For most of our students, Summer at Columbia represents their first college experience, and for many it's also their first extended stay away from home. We know that students have lots of questions about the day-to-day life during Summer at Columbia, and parents and guardians have plenty of concerns about sending their child away from home for the first time.

This Frequently Asked Questions section will be continually updated to provide answers to common questions we receive from both students and parents. Please check here first for answers to common questions, but if you don't see an answer for your specific question or concern, feel free to email your question to us at summer@colum.edu.


Is this an open enrollment program? 
While Summer at Columbia is an open enrollment program - which is to say that a student is accepted by registering - each track centers around an accredited, transferrable Columbia College Chicago course, and students are graded on the learning outcomes of this course. Fortunately, the program is built so that the various enrichment activities support and enhance the coursework. We leave it to parents and guardians to determine if their high schooler is ready for the program. 

What are the age requirements?
Summer at Columbia is designed for high school students who are entering their senior or junior year the following fall. Rising sophomores may also attend but they must be capable of working at the college level.

How do grades and credits work? 
The grades that Summer at Columbia students receive becomes part of their official college transcript, and grade reports are available online and mailed home at the conclusion of the program, in early Fall. All students are required to sign a FERPA waiver, that allows us to communicate with parents and guardians about their teen's progress in the program, if necessary. 

What is FERPA? 
FERPA is the Federal Education Records Privacy Act, and it applies to all accredited college courses, including those offered during the Summer at Columbia program. Click here for more information. about FERPA. 

How will I know the daily schedule? 
Prior to the start of the Summer at Columbia program, all students and parents/guardians will get access to a Google Calendar that shows a comprehensive daily schedule of activities. This calendar is NOT posted publicly or printed out, but is viewable by invitation only to program participants online or on the Google Calendar smartphone app. Click here for an example of a typical day during last summer's Summer at Columbia program. 

What if I need to miss a class? 
Class attendance is a requirement of the program, and failure to attend can negatively impact a student's grade. Absences need to be communicated ahead of time to the faculty mentor. 


Does my teen have to live on campus for the Summer at Columbia program? 
While living on campus is not strictly required, we strongly recommend it, unless you have daily and easy access to Columbia College Chicago's campus. Courses take place on campus, but industry-specific events and field trips take place in and around the city, during the week and on weekends. Students are more likely to get an authentic college experience by being a resident in the program, and benefiting from the sense of community that comes from living among like-minded peers. 

How many roommates will my teen have? 
Students have an average of three roommates for a total of four students per suite.

How and when are roommates assigned? 
Room assignments are made by Columbia College Chicago's Residence Life team and roommate contact information will be shared with students prior to the program start.

Should my teen bring any spending money?  
Yes, and we recommend having it in the form of a debit or credit card. The costs for required activities like classes, enrichment field trips, and community events are provided by Columbia College Chicago but there is opportunity for shopping, small group activities, eating out, and exploring around the City of Chicago, especially in the evenings and on weekends. 

How many meals are provided? 
A 15-meal per week plan is included for residential students and can be used in the dining hall at the student’s discretion throughout the week. There are also kitchens on each floor of the dorm, grocery stores, several diverse and reasonably-priced places to eat in the neighborhood, and online food delivery services like Grubhub. 

Can I visit my child or take them out when they are living in the dorms?
Because students are only together for three short weeks, we strongly encourage that time be spent connecting with the peers, Columbia, and the City of Chicago. However, students are responsible for creating an experience that is most impactful for them which may mean spending time with friends and family outside of Columbia. In these instances, students must communicate their plans with RAs and return prior to curfew.

Overnight leave
Residential students are expected to remain on campus overnight for the duration of the program. If it’s absolutely necessary that a residential student require overnight leave, his or her guardian must complete the Overnight Leave Permission Form and submit to summer@colum.edu 24-business hours prior to the student’s departure from campus. Calls, emails without the completed form attached, student notifications to staff, or in-person notifications to staff cannot be accepted. Overnight Leave Permission Forms cannot be used as curfew extensions.

When do I move into and out of the dorms?
Move-in is Sunday, July 7, 2019 from 9:00am - 1:00pm. Move-out begins Friday, July 26, 2019 starting at 5:00pm and continues until 12:00 noon on Saturday, July 26, 2019. Students must arrive and depart within these windows.


