Summer Programs Benefit College-Bound Students
Whether you’re a freshman or senior in high school, you’ll benefit from summer programs or other life experiences that enrich your interests. It’s an ideal way to home in on a potential college major or simply to further develop a particular skill set.
The options are seemingly limitless.
Many universities in the Midwest and beyond offer programs, as do certain organizations, hospitals and service groups. Let’s say you’re interested in computer programming. Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to teach and inspire young females with an affinity for computer science, offers various summer programs around the nation that are immersive in a way that transcends a high school classroom environment. Similar programs exist for students who are passionate about the arts, business, medicine, architecture—you name it.
Finding summer programs
The trick is finding the right program for you. At Partners For Achievement, we have a database that lists nearly 200 programs around the country in a variety of fields. It has served as a valuable resource in helping students narrow their possibilities. A simple Google search will also point you in the right direction.
We also tell our students to start looking for a summer program as early in the calendar year as possible. In other words, don’t wait until the last minute.
We also tell our students to start looking for a summer program as early in the calendar year as possible. In other words, don’t wait until the last minute. A lot of these programs have limited space and fill up quickly. The application process can be simple and straightforward for some programs, but for highly selective programs, letters of recommendation and essays may be required. The costs of summer programs vary widely, so you’ll also want to do careful research on that front. If your budget is tight, consider service opportunities, which are free and can be life-changing experiences. Obtaining a summer job, also brings valuable experience, including accountability and responsibility.
Discovering life-changing experiences
And at the end of the day it’s the authentic experience, not the potential to build up your resume, that should draw you to a summer program. If you go to, say, an NYU drama camp because you want to attend NYU, will that heighten your chances of being admitted? Most college counselors will say, “Very rarely will that give you a leg up.” What it will do, however, is provide you with a potentially transformative life experience and camaraderie with like-minded students. And in a general sense, you’ll at least show colleges that you’ve made a real effort to try to develop your interests and skills in a certain area.
The value of summer programs continues even after you’ve been admitted to a college.
The value of summer programs continues even after you’ve been admitted to a college. I have a student who recently was accepted into the school and the major he wanted. He’s thinking of going to med school eventually, but he’s still not sure. I told him, “Med school is a huge commitment. Why don’t you explore the field a little more? You haven’t done any physician shadowing or anything like that. Give that a try before you make any big decisions.” Even though his path is already set for his undergraduate degree, the process doesn’t stop there. He still needs to confirm that he’s headed in the direction he wants, and a summer program or experience is a good way for him—and almost all students—to do that.
Tip: Plan ahead. Many summer programs open registration as early as January.
Georgia Boepple is a College and Career Counselor at Partners For Achievement. Read more about Boepple and the rest of the Partners For Achievement team.