5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Summer Program
(Admissions Consultant and English & History tutor at The Edge Learning Center)
Summer programs are a great way for a student to improve their CV and to show active interest in a specific topic or field of study; on top of that, they are educational and can be a lot of fun!
There are a few things to consider when parents and students are choosing a summer program:
What is the student’s passion?
Sometimes parents are tempted to send their student to a summer program that is intended to educate them in an academic subject in which they’ve been less than successful. Don’t do this. Instead, use the summer program as a chance to further explore a subject that the student really loves. This demonstrates enthusiasm and focus, and it will lead to a more enjoyable and educational experience for the student. Consider summer programs which focus on a specific subject that the student is likely to choose as their major or even future career (business/economics, music, humanities, etc.).
Consider programs in the country and even at the school that interests the student the most.
If the student hopes to attend a school in the U.S.A., for example, strongly consider a summer program in the U.S.A. rather than in Hong Kong or some nearby location. If the student is interested in a particular school, investigate what summer programs that school offers, or—if that is not a possibility—consider summer programs in the area around that school. This has a couple of advantages. First of all, it will demonstrate that the student can study and thrive in a foreign environment far from home, so they will find the transition to studying abroad easier than a student whose only experience is local. Secondly, it’s a great opportunity to visit possible schools of interest as a family, either before or after the summer program.
Would the student be well-served by spending the summer doing a service activity or an internship?
This is very dependent on the student’s active interests. If a student has a long-standing commitment and a passion for service activities, then it is reasonable to enroll in a service program. Some summer service programs, however, are simply glorified vacations, so make sure to find one in which real work is being done. Another possibility is an internship (some of which are paid, many of which are not). This is a great chance to get real-world experience in the student’s field of interest, and is especially desirable for students who hope to pursue a career in business, medicine, or science/tech. Remember to use your contacts! If you have a relative or family member in one of these fields, they can be valuable resources in helping your student to obtain an internship.
Is the organization behind the program a reliable one?
This is obviously not a question you need to ask if you are pursuing a summer program through a school. However, if you are considering a summer program which is run by an independent organization, you should look carefully into the level of responsibility and professionalism of the organization. Consider how the leaders of the activity are chosen, and what their experience is; staffing qualifications; how many years the program has been in operation; what their risk-management procedures are; and references and reviews from former participants (you can directly ask the organization to provide these). The best programs understand parents’ concerns and will gladly cooperate with providing any information you need before you entrust your student to them.
What are the application deadlines and what are the application requirements?
Parents and students are often surprised by how far in advance many programs’ applications are required. A typical deadline is mid-January. Make sure that you understand all the requirements of the application procedure and get started on them far enough in advance that you are guaranteed to finish everything well before deadline (many academic/arts-based summer programs will require applicants to take a standardized test, complete a profile or portfolio, submit letters of recommendation, or go through an interview process). Don’t wait too long to get started. Finally, don’t put all your eggs in one basket; just as when you ultimately apply to schools, it’s best to apply to more than one summer program, especially as the best ones have stringent application requirements and reject a number of applicants each year.
As always, The Edge’s highly-qualified Admissions Consultants are ready and eager to help you with any further questions you might have about finding and applying to summer programs. Please note that any parent who enters into a full contract with an Admissions Consultant can rely on them to help you and your student in this process. Our goal is the same as yours: to make sure that students find programs that will enrich their lives and offer them the best possible futures.
Good luck to all our readers, and we at The Edge wish you a joyful and fruitful 2020!
About The Edge
The Edge Learning Center is Hong Kong’s premier Test Preparation, Academic Tutoring, and Admissions Consulting services provider. Founded in 2008, The Edge has helped thousands of students improve their ACT and SAT scores as well as their IB and AP grades. The AC team has just finished off another successful period in which students gained early acceptance to schools such as Columbia, MIT, UChicago, and more! Check out the rest of our 2018-9 Admissions Results!