After college students have moved out of their dorms and professors have locked up their offices, you might think that campuses find quiet moments of peace. That isn’t the case.
Many colleges use their campuses to host summer conferences, weddings, and special programs to help bolster their reputations or make extra money.
Here is a look at some of the interesting goings-on.
Endicott: Love is in the air
Endicott College in Beverly is bustling with activity during summer weekends, and love is in the air. From Labor Day through Columbus Day, the college hosts three weddings per weekend, averaging about 57 per season, according to Kelsey O’Keefe, event sales manager for weddings and social events at Misselwood, an event space at Endicott that offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean.
“Couples hear from us from word of mouth [and] are local to the community,” O’Keefe said. Many Endicott alumni and employees also take advantage of the romantic setting.
Anthony Donaldson, assistant vice president of communications and marketing at Endicott, said weddings at Misselwood Events and Tupper Manor at the Wylie Center, another on-campus space, brought in nearly $4 million in revenue for the college. The revenue, Donaldson said, helped the college function during the pandemic.
“Just knowing that we have that revenue stream coming in and had that revenue to fall back on once the pandemic hit enabled us to be a bit more nimble and pivot, especially when we compare ourselves to peer institutions that didn’t have the large endowment that they could dip into,” he said.
Students at Endicott that study hospitality gain real-world experience by working the weddings, which come with catering, tables and chairs, and a liquor license.
Unschool at Hampshire
Hampshire College in Amherst hosts a variety of conferences and events over the summer to make extra money. Befitting Hampshire’s liberal, free-ideas vibe, it hosts events such as a live-action role playing and martial arts camp, a contemplative dance retreat, and the Northeast Unschooling Conference. (This is not a typo.)
Unschooling is “not just an educational philosophy, but a life philosophy that is all about youth autonomy,” said Skyler DuPont, an advisory board member of the Unschooling Conference.
Unschoolers tend to not have tests, grades, or specific academic metrics, Dupont said. Instead, “it’s all about the sort of attachment parenting, peaceful parenting style, and really allowing young people to pursue what they’re interested in and live with autonomy and freedom.”
For 15 years, the conference was held in a hotel outside of Boston, but it was later found to be expensive. DuPont, who graduated from Hampshire in 2019, felt the campus would be a great fit to host the annual event.
“Hampshire is a test-free, grade-free, open academic environment that really encourages self-direction and exploration,” DuPont said. “It made sense for our conference to be there.”
Having the event at Hampshire also allows students to explore what an unschooling college might look like for them, they said, because the students sleep in dorm rooms, use the dining hall, and attend lectures and panels in classrooms.
The conference pays about $3,000 to use the space, in addition to charges for the dorm rooms. Participants have 24-hour access to spaces, which DuPont said was important to attendees.
“We have hanging out time in the evening, people just kind of being in community with each other,” Dupont said. “It’s a pretty radical philosophy.”
If unschooling doesn’t feel like your thing, you can always enroll your child in a coding camp at Boston College — as long as they’re between 4 and 7 years old.
DevTech Research, led by Boston College professor Marina Bers, has two in-person summer sessions on campus for children entering kindergarten, first, and second grade, costing $100.
The program, Bers said, provides “opportunities for children to come and get a taste for a week of what it’s like to create programming projects and tell stories through animation.”
Bers and her research team, composed of undergraduate and graduate students, as well as high school interns, works to teach children about the “technological playground.”
“Today children live immersed in a world of technology,” Bers said. “Technology is all around us. We are surrounded by censors, we are surrounded by electronics, we are surrounded by artificial intelligence. Our children need to be able to understand from a young age what technology and computational thinking is.”
At the end of the week, parents get the opportunity in an open house to see what their children have learned. Parents can also enlist their children to participate in further research with the lab.
“It’s a way for us to educate parents on what a playground looks like so they can make decisions about new technologies and decide what to bring into their home,” Bers said.
Babson College in Wellesley hosts a program to build on its buzzy reputation in the business community.
The summer venture program, which started in 2009, is a free program that works with both undergraduate and graduate student entrepreneurs from Babson, Wellesley College, and F.W. Olin College of Engineering to pitch and develop business ideas.
“It’s never a static program, it’s never a copy-and-paste program from year to year,” said Alexandra Dunk, associate director of entrepreneur programs and engagement at the Arthur M. Blank Center of Entrepreneurship at Babson.
Students apply in March with a written application, and a select number are invited to do in-person interviews. Each year, 15 teams are chosen for the 10-week program, in which they get to work with business leaders and Babson community members. Past alumni of the group include the companies DARTdrones, DetraPel, and Mighty Well.
“We tweak the workshops, we tweak the sessions we create, we bring in more experts and speakers based on business needs,” Dunk said. “We consider it a very tailored program.”
Clark’s Coding Camp
If building a business from the ground up isn’t your thing, try creating a video game from scratch at Clark University in Worcester. The university offers a two-week coding intensive for juniors and seniors in high school for $4,200.
This year, the program has 21 participants, a dramatic increase from nine campers in the summer of 2022. Sessions are taught by Clark faculty members, said Donald L. Desrochers, the camp’s program director.
“Students are allowed to really get a sense of what life would be like in the industry,” he said. “It’s a two-week crash course.”
Campers get into teams to conceptualize and build a video game from start to finish, serving as designers, coders, artists, musicians, and program managers, he said. Students create 2D games in the style of the original Mario Brothers and Flappy Bird, for example.
While coding, participants live at Clark University and get a “taste of the college experience,” Desrochers said. It’s also proved to be a good advertisement for the university — six out of last year’s nine campers will be starting as first years at Clark this coming fall.
“This program, it really mimics the Clark curriculum, and it’s done that way by design because it’s really unique,” he said. “We tend to see students that are highly motivated and really eager to understand what this is like.”