Are U.S. Summer Schools Worth the Investment?

As an international student, if you are looking to make the best use of your summer holidays, you could join a summer school in the U.S. While your vision of your holiday time might be to play video games, watch movies, and catch up with friends, the benefits of joining a 4- to 7-week summer program guarantee a transformative experience for academically motivated high school students preparing to apply to colleges. The summer schools that are held on the college campuses are designed to allow students to:

  • Challenge themselves by exploring topics of interest. 
  • Gaining hands-on experience.
  • Getting exposure to college life, 
  • Developing new skills
  • Experiencing the culture 
  • Improving the application profile. 

 How to choose a summer program

The pre-college summer programs encompass a wide range of subjects. From robotics and technology, architecture, and design to medicine, law, business, entrepreneurship, and innovation, students can choose subjects per their career interests. Interestingly, students can even earn college credits after completing the program.

Since many courses are being offered, it is overwhelming for students to decide which summer school to attend. It would be necessary to discuss this with your counselor, who can help you identify the one best suited for you. Besides adding value to your profile, it should not dig a hole in your pockets. The good thing is that, besides offline summer schools, students can also choose from numerous online programs. 

The important matrix is to look for programs that have low acceptance rates. This makes them highly competitive and worthwhile for international students who have to plan their travel to the US. Given the competitive nature of these programs, they are highly respected by admissions officers. Not getting into one or the other of these programs will in no way be a disadvantage to a student who is applying to an Ivy League college. But typically, gaining acceptance into highly selective courses works in favor of an Ivy League applicant.

 Once completed, the instructors and mentors provide a written evaluation of the student, and they receive a certificate of participation.

 Top summer programs for high school students (online and on campus)

 1. Yale Young Global Scholar: YYGS is a residential program with sessions each year, in June, July, and August. YYGS, an academic enrichment program, is for outstanding high school students. Students from nearly 150 countries, including all 50 U.S. states, participate in the two-week session at Yale’s campus. This is a global learning community. For students interested in astronomy, physics, math, and computer programming, the Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics is an ideal summer experience.  Since the faculty-to-student ratio is low, the students get to know the faculty and other students. Read Top Summer Programmes: Yale Summer Program in Astrophysics (YSPA) | Ivy Central.

2. UC Santa Barbara’s Summer Research Academies, (SRA): SRA gives high school students an experience in project-based, directed research in STEM, social sciences, and the humanities. The program offers a 4-unit university course in which students choose a research topic and conduct research under the mentorship of an active researcher.  UC Santa Barbara’s Research Mentorship Program is another highly competitive summer program for high-achieving high school students. Read Top Summer Programmes: Summer Research Academies | Ivy Central

3. Research Science Institute- MIT RSI is the first cost-free summer science and engineering program. It is a blend of campus coursework in scientific theory with off-campus work in science and technology research. Participants experience the entire research process. From reading relevant journals related to their field to executing a complete research plan to delivering their findings through written and oral reports

4. Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS): TASS is a highly selective, free six-week program for high school students. The program is open to US and international students who want to experience a “transformative educational experience.” The students will attend three hours of college-level class each weekday, attending lectures and participating in various activities.

 5. Summer High School Academic Programs for Engineers (SHAPE): SHAPE is a program for STEM aspirants. It offers project-based courses, including electives, taught by faculty at Columbia University. SHAPE offers courses in computer science, robotics, innovation, and design.

Some of the other programs that students could select from are,  Pioneer Academy offering the first and only online accredited research program, John Locke Institute, which runs programs in Oxford and Princeton,  Stanford’s Pre Collegiate Summer Institutes, while not for credit is renowned for providing an in-depth exploration of “advanced topics, ” The University of Miami, Summer Scholars Program,  offers both credit and non-credit programs, John Hopkins University Summer Programs is designed for high school students with an aptitude in math science, and interest in Engineering, Harvard Summer School offers both online and campus programs taught by Harvard faculty and experts. Students at Brown Pre College Program experience the rigors of a college-level program alongside social and educational activities.

The bottom line

Each college has an application process requiring you to submit your test scores, and essays, answer a few college prompts, and in many cases an interview. Above all, choosing the correct program for the students is critical in ensuring they get admitted, and stay committed, and motivated. 

Also read:

The University of Chicago, Summer Enrichment Programs | Ivy Central

PROMYS: Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists | Ivy Central


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