. He has served as a teaching assistant and guest lecturer for Behavioral Neurobiology; Mind, Brain, and Behavior; and Introductory Statistics, and has mentored both high school and undergraduate students in cognitive neuroscience, research methods, statistics, and computer programming. 

Suzie Hanrahan

Suzie Hanrahan was born in Los Angeles. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago with degrees in gender studies and law. Previously, she worked in documentary film and reality TV, most recently as the Senior Associate Producer on the Emmy-nominated History Channel production 9/11: The Days After. Her literary interests include fictional autobiographies, fairy tales, ghost stories, absurdism, personal essays, and crime noir. She has taught seminars and workshops for military veterans and served as a mentor, tutor, and media literacy guide for high-school students.

Rose-Ellen Lessy

Rose Ellen Lessy holds an A.B. from Brown University in comparative literature and an M.A. from Cornell University, where she is currently completing her Ph.D. in English and American literature. She has served as an instructor for several years in the John S. Knight writing program at Cornell. Her dissertation focuses on the relationship between American literary realism and medical science in the early twentieth century.

Barbara Morris

Barbara Morris is a University of Chicago Ph.D. and the co-founder of a pioneering program in graduate research and writing at Parsons the New School for Design in the division of Art, Media and Technology. She has worked as a professor of film and literature at UCLA, Rutgers University, and Fordham University. Dr. Morris has received research fellowships from the Fulbright Committee, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the governments of Spain, the United States, and Argentina for her work in cinema studies.

Steen Sehnert

Steen Sehnert majored in psychology and philosophy at Colby College and holds a Ph.D. in psychology from Columbia University. He studies the effect of engagement with material on learning and comprehension, investigating the best ways to engage students in the classroom and at home. Most recently he has been trying to understand where value comes from and how people can affect their own experience of value in the way they engage with a stimulus.

Anne Summers

Anne Summers holds a B.A from Barnard College and is currently pursuing a Ph.D in English at Stony Brook University. She is a recipient of a Graduate Council Fellowship at Stony Brook and is specializing in Victorian literature with an additional graduate certificate in women’s and gender studies. Her research interests include visual culture and female authorship, labor, and education in the Victorian period. She has worked as a high school and middle school tutor, an SAT prep instructor, and a reading teacher.

Debbie Yuster

Debbie Yuster received a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia in 2007. She is currently an assistant professor of mathematics at SUNY Maritime. Prior to this, she held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS) at Rutgers University. Her research interests include combinatorics, computational geometry, and algebraic aspects of topological dynamics. Dr. Yuster has taught undergraduate courses at Columbia and other universities, and has worked with New York City math teachers and their students in order to promote interest in math, as part of the National Science Foundation's GK-12 program.

Specific course information, such as hours and instructors, are subject to change at the discretion of the University.