Back in April 1972, the legendary American rock band Alice Cooper struck a chord with young people eagerly awaiting several months of recess. “School’s Out” became an instant hit and anthem for students dreaming of a warm-weather break from teachers, books, exams and grades.

Yet for more than 60 years, school’s been decidedly “in” at Syracuse University through its Summer College program for motivated high school learners from across the globe.

“Access to college is an important part of the mission of the College of Professional Studies,” says Dean Michael Frasciello. “While we are well known for assisting non-traditional students with their higher education goals, the College remains committed to providing a transformational introductory experience to university life, including academics and on-campus living.”

Now that summer is over and the regular school year rhythm has begun, Christopher Cofer, executive director of Pre-College Programs, reflects on 2023 and prepares for the coming months.

For the first time in six decades, Summer College in 2020 and 2021 were offered online only, due to the pandemic; enrollment for both sessions exceeded 800. Total enrollment across all programs in 2022 was just over 1,000 and close to 1,200 in 2023.

Ironically, the pandemic provided the College with opportunities to diversify and expand programming. “We enhanced our summer portfolio by adding a hybrid program that offered study full time on campus for two weeks, followed by course completion online for four additional weeks,” says Cofer.

The College also added commuter courses at Syracuse University in Los Angeles and the Fisher Center in New York City. A Research Immersion Program was launched, providing pre-college students with the ability to work with faculty in their labs. Finally, Summer College was re-branded as the Office of Pre-College Programs. “We began an Accelerated Semester Online, allowing pre-college students to enroll for eight-week online courses in the fall and spring through the College of Professional Studies,” Cofer says.

The College plays a major role in expanding Syracuse University’s global presence, with Summer College attracting students on-campus from 35 U.S. states and Puerto Rico, as well as from 25 nations around the world.

As enhancing as the Summer College experience may be, tuition can present obstacles for many students. This year, the University provided partial need and merit-based scholarships to more than 150 students, with more than 300 attending Summer College at no cost to them or their parents though partnerships Cofer has established with more than 30 schools, organizations, and foundations across the country. An additional 200 students took advantage of one of the College’s many 20 percent or 50 percent discount offers.

While many students from private and suburban schools take advantage of Summer College, access for City of Syracuse district (SCSD) high schoolers has been prohibitive due to cost. In summer of 2020, the city schools committed funds, along with donations from private individuals and organizations. Post-pandemic, Summer College returned to campus with an increasing number of SCSD students: 17 in year one, 31 in year two and 35 during 2023. “We are especially grateful to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, IBEW Local 43 in Syracuse, for the $20,000 in funds they provided in 2023,” says Frasciello.

Harkening back to Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” invocation of years ago, students today may not be as eager to sing that song as they once were. “Syracuse University’s Summer College program provides as close as a high school student can get to a college-like experience while still being in high school,” says Cofer. He also points to the more than 100 credit and noncredit course offerings from 10 of the University’s schools and colleges, including unique subjects like Astro-Bioengineering: Searching for the Limit of Life; InstaFamous 101: Creating and Maintaining a Social Media Empire; and Movies and the Meaning of Life among those more commonly known, such as Introduction to Sociology.

The 1972 billboard hit’s lyrics proclaimed, “Well, we got no choice, all the girls and boys…making all that noise, ‘cause they found new toys.” Some 50 years later, the new toys of summer for high schoolers may just well be cool new courses at Syracuse University.

Are you interested in helping to provide a meaningful summer social and academic experience for a young person at the College of Professional Studies? Learn more by contacting Executive Director, Post Traditional Advancement, Jeffry Comanici, ’88, MPA ’23, at 315.443.1409 or

Story by Cheryl Abrams