Do Expensive Summer Programs Help Get You into College?

Do Expensive Summer Programs Help Get You into College?

Short answer: Absolutely not.

Long answer: Summer programs can run from free to almost $10,000. They are often hosted on elite college campuses and allow high school students to take courses over the summer. Some examples of wildly expensive summer programs include the Columbia University Summer Program for High School Students which costs about $8,000 for 3 weeks and Summer at Stanford which comes to $12,800 for 8 weeks. Many of these programs offer little financial aid (Columbia offers none).

College admissions officers will never expect that a student attended an expensive summer program. It would be very unfair to students who don’t have those financial resources or need to work over the summer. In addition, these summer programs are not usually very selective. Most students with families who can foot the bill are in. That said, attending these summer programs won’t hurt you. They’ll likely provide a challenging academic and social experience. You’ll get to experience a new part of the country, meet different people, and study interesting subject matter. But, colleges will not place more value on that experience than another applicant’s experience working as a waitress at Friendly’s.

However, this does not mean that you should just forget about summer programs and get a summer job instead. While that’s still an excellent option, there are some summer programs that look outstanding on college applications. They’re usually free or will even pay you in order to make up for lost summer income. The catch is that they are HIGHLY selective. Programs like TASP (Telluride Association Summer Program) or RSI (Research Science Institute) allow high school students to work with extremely talented students and faculty from across the world over the summer. They’ll give you a wonderful academic and social experience while also augmenting your college application. Take a look at the list of free summer programs now as deadlines are fast approaching!

Did you attend a pricey summer program? Was it worth it?