20 Mar

A Whole New Twist on “Summer School”

While some high school students wile away their summer hours by the pool or beach, others are jumping in to the college game early by attending a “precollege program.”

These programs-like summer camps with a collegiate twist-give students ages 15-16 the opportunity to try college life onfor size. Ranging from about 2 to 6 weeks, precollege programs give students a taste of life at schools like UCLA and Penn State. They live in the dorms, eat at the college cafeterias, and busy themselves with courses ranging from SAT prep to real undergraduate classes.

Students also get to enjoy a little more independence than they would at summer camp-they get to explore the area, and live a little more “on their own” (for example, they do their own laundry!).

The only problem, of course, is the price tag that comes attached to these excursions. The New York Times has a fantastic article about the different programs, including pricing and contact info. According to their reports, a four-week precollege trip could cost up to $7,299 – although that figure is for a program abroad. (Tip: According to counselors I know who are college application readers, spending a fortune on a summer program will NOT likely give your student bonus points in the college admissions process. Colleges would much rather you do something worthwhile with your time and your funds in your local area to make a difference in your community).

Whether or not a precollege summer program is right for your student, summer is the perfect time for you and your child to start exploring some college campuses. I suggest waiting until fall to make trips to your student’s top choices (that way you can see what campus life is like in full swing of fall semester and talk to students and faculty.) You can, however, use the summer months to get a start on visiting the colleges in your own backyard.

See what your student likes and dislikes about nearby schools, and use your new knowledge to help him or her select schools that will be a close match to their ideals. College is coming up faster than you think, so get a head start!

All the best,
Deborah Fox

photo: Penn State Old Main by littlesuz

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