A+ Summer Pre-College

A+ Summer Pre-College prepares rising 11th and 12th-grade students for college-level academics and prepares them academically to be more attractive to top tier schools.  

Many students find themselves unprepared for the rigorous academic transition from high school to college.  Our goal in A+ Summer Pre-College is to better equip high school students to succeed in college by providing academic experiences similar to those they will find in their future college classes.

At A+ Summer Pre-College, students attend courses in logic, research, writing, and presentations and develop the vocabulary, problem-solving and critical reading skills necessary for success on exams and in college-level courses.

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In A+ Summer Pre-College, students focus on three core academic experiences:

College-Level Writing

Perhaps the most important skill for college-bound students is the ability to write well-reasoned arguments. The foundation of the A+ Summer program is the College Level Writing Workshop. Our experienced instructors introduce students to college caliber writing and support them through the process of conceiving and developing a research paper. Instructors will challenge students to move beyond recounting facts and will instruct students in the use of advanced methods of argument development: compare and contrast, argumentation, rhetorical analysis. Each student will write several drafts of an original research paper, as well as complete a number of shorter writing assignments. Our first-rate instructional staff of and low staff-to-student ratio will allow for individualized guidance and feedback throughout the week.

College Reading & Research

Students at A+ Summer will conduct college-level research, allowing them to form, investigate, and then support a claim. Our instructors will support students in focusing their research question, analyzing texts and data, and back up their arguments with evidence. Students will have access to  University libraries to conduct their research, and will craft a bibliography and literature review akin to what they will be expected to produce in college. To further prepare students for college-level thinking, students will be trained in foundational methods for logical reasoning. They will learn how to ferret out fallacious thinking and develop airtight arguments ready for defense. Furthermore, students will be introduced to “theory,” a subject incorporated into virtually every college-level humanities and social science curriculum but almost never taught in secondary schools. Students will learn how to read and understand a theory and ultimately incorporate that theory in their writing to frame and enhance an argument.

Presentation Skills

While the emphasis on strong presentation skills continues to increase in high school, many students have not received specific instruction for this challenge. The A+ Pre-College presentation skills class provides students with practical skills and experience delivering effective oral presentations. Our dynamic instructors provide students with techniques to stay on topic, speak coherently and logically, and answer questions expertly. Our low staff-to-student ratio allows for instructors to work individually with students to provide specific feedback.


Students participate in daily fun activities, including sports, games, arts, and movies. Excursions to local amusement venues, such as the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk at the Stanford Camp, balance learning with entertainment. The most recurrent comment at the end of each summer is, “I never knew I would have so much fun!”


At the end of the fourteen-day program, students will have authored a well-reasoned paper that evidences organized argumentation and implements a theoretical framework.  From this research, they will have created a convincing academic presentation and defend their work before friends and faculty. Students will leave camp with an academic timeline to assist in planning for college entrance and preparing for college academics, including a vocabulary development plan, time management tools, and a study skills toolkit.  Finally, students will complete an introductory SAT practice test and leave with a subscription to an e-Prep online SAT prep course.

Students will prepare a final presentation of their research report to be delivered at the end of the program.

Camps for rising 9th-12th graders have two options:

  • Extended Day: Extended Day Campers attend camp from 9am to 9pm seven days a week (except check-in and check-out days, which are half days), with lunch and dinner provided in the dining hall each day.
  • Overnight: Overnight campers check-in after lunch on the first day of camp and check out before lunch on the last day of camp. All meals and shared dorm accommodations are provided.
Program Grades Location Start Date End Date Price Options Register

Sample Schedule A+ Summer Pre-College

8:00 am Breakfast in the dining hall (overnight campers)
9-9:15 am Extended day camper check-in
9:15 am College-level research class
11:00 am Library research
12:30 pm Lunch in the dining hall (included for all campers)
1:30 pm College level writing class
3:30 pm Presentations class
5:30 pm Dinner in the dining hall (included for all campers)
6:30 pm Group seminar
8:00 pm Evening recreation activities
9:00 pm Extended day camper check-out
10:00 pm Floor check
10:30 pm Room check

Education Unlimited believes in small-group, immersive learning with subject matter experts and experienced teachers. We strive to provide industry-leading instruction to all of our students and hold all staff to the highest possible standards. Staff assignments vary by program and location. Some of our recent staff members for this program include:

John Kephart, PhD - Camp Director and Instructor

Dr. John Kephart III is an associate professor at California State University, Northridge.  Dr. Kephart has a PhD in Rhetorical Theory and Criticism from the University of Southern California.  A member of the Education Unlimited team since 2008, Dr. Kephart has served as an instructor, director and curriculum designer.  He helped to develop the curriculum for both the A+ Pre College and A+ High School summer camp programs.  Dr. Kephart has a teaching philosophy that values students’ active engagement in their own learning; he focuses on encouraging students to find their own voice and perspective on contemporary issues, helping them to be more avid learners, and more engaged citizens.

In addition to his faculty position, Dr. Kephart is also the director of the speech and debate program at CSU Northridge; he has over 16 years of experience coaching debate competitors of all ages.  A Los Angeles native and avid Dodgers fan, Dr. Kephart received his Masters of Arts and Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from The University of Southern California.

Brett Shanley, MFA - Instructor

Brett Shanley is a writer and English lecturer currently pursuing a PhD at Columbia University in New York City.  Prior to his doctoral work, Brett received his Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing - Nonfiction from The New School in NYC.  In addition to his dissertation research, which looks at methods of promoting sincere engagement between undergraduate writers and the work that they produce, Brett lectures in advanced writing at Pace University.  Brett has been teaching in the classroom and at academic camps since 2012, and it was these experiences that inspired his dissertation topic. He has been an instructor with Education Unlimited since 2014, teaching both creative and academic writing.  

In addition to his advanced degrees, Brett also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology and German from the University of Oregon.  In the rare moments that Brett is not working on his research or teaching, his favorite thing to do is enjoy time in New York City’s famed Central Park with his fiance and their dog Huxley.