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Academic Summer Programs: You Can Learn and Also Make Them Count Towards Your College Application.

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Timothy Parros and Victoria Berels

We get asked about summer programs all of the time and if attending one of these camps will prompt the admission team at the college consider your attendance. The answer can be both yes and no. Though these programs might show a demonstrated interest in the university for some academic programs, typically admissions offices and summer program offices are separate entities. So to really benefit from these summer programs with an eye towards college admission, beyond the knowledge that your student will be gaining, we have some suggestions for you to make the most of these great opportunities. Let's start with the question, “Why should my student attend a summer camp at a college that they might apply for admission?”

What Summer Programs Do:

Summer programs are generally several-week academic programs at a university that allow a high school student to get a deeper understanding of a subject of their choice. These students are provided the unique opportunity to study a subject using university resources. Typically these programs allow for the student to explore their passions in a certain academic subject. Students can use these programs as a resume booster or a source of inspiration for an admissions essay, but attendance at these programs does not necessarily guarantee admission for a student. However, summer programs do provide a good preview of what your student may experience as an actual student at the university. These programs can allow students to stay in the dorms and engage with school faculty-- in other words, mimic what their actual college experience may be like.

Prestigious Camps:

There are so many amazing programs in Michigan and the United States to pick from, and many are based on a subject or area of interest that your student might want to explore deeper. However, if your student is interested in attending such summer programs, a number of programs are available based on merit that will stand out on his or her college applications. Two are provided right here in Michigan-- Michigan Math and Science Scholars (provided by the University of Michigan) and Michigan State’s High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Program.

There are also many camps that you can find through a Google search. Our students discuss the programs they are interested in before they enroll so that we can guide them to the best-fit programs at the best fit colleges. It does pay to research them before you attend them, making sure that the camp is one that your student is genuinely interested in. Attending an academic camp can show admission that your student is passionate about a subject and that they have pursued an interest beyond what they have done in school.

Though attendance at summer programs does not give students an explicit edge, at some schools, an officer reading over an application may notice that a student has shown a demonstrated interest in the university and that field of study. At others, the admissions office bases admissions on test scores and other performance only. Our best advice is to reach out to admission before you attend the camp to arrange a time to introduce yourself to them. You can even go so far as to contact the department of the school within the college that you are interested in to also set up a time to meet with them while you are on campus.

The bottom line regarding summer camps is that colleges are looking for students’ involvement outside of academics. Colleges like to see students who dive into their passions, work to better their communities, and explore their academic interests inside and out of the classroom. At Parros College Planning, we can help guide your student to cater their resume and experiences in a way that will attract university admissions officers. We also supply our students with tips on how to get the most out of their summer camps. Schedule an appointment with us to prepare your student for summer experiences that will lead to an attractive admissions portfolio in the fall.

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