As we approach spring, it's a wise idea to start thinking ahead to the summer. After all the uncertainty of the past two years, students and parents are ready for an escape. That's why many students opt for summer programs at universities or outside organizations to spend a few weeks away, take a class and be immersed in campus life. Many choose this option because they think it will give them an advantage on their college applications.
While many of these programs promise academic enrichment and a competitive environment, it is important to consider that the cost of such a program might not correspond to its "admission value." One determining factor is whether the program is run by a college or by an outside organization. Although some outside organizations may have fine programs, it is smart to try and assess that. No matter what, there is nearly universal agreement that these programs are only valuable if the student sees and learns something they will take with them, but rarely will it mean a leg up to get into that college from an admissions perspective.
First of all, these programs may be a lot less competitive than they seem, mostly because of their price. This means that only a specific group of high-income students with varying academic performance will be able to have access to these programs. This makes them generally lacking in diversity from the college admissions office perspective which maybe a key factor in their decision process. In other words, it may not measure up in their holistic review. And at the end of the day, a student who does a summer program is not necessarily on higher standing than a student with a consistent summer job.
But when considering whether to apply for a summer program, you should think about your values. Are they to develop more responsibility or to develop a specific academic skill? For students with specific interests that require outside coursework, a summer program can be the right choice. Students studying language, for example, can greatly benefit from summer language immersion classes. Similarly, students wishing to learn coding or another new skill in an intensive setting might seek out this kind of program. There are also specific internship programs that can give students valuable, real-world experience over the summer. The bottom line is that the summer program should be something that excites the student as it satisfies their curiosity, not because it may “look good” in their application.
Not all summer programs are created equally, and that's why it's essential to do your research and ask yourself what this program will bring to your application in terms of values and experiences, not necessarily reputation. Colleges don't just want to see that you filled your summers, but that you filled them thoughtfully.
For more information on planning for the summer, give us a call to schedule a free consultation today!
Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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