I'm a commuter student. What is the best way to get to campus each day?
Whenever possible, we recommend commuter students use public transportation to get to our campus. Columbia College Chicago is an urban campus in the heart of downtown Chicago. As such, we have access to excellent public transportation systems including CTA trains and buses, as well as being located reasonably close to the two main Metra stations, Union Station and Ogilvie Transportation center.

I'm a commuter student and need to drive. Is there parking on campus?
Columbia does not have its own parking lot but there are plenty of pay lots and metered street spots throughout our campus. If driving, prepare for traffic delays and allow plenty of time to commute and park.

I'm a commuter student, where do I go each day and when do I need to be there?
All Summer at Columbia students depart from the lobby of University Center for class. Commuters should plan to arrive at University Center no later than 8:30am each weekday. Required enrichment activities often occur in the afternoons and evening on weekdays but there may also be one or two on the weekends. Students will be notified of these events prior to the program start so they can plan accordingly. Optional events will also happen throughout the program and these will be shared with students as details are available.

I will be a residential student. What do I need to know about transportation to and from campus on move-in and move-out days?
Students are responsible for their own transportation to and from campus on move-in and move-out days. Columbia is conveniently located near CTA lines that serve Chicago’s main transportation hubs and is accessible by taxis and ride share services (Uber, Lyft, etc.)

I'm flying into Chicago to attend Summer at Columbia. What do I need to know?

  • Purchase a refundable ticket. This is a helpful precaution in the event you are no longer able to attend the program, or a cohort must be canceled due to unforeseen circumstances and you select not to enroll in an alternate course. Costs associated with travel to and from Summer at Columbia will not be reimbursed.

  • Allow plenty of time to travel to and from the airports. It can take upwards of an hour and half in heavy traffic.

  • Select a return flight that leaves later in the evening Friday or wait and leave on Saturday morning. Students will be in class until noon on the final Friday of the program and will likely require additional time before leaving to ensure they have all items packed and their rooms are clean and prepped for check-out. All students must be completely moved out of the dorms by 12:00pm, Saturday, July 27.


Will my teen be supervised at all times? 
Student safety is the number one priority at Summer at Columbia. That being said, Summer at Columbia is also an opportunity for students to start developing independence and a sense of responsibility within a college and urban environment. Flex time will occur occasionally for students to work on special projects, attend staff-led optional events, or free explore the South Loop and Loop areas independent of immediate supervision. High school students attending Summer at Columbia are…

  • Required to adhere to curfews;

  • Strongly advised not to explore alone;

  • Asked to notify their assigned Resident Associate of their plans, including expected return times;

  • Not permitted on public transportation without staff and;

  • Asked to remain within a specific area in order for program staff or campus security to assist them in an emergency. The boundary spans to the interior of Lake Shore Drive, down to Roosevelt Road, west to Clark Street, and north to the interior of the Loop. A detailed map will be given on the first day of the program and reviewed with students by staff.

Is there a curfew?  
Yes. Curfew for Summer at Columbia is 7:30pm on weekdays and 8:00pm on weekends unless attending a staff hosted event. Students must be in the dorm by these times. No exceptions. Failure to do so will result in immediate notification to guardians and/or expulsion from the program.

Where will Summer at Columbia students be living? 
Summer at Columbia students reside in the University Center Residence Hall, located in the South Loop neighborhood in Downtown Chicago. The UC is in close proximity to all campus facilities and a 15-20 minute walk from any point within the recommended boundary. 

Who is staying with my high schooler in the residence hall? 
The Summer at Columbia Residential Team, which includes a Community Supervisor and a number of Resident Associates, resides onsite at University Center. There is also 24-hour security detail at the main entrance and security cameras throughout the building.

What do you do to ensure the safety of Summer at Columbia Students while they are on campus? 
Campus buildings are staffed with fully licensed and vetted security guards during hours of operation, which is 24-hours/day in the case of University Center. A Columbia College ID must be presented to gain admittance to any college building during the summer months. Students will also be assigned a Resident Associate and Student Mentor whose main responsibilities are to ensure their cohort of students is safe and supported at all times. We also recommend guardians discuss their own behavioral expectations with their students prior to arrival.

Do students get a Columbia College Chicago ID? 
Yes, all Summer at Columbia students get a photo ID on the first two days of the program. Columbia student IDs provide full access to campus buildings and can often be used for discounts in the neighborhood. More information on Columbia ID discounts will be provided to students upon arrival.

