What is a Summer Program?
When we talk about summer programs in this article we are referring to educational summer camps; these are similar to a college experience and are usually located on a college campus. That’s not to say that traditional outdoor summer camps located in rural areas don’t provide learning opportunities for students! We are just specifically referring to summer programs located on college campuses that focus on helping students academically or enhance their extracurriculars while preparing the student for college.
Types of Educational Summer Programs:
There are generally two kinds of educational summer programs: those that allow students to explore and have some flexibility to choose their courses or ones that focus on one specific area for several weeks.
Enrichment Summer Programs
Enrichment programs are camps that allows students to take a variety of classes throughout the program. At JKCP, the schedule is weekly and students choose one morning class and one afternoon class every week. The classes include a variety of topics including academics, art, business, sports and STEM. The goal is to offer a wide range of classes since many students don’t know what college major or career they would like to pursue. This type of program is usually a great option for both parents and students. Parents love it because they know their child is learning throughout the summer and has the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming school year, but they also know their child can choose subjects that interest and excite them. Students also love these types of summer programs because the classes are usually different than they would typically get in their regular school year. Even if the subject is the same, the class structure is hands-on, engaging and there aren’t any tests or pressures associated with the classes.
We can’t speak for every enrichment summer program out there since there are thousands throughout the country; schedules may vary, class selection will differ, the types of classroom activities and even level of instruction will differ for every program, so make sure to do your research when selecting this type of program.
Focus Summer Programs
A focused program is for a student who knows exactly what subject they are passionate about and wants to explore it as much as possible during their summer vacation. For example, The University of Pennsylvania Weitzman School of Design offers a 4-week summer program in Architecture for high school students. This type of program helps students see what college classes will be like in a certain subject.
Will Educational Summer Programs Get Me Into My Target School?
The truth is there are many benefits of attending a summer program, whether it is an enrichment style or a focus program, but a guaranteed acceptance letter to a certain school is not one of them. Many students who aspire to attend a prestigious school hope that by attending a summer program at that school, it will give them an advantage, but that just is not the case.
That being said, there are reasons attending a summer program can help you with your application (notice how we said application, not acceptance). When you are applying to a prestigious college the competition is intense and just good grades are not going to be enough. While you might be a valedictorian at your school, you could be competing against hundreds of valedictorians to gain a spot at your top school of choice. Any type of extracurricular or summer experience that can help you stand out in your application or your application essay can be a differentiating factor for you. Showing focus, curiosity and perseverance through exploring careers is a way you can stand out.
How Summer Programs for High School Students Can Help You Get Into College:
Test out your college of choice:
Many students think they have a dream school into which they would like to be accepted. Even with research, perhaps having an alma-mater parent or even a college visit, it’s still extremely difficult to know if a college is the right fit for you without experiencing it. Many summer programs allow you to live in the dorms, experience the city or town it’s located in and take classes from the faculty. Many programs are a month-long which is a substantial amount of time to get acclimated with the experience and know for certain if it’s right for you.
Help you declare a major early:
It’s very common for students to enter college as an undecided major. It’s also common for students to declare a major only to switch it later on in their college career. While there is nothing inherently wrong with either of these things, going into college knowing the major you want will help you to stay ahead of your class schedule from the very first semester in school. This can have several benefits:
- Not taking unnecessary classes you don’t need – remember, you are essentially paying for each class you take.
- Don’t get behind on required classes – if you need to catch up on certain classes to graduate you could end up having a heavy course load in your junior and senior years which often include the most demanding classes in college.
- Ensure you graduate on time – some majors only offer classes you need to graduate in certain semesters. If you change majors or don’t plan again it might mean having to take one or two classes in an additional semester of college!
- Flexibility – by staying on top of your required classes and not taking unnecessary classes you might have enough free time in your class schedule to do something extra. This could be to study abroad, get an internship, double-major, make your schedule light for a few semesters so you can focus on your more difficult classes or maybe even graduate early.
Skills you gain:
It’s undeniable that attending a summer program offers you a chance to gain new skills. Whether that is something tangible like building a 3D model in an architecture program or learning how to build a business plan and pitch it to a team of business-people. The fact is summer programs will help you use your summer to learn something new that you will surely take into your future college-life and eventually your careers.
Improve your high school grades:
If you are attending a summer program hoping it will get you into college, it can certainly help you indirectly. You know you need good grades to get into a top school and a summer program can help you prepare for a class that you find particularly difficult.
Connecting with People:
Networking might not be the first thing that comes to mind for most high schoolers when they think about summer programs, but the students, teachers and even counselors you will meet are going to be a valuable asset to you as you think about college. Whether that is connecting with students with similar interests, asking for advice from the Resident Advisors which are usually college students themselves or learning from and asking for references from the teachers in the program – the people you meet while in your summer program will surely help you along your journey.
Last, but certainly, not least is the social benefit of summer programs. If you are nervous about leaving home, making friends at college, taking college-level classes or anything else – a summer program is a perfect opportunity to dip your toe into college life. You can start your school year with confidence and know what to expect.
How to Find A Quality Summer Program for High School Students:
It is important to talk about the fact that not all summer programs for high school students are the same level. In this article, we reference our programs quite often because we know these are high-quality programs. But it’s important to do your due diligence when searching for a summer program and make sure you will be getting the benefits discussed above! One way to do this is to do your research online and call to ask the program provider questions. Remember, just because a program is located on a college campus doesn’t mean it is being run by the college or classes are taught by the school’s faculty.
Here are the main points you want to hone in on when comparing summer programs: Who teaches the classes? What is the student to teacher ratio and what kinds of activities do the students get to do? You can download the writable PDF below to help you ask all the right questions when you are comparing different summer programs.
Here Are Some Summer Programs For High School Students on University Campuses: