So, let's talk about summer again. This time the prompt came from a reader who wanted to know about those on-campus pre-college summer programs. She wanted to know if they were worth the big bucks, what summer would be the most optimal (after sophomore or junior year) and whether participation could help in getting into that particular college.
Here's a response from a guidance counselor I know.
"Summer programs are a great way for students to get involved in the college atmosphere while in high school. I would consider these programs if your child has a deep interest in what the program provides. I have many students going to FIT for programs in advertising, sales and manufacturing of clothing, because that’s what they love. It is important for the students to ask around or talk to their counselors about a program first, though, as part of a vetting process.
"These summer programs have very little to do with getting into that particular school, BUT it shows all colleges the willingness to work and grow in a certain field which makes a very big difference in admissions. It doesn’t have to be the most prestigious school or cost the most. Colleges want to see high school students doing something rather than nothing, especially over the summer and that’s not just limited to college programs."
And here's another take on these programs. This post suggests attending one of these programs after junior year as a way to prep for college but also points out that college admissions staff don't place high value on attending; instead they think jobs, volunteering and other learning opportunities are just as important.
There's a commonsense consensus -- these programs may be fine if pricey but there are many other worthwhile (and admissions-beneficial) ways for teens to spend their summers.