When & Where

The W&M Pre-College Program in Early American History lasts for 3 full weeks, beginning on a Sunday afternoon and ending early on a Saturday morning.  NIAHD offers two sessions each summer.  The sessions are identical in their course offerings and curriculums. 

Sessions for 2018
Session 1: June 24 – July 14, 2018

Session 2: July 15 – August 4, 2018

All participants are expected to attend each and every day of the program.  Arriving late or departing early for any reason may have an adverse affect on the student’s final grade and make acclimating to a new environment that much more difficult.  Students should only apply to the session that their personal schedules allow them to attend.

During the program, students will live, sleep, and study on the main campus at the College of William & Mary.  All Pre-College Students will be housed together in a dorm that is only accessible to Pre-College students and staff. 

Course Offerings

NIAHD offers two courses each summer.  Both courses are offered during both sessions.  Students choose their preferred course when they apply.

HIST 217: Jamestown thru the American Revolution

HIST 217 begins where the old world societies of Europe and Africa collided with the new world societies of Native Americans on the banks of the nearby James River early in the seventeenth century and follows the American saga for nearly two hundred years through the Revolutionary Era at the end of the eighteenth century.

HIST 218: The American Revolution thru the Civil War

HIST 218 picks up with the American victory at nearby Yorktown during the struggle for independence and continues the story through the fall of the Confederate capital at Richmond to Union forces in 1865.

Challenging Curriculum

The courses offered to Pre-College Students are the same courses offered to W&M freshmen.  In order to offer these courses NIAHD has condensed a 15-week semester into just 3 weeks.  We hold Pre-College students to the same high standard as all W&M students and consistently challenge them to produce their best work.  It is an academically rigorous program.

Students can expect to:
  • Travel 5 days a week to tour historic sites
  • Participate in class discussions with a maximum of 12 students
  • Read 30-60 pages of college-level articles and primary source documents each night
  • Write 3 analytical essays (1 per week)
Physical Demands

Students will go on field trips and attend class discussions 5 days a week.  They will also have to manage a busy schedule consisting of evening programs, extracurricular activities, lengthy reading assignments, and social events.  Being well-rested and well-nourished is a key component to staying focused and healthy during the program.

The climate in Virginia during the summer is hot and humid.  The heat index during the day when students are on site visits is typically above 100F (38C).  Many site visits will be outdoors or inside old buildings that have no air-conditioning.  We will provide chilled bottles of water and do our best to utilize shaded areas whenever possible.  However, students should expect to be outdoors frequently and should come prepared to withstand the heat and humidity.

Recreational Activities

Academics are paramount but NIAHD recognizes that students also need to have time to engage in recreational activities.  NIAHD’s Residential Program Assistants (RPAs) will organize sporting events, games, and social activities in the evenings and on the weekends to help students relax and unwind.  It’s a great way to bond with your fellow pre-college peers. 

Have you own idea for a group activity that everyone can enjoy?  Let your RPA know and they can help you organize it!

Unique Opportunities
Hands-On Archaeology Field Experience

On Saturday mornings, students have the option of participating in an active archaeological dig at Fairfield Plantation in Gloucester, Virginia.  This is a truly unique and rare opportunity that no student should pass up.

Working alongside professional archaeologists, Dr. Dave Brown and Thane Harpole, students will shovel, sift, and trowel through the dirt to uncover real artifacts left behind more than 150 years ago.  Pre-College students in summer’s past have found belt buckles, nails, buttons, ceramics, and glass.  Obviously, the artifacts are not for the taking, but the experience will last a lifetime.


English Country Dance Lessons
Each summer NIAHD teams up with the Williamsburg Heritage Dancers to offer students private group lessons in the distinguished art of English Country Dancing.  Students do not need any prior dance experience to participate.  NIAHD’s dance instructor starts with the basics and will have students walking and skipping through their first English country dance within minutes.