Whenever I get people asking about what I'm doing for the summer, upon explaining CSP, it always gets labeled as "school". Which, I guess from an outsider perspective, it is. You take classes, write essays and do math problems, maybe have an occasional test or quiz. But from within, it's such a weird way to describe what CSP is. I never think of it as "school" until people give it that name.
I think the difference comes in the motivation. In school, I'm around 2,200+ students who are not all completely sure the direction they want to go after high school. In CSP, one thing we can all be sure about is we're going to college. That's the main goal. Education is important to everyone. When I hear "school", I associate it with somewhere where people have to be, rather than always want to be. When I hear "CSP classes", it's exactly the opposite. The way the program is designed, it seems impossible to be a part of it without the individual's full commitment.
There's also a difference in the classes themselves. My professors are used to a college environment and bring that to us as future college students. I'm introduced to concepts like Office Hours, and Teaching Assistants, and classes based heavily off of reading. In one of my classes, the textbook we're using was introduced as one the teacher wrote herself. This doesn't even compare to just "school".
And yet explaining that to people is often really hard. Outsiders seem to think I'm "giving up my summer" for this program. I see it getting something more out of my summer.
Sabrina Sawyer, CSP Class of 2016