Summer school: Are pre-college programs worth it?


Photo Katie Ceraso

WHS junior Katie Ceraso (second from left) at Amherst College summer program.

As the end of the year approaches, many students have begun to fill their summers with trips to the beach and vacations with family. But there is another activity gaining popularity, causing students to focus their attention from fun-filled vacations to college classrooms.

According to Forbes magazine, for the past 30 years, universities have been opening their doors to summer programs for students nationwide. With millions of kids eager to attend their dream colleges, many believe they can gain an admissions advantage through these summer camps.

But are these programs worth all the attention and money?

On one hand, these programs allow students to delve deeper into a subject that is not offered at their high school. On the list of the programs at [email protected], the available courses range from neuroscience to philosophy and religion. Each program is designed to broaden a student’s horizons both academically and socially. They give students a glimpse of college life and what it’s like to live on a campus away from home with people from different backgrounds.

WHS junior Katie Ceraso attended a summer immersion program in entrepreneurship and marketing at Amherst College. “I thought it was something I might be interested in for a career, so I wanted to try it out,” she said. “I also love sleepaway camp and meeting new people.”

These may seem like great opportunities for a prospective student, but are a few weeks really going to make or break your application?

In reality, probably not.

According to the College Board, many admissions officers state that students’ trasncripts are the most significant factor in college admittance. College admissions officers also look for a diverse and in-depth involvement in extracurricular activities that reflect applicants’ interests.

And four years’ worth of study and activities in a certain field are much more reflective of a student’s passion than a few days or weeks spent in a summer enrichment program. For example, if a student is interested in writing, he or she can express this passion by taking advanced English courses and elective writing courses, joining writing clubs, and potentially winning awards or publishing some pieces in magazines.

Along with being more effective, these alternative options are less costly than the summer programs. Attending [email protected] for one week costs $2,709; attending for four weeks costs $6,764, making the program affordable to only those who are willing and able to spend the money.

In the end, summer college programs effectively submerge students into the college atmosphere and a field of study. However, students should only attend the programs if they truly enjoy the classes they are electing to take. Even with these programs, college admittance is not guaranteed.