Cultivating Youth Affinity for College Within the Context of Campus-Based Summer Camps

Barry A. Garst, Ryan J. Gagnon, Thomas Clanton, Jay Woodward


College and university-based (CUB) summer camps are a prominent pre-collegiate experience targeting middle and high school adolescents, which research suggests may enhance college aspirations and preparedness, develop academic knowledge and skills, and influence future career choices. This study examines factors that predict the relation between affinity for college, program engagement and support, college major selection, and social–emotional outcomes stemming from youth involvement in a CUB camp based on data collected from 641 middle and high school-aged youth who completed an online questionnaire on the last day of the CUB camp. The findings validated a 4-factor model comprised of college brand awareness, college relational expectations, college academic interest–science, and college academic interest–technology. Further, the structural equation model (SEM) results suggested a relation between affinity for college, program engagement and support, and social–emotional outcomes. In addition, a CUB camp student’s lack of a college major had a significant negative direct effect on some dimensions of affinity for college including college brand awareness, college relational expectations, and college academic interest–science. CUB camp providers can use the results of this study to better articulate how their programs might impact adolescent decision making related to college, as well as inform how CUB camp providers may intentionally create affinity spaces that maximize student awareness of college brands as well as their future expectations for the college experience.


affinity for college; pre-collegiate; career aspiration; camp; STEM

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