How do you collect emergency medical and contact information?
We partner with the ePACT Network to collect signed waivers and comprehensive medical and emergency contact information for all students. ePACT is a free, secure, and HIPAA compliant online system. Through ePACT, program staff have access to student emergency information via a smartphone app, so no matter where we are, we can ensure that we have immediate access to all your teen’s vital information through a completely secure and private system. Invitations to join the ePACT Network will be sent out to all registrants several weeks prior to the start of the program. Completion of ePACT is REQUIRED in order to attend Summer at Columbia.

I still have more questions. What should I do? 
Please send an email to summer@colum.edu and we will get back to you within the day. 


Is there a deadline to register?
Summer at Columbia is an open registration program but space is limited and registration will close once capacity is reached for a specific cohort. Additional deadlines include…

  • April 15, 2019 - Guaranteed housing deadline. Students interested in living at University Center must register for the residential option by this day. Requests for rooms after that time will be granted based on availability and a first-come, first-serve basis.

  • May 15, 2019 - Regular registration deadline. If needed, cohort cancellations due to low enrollment will be made shortly after this date.

  • June 15, 2019 - Final registration deadline for available openings.

How much do I have to pay when I register?
A $500 deposit is required per student at the time of registration. You may also opt to pay in full at the time of registration if you prefer. If you do not pay in full, we require a credit or debit card be kept on file which we will charge automatically on a monthly basis according to the future payment due dates indicated below.

How and when do I pay the remaining balance? 
After registering and paying the deposit, the total tuition amount due will be broken up into 4 payments and automatically charged to your credit or debit card. Charges will be made on the 5th of each month starting on March 5, 2019, and ending on June 5, 2019. 25% of the total tuition amount will be charged each month. 

If you register after the first payment date of March 5, 2019, you will be required to pay the $500 deposit and the remaining amount due will be split into 3 payments rather than 4 payments as per above. If you register after the second payment date of April 5, you will be required to pay the $500 deposit and the remaining amount due will be split into 2 payments rather than 4 payments as per above. Registrations after May 5 will pay 50% of the total tuition, with the remaining balance due on June 5. Registrations after June 5 are required to pay the full amount at the time of registration.

What if I register after the final payment due date of June 5, 2019? 
Registration after the final due date of June 5, 2019, will require payment in full at the time of registration.

What about refunds? 
A full refund of all funds paid, minus a $50 withdrawal fee, will be granted for all cancellations requested before March 1, 2019. Cancellation requests made after March 1, 2019, but before May 1, 2019, will forfeit the $500 deposit, but will receive a refund of any additional tuition paid to date.

Cancellation requests made after May 1, 2019 will not be honored, and the full tuition due will still be required.

What happens if registration fills up? 
In the event that registration is full for the class you prefer, you may opt to be placed on a waiting list via our registration system. If a student withdraws from the class, the next person on the waiting list will be notified and given the opportunity to register.

Can I pay for Summer at Columbia with my college savings 529 plan?
We recommend consulting with a financial advisor before using funds from your 529 plan to pay for Summer at Columbia. Since the tuition for the program is all inclusive, and includes costs that are not directly tied to for-credit tuition, it may be difficult to justify using your 529 plan funds for Summer at Columbia in the event you are audited.

Do you accept state or federal financial aid?
Sorry, we do not accept payment via government-sponsored financial aid programs. Although your student is receiving college credit for Summer at Columbia, due to the unique nature of the program we cannot accept outside financial aid at this time. Please see our How to Register page for details about need-based financial aid that we offer through our Office of Continuing and Community Education. Please note that financial aid is only through April 15, 2019.

Can a third-party, like another family member, a church, or an organization pay for my child's tuition? Yes. Please let us know in advance that your child has a scholarship or sponsor that will be providing payment for their tuition so that we can adjust our records. Otherwise, all payment policies are the same for third-party payment as for direct payment.

Can you send us a bill or an invoice for us to pay later?
Billing and/or invoicing is not available at this time. All payment for the program must abide by the processes outlined above.

Are there additional registration policies and procedures I should know about? 
For detailed information, please refer to the standard Registration Policies & Procedures document below for all programs offered through Columbia College Chicago's Office of Continuing and Community Education.

Registration Policies and Procedures