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Illini Summer Academies lets high school youth give college a spin

Deciding whether and where to go to college is a big decision. Illinois 4-H offers a 4-day college experience to help youth begin to make those decision. Illini Summer Academies runs June 26-29 on the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus.

The conference is open to all youth who will be at least 14 years old by Sept. 1 and have completed at least 8th grade. One may register online at

Youth select one of 16 different fields of study, including aerospace engineering, ag business, ag mechanization, animal science, anthropology, astrobiology, chemistry, computer science, creative writing, digital fabrication, electrical and computer engineering, entomology, human development and family studies, molecular and cellular biology, plant science, and vet medicine.

Delegate spend 17 hours of academy instruction with university staff. The rest of the time will be spent in chaperoned exploration of U of I’s campus, including popular eating places, the student union, the quad, and campus recreation facilities.

Workshops and tours will also be held for parents and guardians both before and after the conference. Workshops will help families navigate the registration and financial aid maze. Tours will include the engineering campus and the ag campus, as well as the sports complexes, campus libraries and on-campus housing options.

Cost for the conference is different for each academy and ranges from $200 to $420. Financial assistance through the Illinois 4-H Foundation helps offset the cost of the conference. Donors include DuPont/Pioneer, Farm Credit Illinois, NASA, the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, and the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center.

Registration is accepted on a first come, first serve basis, and space may reach capacity before the May 15 deadline. Delegates are encouraged to apply early.

“Illinois 4-H is committed to preparing and empowering youth for success,” said Lisa Diaz, assistant dean and director of Illinois 4-H. “Illini Summer Academies provides youth a chance to dig a little deeper into careers they may be considering for their future.”

4-H is the youth development program of University of Illinois Extension. Associate Dean and Director George Czapar said the summer conference showcases the state’s land grant university. “We know that many youth who attend Illini Summer Academies often return here as college students,” Czapar said. “We want U of I to be their top educational choice and work hard during the conference to highlight all the unique attributes of this great university.”