College First Application

What is College First?

College First is a high-school internship program at the Chicago Botanic Garden. It is a paid, virtual and onsite, internship for six weeks during the summer and monthly meetings during the school year. Students participate in a college level environmental studies course held virtually three days of the week (M,W,F). For two days a week (T,TH) a school bus provides transportation from various designated stops throughout Chicago to bring students to the Garden for onsite learning.

What do students do?

  • Learn about plants, prairies, woods, and other outdoor natural areas
  • Work in horticulture, education, plant research, and more
  • Guided by instructors conduct individual scientific research and present their findings
  • Receive professional development and build career skills
  • Explore colleges and universities to find “best fit”
  • Work with staff and receive support in completing the college application process and securing scholarships
  • Join a growing community of SCC alumni and friends 

When is the 2021 program?

Paid internship: June 28 – August 6, Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Unpaid orientation: June 16
School-year meetings: Once-a-month meetings (usually on school holidays or Saturdays) during the school year—schedule to be determined.

Who can participate?

Students who are currently sophomores or juniors and are enrolled in a Chicago Public School can participate. Students should demonstrate an interest in science and nature as well as the ambition to pursue a college degree. Students and parents must commit to the unpaid orientation, all six weeks of the summer program, and the once-a-month school-year meetings. Students are responsible for getting to and from the designated bus stops. Students are provided with all materials they need to participate, including a laptop loan and WIFI hotspot to use for virtual learning days. 

Students who are from a racial or ethnic background that is underrepresented in the field of science (African American, Latino, and Native American) and who would benefit the most from college and career support (low-income, first generation to attend college) are encouraged to apply.

What do you need to submit to apply?

  1. A completed application form.
  2. A copy of your second-quarter report card (January) OR the most recent one you have. Please do not submit progress reports.  (Do not hold back on submitting your application because you are waiting for a report card. Just submit the most recent one you have to ensure the application is received by the deadline.)
  3. Recommendation form, filled out by a science teacher or community leader (pastor, youth group leader, etc.) who knows you well. It cannot be filled out by someone related to you or a family friend.
  4. Program permission waiver, signed by you and your parent/ guardian.

Apply online (including recommendation form, permission slip with parent signature, and uploaded report card)

To be considered for the program, a complete application must be submitted by April 16, 2021.

It is your responsibility to obtain the report card and all application components, as we do not work with schools to get this information and will not accept it after the deadline. Incomplete applications—those not accompanied by a report card or completed recommendation form—will not be considered. If you have any questions, please email or call Beatriz Cañas at (847) 835-6871 or (847) 849-0488.