Would you believe that a lot of college students today are four years old? Experts say that a skyrocketing number of kindergarteners are taking college classes in everything from music to architecture. In fact, applications this year doubled for the children’s engineering program at North Carolina State University, and over a thousand children recently applied to the University of Virginia’s kids program. Colleges everywhere are scrambling to create kid-friendly courses to keep up with the huge demand.

So, why are campuses catering to the playground set? Because cash-strapped schools got hammered during the recession, and donations from alums are at record lows - which schools count on to pad their bottom line. So, schools are desperate for more income, and they’ve been offering classes for high school students for years. So they figured why not reach an even bigger pool of potential students and offer classes to even younger kids. So what do kids learn? Well, a class for 6th graders at Boston College will teach hands-on science and engineering, like bridge building and developing computer games.

Experts say that children’s classes are a huge moneymaker, because schools can hire graduate students to teach them, who charge a whole lot less than full-time faculty. Parents love it because they think it’ll give their kids an academic edge. Critics warn parents not to celebrate the future Class of 2027 just yet, because kids’ college programs are more summer camp than college prep. After all, most 4-year olds are just learning to read and write. Unless students are in high school, they typically don’t earn any credit. Experts all agree on one big benefit of kids attending college courses. It means they’re spending their summer boosting their brainpower instead of zoning out playing videogames.