by Sammy Bonasso ’20
College-bound students spend much of high school fortifying their applications to impress universities, as well as visiting, researching and contacting them. This can be done even outside the school year through attending the many summer programs they offer.
As the UAHS College Counselor, Kathy Moore meets with juniors and seniors about college lists, organizes college meetings for each grade, visits colleges to build relationships with representatives and is otherwise knowledgeable on the application process. According to her, summer college programs have extensive histories, with many colleges having offered them since their beginnings.
Students typically choose programs based on either college or academic interests. “Some students are really excited about getting on a particular college campus, so they look at that particular school and see what summer programs they offer,” Moore said. “Other students are less interested in a particular school and more interested in an area, maybe computer science [or] engineering, and so they’ll just search for summer programs with that content.”
Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois holds multi-week summer programs for several age groups through its Center for Talent Development. CTD began in 1982 emphasizing talent identification, but it now engages in “talent identification, talent development, research [and] advocacy.” Along with summer programs, it offers talent searches, weekend programs, online courses and service-learning activities.
High schoolers can participate in the Equinox program during two three-week summer sessions or one five-week one, depending on the course. The deadlines for the former are June 15 and 29, but CTD still evaluates late applications.
Equinox offers many higher-level courses, such as AP Computer Science and Honors Chemistry, which can count for high school credit, even if the courses are condensed.
Students applying to Equinox must have ACT or SAT scores that meet course-specific requirements; if their test scores are inadequate, they must submit an Admission Portfolio application including test scores, a transcript and a teacher recommendation. The program costs $2,185 for students commuting to class from off-campus and $3,795 for residential students, with fees increasing by $100 for payment submitted after May 14.
Harvard’s Pre-College Program
Harvard’s Pre-College Program offers three two-week sessions to 2019 and 2020 graduates for “an immersive, collaborative [and] transformative residential experience.” It offers several classes in subjects ranging from physics to philosophy, but they provide no high school credit. Regardless, the program may suit students seeking to apply to Harvard or experience an Ivy League campus.
The program also provides co-curricular activities, including workshops with faculty and Harvard-associated experts on topics such as the psychology of color-blindness and the science of happiness. It also encourages students to tour nearby colleges such as MIT and Boston University and visit a Red Sox game or the Museum of Science.
Students are admitted to the program based on counselor reports, grades and short essays they submit before the May 7 deadline. Submitting an application costs $50, and the program itself costs $4,600 including the health insurance fee.
Miami University’s Summer Scholars Program
Miami University of Ohio offers two-week programs to rising juniors and seniors. Foremost, students participate in academic modules appealing to their interests the majority of each weekday, focusing on subjects including fair trade, curing cancer and game design.
This year, students in the program will receive seminars with advice from experts about the college process, such as on financial aid and writing application essays, and experience college life by living in residence halls, eating in dining halls and utilizing the campus’s libraries and Armstrong Student Center. Moreover, through the program each student can connect with an “acclaimed professor” and “other accomplished high school students.”
Students must complete applications by May 1 and request their counselors to send transcripts, letters of recommendation and test scores; the program typically accepts those with GPAs between 3.5 and 4.0. In total, the program costs $1,450, with financial aid available. Those who attend receive special consideration for scholarships, admission and competitive programs.
A Range of Options
On a separate note, Moore believes colleges do not place extreme weight on summer programs when judging transcripts, especially because not everyone can afford them. She therefore encourages students simply to stay active during summer, even if they cannot attend a college program. She finds jobs, community service, leadership and volunteering to appear favorable on college applications.
However, these programs’ benefits still stand. They can directly aid applications by impressing colleges with experience, as well as indirectly by providing the insight and growth to improve students’ application and enable them to explain why they are suited for a college they have attended a program at.