The Learning Experience

The Learning Experience

Uncovering the “Hidden Curriculum”

Thriving in college requires more than academic skill. The College Transition Program deepens students’ understanding of how to make informed choices about choosing a major, locating resources for classes, finding mentors, pursuing internships, and forging a career path. First-generation college students often have not had the opportunity to develop “social capital” – networks of shared understandings and values that offer access to knowledge and resources for navigating college and life beyond. Using an inductive approach, the program learning experiences are designed to facilitate students’ development of social capital and to equip them with skills that transfer to life beyond college. 

STEM Tours Broadening awareness and understanding of STEM professions is a core element of the six-week summer experience. Students venture out to local businesses and institutions to explore STEM careers firsthand. Weekly discussions with professionals possessing expertise in tech, healthcare, biosciences, and engineering provide students with a window of what it takes to embark on a STEM education and career trajectory. 

Case Studies 

Using the case study method, students engage in civil debate to explore topics including confronting imposter syndrome, navigating familial expectations, responding to academic setbacks, and effectively exchanging ideas across lines of difference. 

Workshops 

Students receive mental health strategies and support through workshops with a licensed therapist. During the Financial Literacy workshop, students engage in storytelling, navigate questions of identity, interrogate the narratives they hold about money, gain knowledge about the financial aid process and deepen their money management skills.  

Inquiry Project 

Working in small groups to research an ethical issue in STEM, the inquiry project provides students with an opportunity to manage the types of academic and social challenges often encountered in colleges such as goal setting, study skills, time management, collaboration, self-advocacy, and research skills. 


Learning Principals

Our curriculum is informed by our beliefs about learning. At WPS, we believe that learners:

  • Learn by puzzling through problems and drawing their own conclusions rather than be given information through lectures.
  • Learn by actively engaging in civil debate and exchange of ideas with peers. Learning involves interrogating one’s own perspectives and assumptions in light of what others think/believe.
  • Learn by focusing on the metacognitive level so learners go beyond the experience to reflect on it’s meaning to transform ideas and theories into action.

“I am committed to being more of a leader in the classroom in the sense that I am more fearless with my contributions in class, whether they are in the form of questions, answers, opinions, or arguments.”

STUDENT, CTP – SUMMER 2020


Learning ThemeGuiding Questions
 STEM  OpportunitiesQ: How should I plan my college study and internship opportunities to prepare for entering a STEM career? 
Q: How do my interests and skills align with different career pathways in STEM? 
Mental & Social-Emotional Health Q: How do I cultivate personal practices that help me thrive emotionally and mentally?  How will I build my own community to support my social and emotional needs and ultimately feel connected to my peers and college community? 
Academic and Professional Success Q: How am I getting what I need to persist in college academically, personally, and professionally? What resources do I have access to when I get to college and how do I advocate for what I need? 
Financial Literacy Q: What beliefs do I hold about money? How do I have greater agency over my financial decisions? How will I/my family afford college? What habits do I need to develop in college that will help me post-graduation?  

WPS · 196 Herrick Rd. · Newton, MA · 02459 · info@wpsinstitute.org