While the nights are cold and the days short, summer will be here in no time. Surprisingly now is the time to start thinking about how you will best use the time over those long hot days. Summer programs come in all shapes and forms, from purely academic endeavors to expeditions over the high peaks of the Colorado Rockies. There are literally thousands of options to choose from. There are so many that it does take some thought on what one will do. Planning now will help sort out what your summer will be like so you can focus on other more important things like school!
So to bust a myth – there is no automatic advantage bestowed by attending a school’s summer program when applying to that school. In fact, many prestigious schools state clearly “Attending a summer program in our school does not advantage you in anyway in the admission to our school.” However, by attending a school’s summer program you will have the opportunity to see the school, live in the dorms, talk to some professors and spend time away from home, maybe for the very first time. So there are definite benefits.
Another benefit of attending a university or college summer program is earning college credits. While this is a bit of an advantage in that you will possibly not have to take a particular class, one must always be aware that not every school will accept credit in a course from another university. The course must match or meet the requirements of a similar course at the institution you are attending.
Summer programs should expand your mind, challenge you and give you something interesting to do. Most colleges have no preference about what students do with their summers, as long as they do something other than sitting at home watching TV or playing video games. Sitting on the beach reading ten classic books can be just as enlightening as attending a geopolitical course at Georgetown.
Whether you take a challenging course, travel or visit colleges; do something. Some things to things to consider are: How well do you know yourself? Have you ever done something that is not academic over the summer? Have I ever been on a university campus?
In light of these questions here are some summer programs that may be of interest. As mentioned these are only a few of thousands of possibilities:
If you have never been on a college campus, summer is a pretty good time to go check out schools you may apply to, particularly if your are about to enter your last year of high school. There are two basic ways of visiting schools.
- Plan a trip with your parents
- Go on an organized tour.
The first option is rather obvious. Figure out where you want to go, book the tickets, call the admission office or look at the school website and figure out when and where you will go. For the second option here are two great companies I recommend:
- TS College Tours: www.tscollegetours.com
- College Visits: www.collegevisits.com
The benefit of going on a planned tour is that you will have access to admission representatives, stay in dorms or nice hotels, get to talk with other students and perhaps even get your primary essays done. You also get to see a range of schools that you might not otherwise consider. The drawback to these tours is that you may not get to see every college you might visit if you plan your own trip. You are also locked into the location of where the tour is going.
Sometimes engaging in something different will give you a new perspective. Outdoor programs like Outward Bound or NOLS will provide you with the opportunity to challenge yourself mentally and physically while learning new skills – kayaking, river rafting, rock climbing, or backpacking. There is no better way to spend a summer than living in the outdoors, carrying a backpack climbing to the top of a 12,000 ft peak or sea kayaking in the Gulf of Cortez. Check out what these two programs have to offer.
If you are interested in doing more studying but that is not the only thing you want to do, Summer Discovery offers all kinds of programs. Situated on a number of university campuses around the US and Europe, Summer Discovery offers course from SAT Preparation to International Relations and Culinary Arts. They also offer internship opportunities. Check out www.summerdiscovery.com and www.discoveryinternships.com.
The last option is, of course, purely academic. Be aware that some programs require an application process to be admitted. Typically deadlines are in January. Here are two options:
- Georgetown Summer: http://scs.georgetown.edu/departments/21/summer-programs-for-high-school-students
- Yale Summer: http://summer.yale.edu/apply/student-inform
No matter what you choose to do have fun and challenge yourself.
Photo courtesy of wikipedia