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Summer 2020 was dramatically different for high school students, with in-person programs closed and very few virtual opportunities. However, Summer 2021 already promises great improvements since exciting options are opening up. Some of the most well-established summer programs are offering both a few on-campus courses and many online courses. One excellent example of this is at the well-known Summer@Brown, on the campus of Brown University. Stanford University is now open for summer 2021 enrollment with special advanced online coursework, and the Phillips Academy Summer Session has a hybrid option with both boarding and online opportunities. Columbia University has a wide range of program types, and Barnard, Smith, University of Connecticut, Cornell, Emory University and Harvard offer a variety of programming options.
Summer programs offer such an exciting, broad and rich array of subjects! Consider a summer program to be your opportunity to explore, deepen your interests and spark new academic passions. This is what a good summer program can bring you – new ideas, new experiences and greater self-awareness. These invigorating experiences, on-campus or online, can also give you a much greater understanding of college life in general and better preparation as you turn towards your new ‘home away from home’ on-campus next year, or the year after.
Being on-campus would be a splendid opportunity, but in reality, campus programs may not be widely available this summer. Nevertheless, these and other outstanding colleges and universities are offering excellent online programs of various lengths, often taught by great teachers who can make virtual courses brilliant and stimulating! As an online summer program student, it is important that you still follow the same rules of engagement and behavior as an on-campus participant – turn your camera on, be on time for class, engage and ask questions in class, and make a positive impression on your instructors.
Some students believe that the ‘right’ summer program at a prestigious Ivy League institution will demonstrate the student’s interest and abilities, and hopefully gain ‘points’ in the student’s college application process. However, colleges’ admission office and summer programs offices are in NO way connected.
What IS important is your response to the opportunities you have, whatever they may be. These are the topics you’ll use to write vibrant, appealing essays on your college applications, showing your motivation and the dynamic intellectual interest that led you to spend some of your summer weeks eagerly learning. Each college’s admission officer hopes to read about your excitement as you discovered something new about yourself when you experienced your first taste of life away from home, or how an offshoot to what you thought of as a prospective major opened up the doors for new thoughts and ideas about your future goals.
As you consider your summer plans, keep the following in your mind. The reason behind your selection of a specific program should be an opportunity for you to demonstrate your interest in exploring areas of academic inquiry. For example, you are not duty-bound to complete a STEM program as a Math major if you are fascinated with the study of Chinese, and don’t assume that your colleges won’t take you seriously if you embark on a summer writing program if you plan to apply for a major in Marine Biology. Just be ready to write about your academic interests in your application, if possible, or share with an admission officer in an informational interview. It demonstrates your desire for knowledge, and that, after all, is what colleges are seeking in successful applicants.
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