College for Kids provides summer programs for local youth


Zach Trueblood

Staff Writer

While the majority of students are away from campus for the summer semester, Parkland doesn’t simply lay dormant. Many classes are still in session while staff and faculty prepare for fall semester. Another program that livens up the campus is College for Kids.

College for Kids is celebrating its 35th anniversary here at Parkland. The program is a way for students to stay active and engaged over the course of the summer. There is a detailed, interactive online catalog that parents and guardians can peruse.

A few examples of some of the courses from the online catalog are Creative Writing, Beginning Chinese, Digital Photography, Decorative Clay Pots and Engineering Medieval Mayhem. There are around 50 different courses being offered at different times throughout the summer.

Many of the faculty, staff and students here at Parkland are former members. One current student, and former College for Kids member, is Abby Vanderkloot. Vanderkloot is a Crop Science Agribusiness major and is transferring to the University of Illinois in the fall semester of this year. She was a participant in College for Kids when she was nine and then again when she was 10.

“I think it is important for kids to be a part of these programs at a younger age because it’s an opportunity to experience different possibilities for the future. It also is a great way to get to know other kids. I also think has lasted so long because it’s an inexpensive way for kids to be active over the summer and also is a great experience,” Vanderkloot said.

College for Kids is coordinated by Jessica Hammie. Hammie works in the Community Education Department of Parkland College on Mattis. She has been coordinating College for Kids for the past four summers. She was able to give insight into what the program is all about.

“College for Kids summer programming provides the opportunity for students who are entering third through eighth grades to explore areas of study and interest in a non-graded, fun filled environment through quality, hands-on experiences,” Hammie explained. “CFK classes provide hands-on exploration in specialized fields such as science, math, language arts, computer science, technology, humanities, and fine arts; offer challenging experiences and intellectual stimulation for students to develop their special interests; and expose students to a learning atmosphere that will motivate them to achieve their highest potential. Classes are small – no more than 16 students – and instructors are regularly able to give attention to each student.”

Educators believe that the development of essential skills starts a young age. Parkland has adopted this principle and has been an active force in shaping the minds of local youth.

Getting the students started young at Parkland makes them more likely to attend college when they’re older, and specifically Parkland. Hammie provided an opinion on why the program is so important and beneficial for both the students and the college.

“College for Kids inspires students to develop a lifetime love of learning and questioning through high-quality summer programming. Classes increase cognitive development and expose children to new cultures, ideas, and experiences,” Hammie added. “All classes meet at Parkland College, which allows elementary and middle school aged children to spend time on a college campus and form an early connection with Parkland. Research has indicated that those students are likely to consider Parkland as an educational option years later.”

The courses offered in College for Kids take place on Parkland’s main campus, which helps students get comfortable with the college setting.

The normal price for a class is $135. There is a reduced tuition option available though.

“Reduced tuition is available for students who receive free or reduced lunch at school. For those who qualify for reduced tuition, the cost is $105. Proof of reduced lunch is required,” the online catalog states.

There are also even some scholarships available that are made possible by the Champaign West Rotaries. Interested parties should email for information about those.

For those interested in signing a child up for a College for Kids course, online credit card payments can be made at The catalog can also be accessed from that site. Registration can also be done in person or mail by bringing in the completed form or mailing it to College for Kids, Parkland College on Mattis, 1315 N. Mattis Avenue, Champaign, IL 61821-1818.