Summer School is like an introductory university experience. For one, the application process is quite similar, wherein an applicant must submit their GPA, recommendation letters, essays, etc. But most importantly, students get a taste of university life by living on campus and taking college-level courses to earn credits. For research-oriented programs, they can develop their academic skills further by participating in research teams, giving oral presentations, drafting laboratory reports, and more!
However, does summer school really help with college applications?
On the surface, the answer is NO. Your chances of being admitted to a university is not influenced by your participation in their summer programs. Some schools even deliberately state this in the FAQs of their programs. If this is the case, you may wonder: Why do high school students still spend thousands of dollars to undergo a grueling application process to join a competitive summer program?
There are three main reasons:
1. It strengthens your connection to the university.
It may not guarantee your admission, but this is a rare opportunity to familiarize yourself with the campus and experience the traditions and characteristics of the school. You may even get the chance to acquaint yourself with several professors, and if you are lucky, get one of them to write a recommendation letter for you! How well you know the university will definitely help you in writing your application essays and succeeding in your interviews. It will reflect your strong interest in the school which will help convince admissions officers of your commitment to the school.
2. It will help you explore your professional direction.
This is an opportunity for you to figure out what you truly want to pursue in college! We always encourage our students, especially our high school juniors, to maximize their summer vacation by exploring various college-level courses which are rarely offered in their schools. This trial and error perios will also be a good way to determine your own learning direction so you can be better prepared for college.
3. It is an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your academic abilities.
Getting a good grade is a definite reflection of your academic and learning abilities. Not only that but accomplishing college-level courses may earn you credits that may shorten your stay in college.
Here are Five High-Quality Summer Programs to get you started:
1. Research Science Institute
Research Science Institute (RSI) is an academic scientific research project co-founded by the Center for Elite Education (CEE) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1984. It is the first summer science and engineering research project open to high school students that is free of charge.
It is reported that most of the candidates selected by RSI are top science students, and their acceptance rate is similar to that of Ivy League schools thus making it one of the top summer camps in the United States. All RSI participants have been admitted into the Top 10 Universities in the United States such as MIT and Harvard.
Recommended for: Rising 12th-graders
2 Letters of Recommendation (another letter of recommendation if there is university-level research)
Standardized Test Scores (recommended PSAT scores: Reading - 700+ and Math - 740+; ACT scores: Math - 33+ and Verbal - 34+)
Application channel: www.cee.org/programs/apply-rsi
2. SSP - Summer Science Project
The Summer Science Program (SSP) project began in 1959. It is a summer project jointly established by the New Mexico Institute of Technology, University of Colorado Boulder, CalTech, and MIT. It is held at the New Mexico Institute of Technology and Boulder, Colorado, and its branch school in Germany. There are 36 participants on each campus every year. The admission rate is low, and they accept a select few international students.
The project is divided into three pathways:
Astrophysics: Students will have access to the most advanced astronomical instruments in the world. The results obtained from their research and observations will be sent to the American Asteroid Research Center, which will be used as a basis for other scientists to predict the position of asteroids in the future. This pathway is held in three campuses: New Mexico State University, University of Colorado Boulder, and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Biochemistry: Students will study fungal pathogens in crops at Purdue or Indiana University.
Genomics: Students will study the evolution of antibiotic resistance at Indiana University.
Recommended for: Rising 12th Grade (a few Rising 11th Grade)
A very good science foundation
Application channel: www.summerscience.org
3. University of California COSMOS
This is a summer school jointly organized by the California State Government and the University of California school system to help students tap their potential in science, engineering, and mathematics. The project is held on four campuses: Davis, Santa Cruz, San Diego, and Irvine. Each campus offers different subjects centered around STEM. Under the supervision of UC faculty and researchers, students attend lectures, discuss projects, and conduct experiments. Each campus accommodates about 160-250 total participants with each class having 20-25 students. Needless to say, applications are fierce.
Recommended for: Rising 9th-12th Graders
2 Letters of Recommendation (one of which is from a STEM subject teacher)
Transcripts (GPA3.5 and above are recommended)
Application channel: https://cosmos-ucop.ucdavis.edu/app/main
4. Yale Global Young Scholars Program
The YYGS project is hosted by Yale University and is a two-week highly competitive leadership development project for high school students around the world. Since 2001, it has gathered globally outstanding high school students every year. It has nurtured an interdisciplinary academic environment for students to cultivate their leadership skills.
It comprises of four interdisciplinary areas of study:
Literature, Philosophy, & Culture (LPC)
Politics, Law, & Economics (PLE)
Solving Global Challenges (SGC)
Innovations in Science & Technology (IST)
Recommended for: Rising 11th-12th Graders
(Note: Applicant must be 16 years old and above when the project starts.)
List of Activities
1 Letter of Recommendation
Application channel: https://globalscholars.yale.edu/
5. Penn Wharton Leadership Program
LBW (Leadership in the Business World) is a summer camp for future business leaders funded by the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Applications are highly competitive with only 120 or so students selected every year.
The program is designed to provide opportunities for promising business-oriented individuals to develop their leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal skills. Since 1999, LBW has hosted students from all over the world. Students get the privilege of hearing lectures by renowned Wharton professors and guest speakers. Aside from classroom discussions, they get to visit companies, independently design business strategies under the guidance of Wharton undergraduates, and attend various cultural events.
Recommended for: Rising 12th Graders
Transcripts (GPA3.5 or above)
1 Letter of Recommendation
Application channel: www.wharton.upenn.edu/leadership-business-world/
Aside from these Top 5 summer programs, other elite universities also offer a variety of summer pre-college programs. It is just a matter of finding the right fit for you. To help you in choosing a program that will suit your preferences and elevate your skills, our consultants are vastly knowledgeable in helping you make this decision. A suitable summer program may just be what you need to spice up your college applications!