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Summer Programs and Academic Enrichment–Choose Carefully

I recently visited Brown University on opening day of the Summer at Brown program.  I took the opportunity to record my thoughts about these sorts of programs.

If you prefer, you can read the transcript below.

Mark Montgomery
Educational Consultant

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So I’m here today on the campus of Brown University, one of the eight Ivy League campuses, and it’s a beautiful summer day.  Today is check-in for the Summer at Brown, and this is a program that’s for high school students—it last several weeks—and there are just scads of students that are checking-in to spend most of their summer on a college campus.

A lot of my clients ask me whether or not these programs are really a good thing to do during the summer and on the one hand, they can be a good thing because it is a good way to transition, or to think about, living on a college campus.  Students generally take a course or two—a morning course, an afternoon course—and they get a taste of campus life.

But one of the things I warn against is thinking that taking the Brown Summer Program is actually going to be a way to help increase your chances of getting into Brown.  It really isn’t.  These are completely separate programs that are run, not by the Admissions Office, but by a separate entity within the University.  They’re to make money, they’re to provide opportunity for students, but they really have no relationship with the Admissions Office.

So an alternative might be to think more about what it is you want to accomplish during the summer.  Are there certain things you really want to study?  If there are—like maybe it’s computer science or gaming, maybe it’s music, maybe it’s something like economics—look for the courses, look for the programs that offer those academic subjects that you really have an interest in exploring and find a college campus program that will allow you to do that, or a camp experience, or find ways that you can deepen that interest on your own.

You don’t necessarily have to come to a college campus to do that.  It can be very expensive.  Again, it can be a good experience.  There’s nothing wrong with doing these kinds of summer experiences on campuses around the country, but first of all, make sure you’re doing one that you really think will meet your needs and your interests and second of all, don’t think it’s going to be an easy way into that particular college.  It’s probably not going to be.

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