Barnard College Summer Programs Review
The summer before my senior year of high school, one of my best friends and I took a 12-hour flight from Hong Kong to spend a month in New York at the Barnard College Summer in the City Pre-College Program. Taking two classes four days a week, meeting a huge range of professionals as a part of the Life After College series, taking guided and unguided trips all around the city, and getting a taste of what dorm life would be like in college made the summer of 2010 one of the best of my life.
I definitely wouldn’t call Summer in the City an intensive academic experience, and I don’t think the end-of-course evaluations that each of my teachers gave me were particularly helpful as part of my college applications. I did, however, make a short film in my month there as part of my Filmmaking: From Script to Screen class and learn a ton about the history of New York through film, literature, and other art forms as a part of my The City as Character class (which isn’t offered this summer).
That said, the focus of the program, as evidenced by its name, is very much New York itself. The Life After College series allows you to choose between dozens of weekly talks or visits to possible workplaces in a huge variety of industries — for example, I went to a talk by a food blogger and visited a public relations firm, among other opportunities. Other than that, RAs take students to musicals, poetry slams, and landmarks like the Empire State Building, teaching you to navigate the subway so that you can take it yourself in your free time. Despite the sign-in and -out system, curfew, and stipulation that program participants must remain within Manhattan, I still managed to have a ton of fun wandering around with my friends. Another perk of the program was getting to use neighboring Columbia University’s Butler Library and Dodge Center for Fitness.
For those of you who might be from New York, there is a commuter option, but the residential part of the program was one of the most enjoyable for me. Even living in a Barnard dorm during one of the shorter programs, like the one-week Liberal Arts Intensive program, the eight-day Young Women’s Leadership Institute, the ten-day Dance in the City program, the week-long Summer Science Seminar, or the ten-day Entrepreneurs in Training program, would probably be a lot more fun than commuting for a month. In any case, if you’re set on commuting, that option is only available for the Summer in the City, Liberal Arts Intensive, and Summer Science Seminar programs.
Since Barnard is a women’s college, I only encountered three or four male students at the program the summer I went even though the program is supposed to be for students of all genders — so if you’re considering applying to a women’s college, this might be a good place to test out whether it would be a good fit for you. That said, the mostly-female environment was fine for me during the month I was at the program, but now that I attend an all-gender college, I’ve realized that I probably would have gone crazy if I’d stayed two more weeks.
All in all, I would say that this is a fun experience for people who want to spend a month in New York and have around $6,000 to spare or manage to get the limited financial aid that the program offers. It definitely wasn’t a bad experience; that said, it wouldn’t be my first choice if I were applying to high school summer programs again this year. This program is open to rising juniors and seniors. Applications for this summer are open until June 7, so if you’re interested, get on it!