Where International Students & Parents Go Wrong While Choosing the Summer School Programs – Feedback from the Admission Officers at Stanford, Brown, and Pennsylvania
With summer around the corner, the high school students will be looking forward to getting a nice long break. However, with changing times, summer breaks are now not only limited to summer camps & vacations. In the last few years, the summer school programs have become very popular; especially among the kids who are eyeing for admissions at the top colleges after Grade 12. In this post, we will discuss where international students & parents go wrong while choosing the summer school programs in order to increase the admission chances of their children at the top colleges after Grade 12. Additionally, we will also share the feedback & views of the admission officers on the summer school programs.
For parents, summertime brings up nostalgic childhood images of taking over the street with a stickball game, enjoying matka kulfi or chasing butterflies in the afternoon heat. For many, summer vacations meant a week-long stay at naani ke ghar.
But, we are not in the 1980s anymore!
Parents these days are too worried about their kids; especially regarding the summer activities. For the parents, whose kids are in Grade 9 – 12, it’s even more confusing. Those kids are at an important crossroad of their lives.
So, they encourage their kids to get involved in various activities such as summer camps, community work, summer schools (pre-college), extra courses, and even business.
Where International Students & Parents Go Wrong While Choosing the Summer School Programs
Parents these days are too worried about their kids getting into top colleges for their undergraduate studies. They are even more worried about their summer activities.
The parents (and counselors) encourage their kids to get involved in various activities such as summer camps, community work, summer schools (pre-college), extra courses, and even starting a small business.
Each and every activity has got its own benefits. Finding the right activity at the right time is not easy. Among all those activities, parents quite often approach the summer school program in a completely wrong way.
Parents Approaching the Summer School Programs in a Wrong Way
Well, the summer school programs are definitely helpful in college admissions; but only if your child goes to the right summer school for the right reason.
Admissions at the top colleges in India and abroad are now more competitive than ever. There are too many deserving students competing against each other to study their subject of choice. It’s a fact that high grades and excellent test scores are not always good enough to make the cut these days.
Summer school programs are excellent ways to build a nice resume and stand out in the crowd. Students, who spend part of their summer holidays attending a summer school program, obviously get an edge over other students.
Summer school students gain a number of skills which can benefit them when they apply to top colleges or get called for college admissions interviews.
According to the “summer school effect” study by Bristol University, 76% of children who attended a summer school program, went on to study at an elite university, compared with just 55% children with a similar academic and social background who did not attend any summer school program.
So, it’s indeed true that summer school programs are indeed helpful if your kid is eyeing a top college or university for Bachelors.
But, are you approaching the summer school program selection in the right way? More often than not, parents are under the impression that summer school programs will help their kids to get admission into top colleges for undergraduate studies.
How do the Admission Officers & Top Colleges View the Summer School Programs?
Hype or overhyped, a significant section of the parents (and students) go gaga over the reputed summer school programs abroad; especially the summer programs in the US.
According to the experts, it would be a mistake to think that glamorous summer school programs give anyone an advantage in the college admissions process.
As per Caroline Koppelman, admission counselor, attending the summer program at Harvard basically means you have had the budget to attend the summer program at Harvard. Taking a summer course at Harvard would never hurt you. But, that does not get counted as a demonstrated interest at all. Under no circumstances, you would get an advantage while applying to Harvard as a freshman.
Jim Miller, Dean of Admissions at Brown University, does not give any extra weight to summer programs. According to Dr. Juli Ip, Associate Dean of Medicine and a Faculty Member of Brown Summer School Program, it’s the experience that gets counted and not the name of the summer school.
Beth Heaton, former admission officer at the University of Pennsylvania, also echoed a similar sentiment. “I did not place much value on them when I was at Penn and reading files,” she says. “What I really felt was, ‘Oh great, more school. And it’s really wonderful that the student had this opportunity,’ but t,o me it didn’t help them stand out in any way“, as quoted on PrepScholar.
Instead of attending a summer school program at a top and elite college, you should encourage your child to attend a summer program that can help them to explore their interests.
The foreign summer schools, especially at the elite colleges like Harvard, UPenn, Yale, Brown, Duke, etc. cost around $5,000. So, it only makes sense if you attend those schools for genuine reasons and gather invaluable experience, and not because of the brand names.
According to Martin Walsh, former Associate Dean of Undergraduate Admissions at Stanford University, the main purpose of the summer school programs is to offer a good program to the students, and earn some money when the colleges are closed.
These programs provide wonderful social experiences for the students. Students get a sense of college life by living in a dorm, and also a sense of how college courses work.
But there are other options as well that students could do over the summer that would actually help in the admission process more than the summer programs offered by top universities and elite colleges. Internships, research projects, online business, or MOOCs (online courses) can be equally helpful without paying too much money.
Watch the following video on US College Admission Tips by Martin Walsh
So, what Should Parents Focus on While Choosing a Summer School Program? Read How to Choose the Right Summer School Program – In Focus: Jindal Global Summer School!
Author: Tanmoy Ray
I am a Career Adviser & MS Admission Consultant. Additionally, I also manage online marketing at Stoodnt. I did my Masters from the UK (Aston University) and have worked at the University of Oxford (UK), Utrecht University (Netherlands), University of New South Wales (Australia) and MeetUniversity (India).
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