High School Seminars

Each year since 1959, Colgate has given area high school students a taste of the college experience. Faculty and administrators teach four sessions, meeting for three classes each, during the academic year.

The university’s mission is to provide a demanding, expansive educational experience to a select group of diverse, talented, intellectually sophisticated students who are capable of challenging themselves, their peers, and their teachers in a setting that brings together living and learning.

The mission of the High School Seminar Program is to use Colgate’s resources to benefit the region by introducing area high school students to college-level topics that are not available at their schools and to encourage college attendance by providing them with the opportunity to experience a taste of life on a college campus.

Daily schedule

Arrival: Buses unload students at Merrill House at approximately 3:45 p.m.
Classes begin: 4:00 p.m.
Dinner break: 5:00 - 5:45 p.m.
Classes resume: 5:50 - 6:30 p.m.
Departure: 6:30 p.m. Students board buses at campus safety office

High School Seminar dates for Fall Session II

  • Wednesday, November 1
  • Wednesday, November 8
  • Wednesday, November 15
  • Alternative Weather Date: Wednesday, November 29

Please email ramann@colgate.edu with any questions.

Current Course Descriptions

Esther Rosbrook, Director of the ALANA Cultural Center, Colgate University

Join us to understand your potential to confidently navigate social life, build lasting connections, and create fulfilling friendships with people from different backgrounds. As a group, participants will learn the concepts and practical skills related to Emotional Intelligence and self-awareness, building connections beyond face-to-face interactions, social dynamics, and effective communication - all fundamental to thriving socially.

Lyosha Gorshkov, Director of LGBTQ+ Initiatives 

In this course we will focus on three historic events of the 20th century that have changed the world and its perception of freedom. We will explore the politics of totalitarianism (Nazi and Soviet regimes); emancipatory movements (youth subcultures; civil rights, feminist, student and LGBTQ+); and the collapse of the Soviet Union/the end of "Cold War ''.  During this course students will learn the difference between the freedom from and freedom for; and discover unconventional quarters of world history hidden in the complicated political labyrinths. Buckle up, it will be a fantastic ride back to the future!

Stephen Elfenbein, Alcohol & Drug Services Counselor

Students in this course will have the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills around multiple dimensions of health, examining not only individual factors but social, institutional, and community contributors. We will investigate contemporary and historical information on the common drivers and challenges to holistic wellness including American culture as it relates to alcohol and other drugs. Considering Viktor Frankl's theories on the search for meaning, students will discuss and develop coping mechanisms for difficult situations that they can take with them outside the classroom.   


Alexandra Grimm, Outreach & Engagement Librarian; Asst. Professor in the University Libraries

In this class, students will study the basic craft elements of fiction including plot, epiphany, dialogue, structure, and point of view. We will also touch upon the procedural elements of storytelling, with particular attention to the process(es) of revision and peer review. Class time will be spent reading and discussing published short stores; writing individually and with others, and offering feedback on classmates' written work in pairs and small groups. 

Kara Rusch, DJ/Artist/Music Critic

An introduction to basic drawing for students interested in learning how to draw or just wanting to improve their skills. This course will cover different drawing techniques and styles in a series of exercises designed to help you draw what you see as well as figure out when to add special touches to create a masterpiece as your own. Class is open to all skill levels. Basic supplies will be provided.

Heidi Riley, Director of Outdoor Education, Colgate University

Have you ever wanted to climb a wall like Spiderman? Take this course and learn how to tie knots, use ropes to belay (hold) other climbers and move up the wall using good technique. At the end, you'll know what rock climbing is really like - not just how it is in the movies or on social media. This class guarantees great fun and that you will be hungry for dinner!*

*students in this class will not eat at the regular time, they will meet at the climbing wall, climb for 1.5 hours and eat afterwards.