High School Program


When students transition into high school, they continue to attend Summer Academy in ninth and tenth grade. Their classes are also academic, but are more project-based and focused on enrichment – classes like marine biology, screen writing, psychology, the history of Durham, and Latinx Studies. In eleventh and twelfth grade, students participate in internships and academic summer camp opportunities in Durham and around the country in order to learn about and pursue their passions.

Summer student enrichment includes:

  • Five-week elective-based academic enrichment program: Our High School Summer Academy is designed to pique our ninth and tenth grade students’ intellectual curiosity while strengthening the skills necessary to succeed in high school.
  • Local, national, or International summer opportunities: Funds are available to eleventh and twelfth grade students to take advantage of these opportunities that range from pre-college programs and athletic camps to art and subject-specific camps.
  • Internship, job and/or volunteer opportunities: Eleventh and twelfth grade students have the opportunity to work with the local community organizations in order to learn about and pursue their passions.
  • Weekly professional development: All High School students participate in weekly professional development to learn skills such as resume writing and interview skills.

During the summer, we are proud to partner with the NCDPI through the USDA Summer Food Services Program to provide healthy meals at no cost to our students. 

School Year

During the school year, high school students are supported by in-school and community Advocates. In-school Advocates are teachers or guidance counselors employed by Durham Public Schools, and community Advocates are people in the community interested in supporting students through their high school experience. Students meet with their Advocates weekly, and students' families and teachers communicate regularly with their Advocates. Students also receive individually tailored academic improvement plans based on their progress. All students and Advocates at each individual high school gather monthly at Cluster meetings to allow students to build college-ready skills and engage with the Student U community. Advocates communicate with program staff regularly and work to connect families to resources when necessary. During the year high school students are also able to connect with small group or one-on-one tutoring twice a week after-school at The W.G. Pearson Center from 6:00 - 8:00 PM.

Year-Round student support includes:

  • Weekly meetings: Students meet with their Advocate weekly to create individually tailored academic improvement plans based on student progress.
  • Monthly Cluster meetings: Students meet monthly to build college-ready skills and build community among their peers.
  • Out-of-school tutoring: Students are provided with tutoring opportunities throughout the year in order to support our students and help them be successful in school.
  • U-Prep Saturdays: Students and parents attend U-Prep days twice a year with the aim to provide interactive workshops for students and families with tips about succeeding in high school and preparing for college.


College Preparation

Over the course of the school year, high school students work closely with Student U’s Associate Director of College Advising and Success. Students are exposed to a wide range of programming designed to help families plan, apply, and pay for college.  Students participate in college tours, monthly College Bound 101 workshops, a college fair, and individual conferences to meet students’ needs.

The earlier curricula for ninth and tenth grade students focus on academic preparation (e.g., learning at Summer Academy, building community service experience/leadership, preparing for standardized tests such as the ACT/SAT), while curricula for eleventh and twelfth grade students focus on the college application process (e.g., writing college essays, choosing the “best fit” college, applying early to a wide range of schools, applying for scholarships/grants, and financing higher education).

College Prep student support:

  • College tours: Students are informed about college applications and enrollment decisions.
  • Monthly College Bound 101 workshops: Students attend workshops to identify colleges that would be the best fit for them, complete all college and scholarship applications and plan their transition to college.
  • College Fair: Students attend to learn more about colleges/universities from across the country to identify best fits for students.
  • Individual Conferences: The Associate Director of College Advising and Success hosts individual conferences to meet students’ needs.
  • Test preparation: Students attend test preparation to prepare students for standardized testing such as the ACT/SAT.

Ready to volunteer with our High School Program?


I can compare each of Student U’s high school graduates to astronauts in training. Graduating high school, like graduating from space school, is not what we are going to be remembered for. Similarly, success at Student U isn’t simply graduating. The success of Student U is truly measured by the impact students are creating outside of the Student U community. Student U will have our own Yuri Gagarin, our own Neil Armstrong, and our own Buzz Aldrin. We will have students who will be the first in the world to do something incredible. We will have students who, like astronauts, will be remembered forever for making their fearless dreams come true.”

– Francis DeLa Cruz, UNC-Chapel Hill School of Nursing Graduate