Students should partake in summer academic enrichment programs

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SUMMER COURSES: Enrichment classes are a great way for students to spend their break to further their education and prepare themselves for the future.

Kyle Kucera, Staff Editor

Many high school students spend their summer leisurely by the pool or by making money working. After all, summer break is seen as a time to relax, spend time with friends, and to forget about school. However, with college soon approaching for rising juniors and seniors, many students fail to take full advantage of the summer months. High school students should be maximizing their time during the summer by participating in classes that will supplement their education.

Hundreds of universities across the country offer college preparatory courses for high school and, in some cases, middle school students over the summer to enrich their academic portfolio. Out of the top 40 schools ranked in the U.S. News & World Report, all but one offer some type of summer program. These courses cover a wide range of subjects from economics to writing a television show and will provide students with excellent skills, glimpses into college life and could benefit them on a college application.

Moreover, for students who want to be accepted into competitive, highly selective universities, a pre-college program is a great way to demonstrate to admissions officers that one is spending their summer productively, and further pursuing an area of study that interests them. With so many options to select from, students should choose a program that best suits their academic interests and perhaps is through a university they plan to apply to. 

There is, however, a caveat: the price. Many of these top-tier summer programs through elite universities will cost families thousands of dollars. According to a Washington Post article, Harvard University’s two-week session costs $4,600, and Brown University charges $2,776 for a one week course and approximately $7,000 for a four-week residential version. 

Although, with many universities offering these programs online due to the pandemic, their prices have lowered due to housing and accommodations not having to be provided. Northwestern University’s two-week, online academic enrichment seminar costs $2,450, while Tulane University’s two-week, online academic enrichment program only costs $400.

In addition, many non-ivy league schools have summer programs that will also provide unique academic enrichment opportunities. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign offers free, two- or three-week seminars on a variety of STEM-related topics and invites rising sophomores, juniors and seniors to apply. There are many other schools around the nation that offer similar free or low-cost academic enrichment programs, and plenty of schools offer financial aid and scholarships for accepted students who are in need.

Yet, there is a debate on whether or not these summer programs really offer any leg up in the college admissions process. According to the Washington Post article, several professional admissions consultants say that pre-college summer programs generally do not give students a special advantage on their college applications. Yet, the article also states that colleges want to see their applicants utilizing their time wisely during the summer.

But putting the ‘if-it-matters-for-college-admissions’ debate aside, these programs are a great way for any ambitious student to further pursue a topic of interest or find a new academic interest. Many of these seminars are only for a few hours a day and do not require too much outside work. They are a great way to meet new people from all over the world, to be taught by college professors and experts and to get access to university materials.

Many universities send emails or mail to high school students urging them to apply to their summer enrichment courses. The applications consist of answering a few questions, writing a short essay and maybe an interview. These programs offer unique opportunities for all students to maximize time that might otherwise be wasted during summer break. Regardless of financial situation, GPA or one’s love of school, every student should consider applying to a summer course that is practical and interests them.