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Are College Summer Camps/Pre-College Programs Worth my Money?

worryingabtcollegeworryingabtcollege 11 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
I'm asking this question because this summer, I had friends who went to famous colleges and payed for and attended their summer camps (1 week and longer) to learn a specialized subject (ex: game design, coding). They went to Stanford and USC, for example. It was also pricey. Do these camps/programs help in college admissions? Also, there are people I know who went to Ivy league Pre-college programs for 6 weeks. (Also pricey). Do college AOs like people who participate in these? Thank you.
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Replies to: Are College Summer Camps/Pre-College Programs Worth my Money?

  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33094 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    No tip for "pay to play." No tip if you apply to a college where you went to a summer program. Some kids benefit from the challenges and learning. But no special tip in admissions.
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 1949 replies26 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Most of those programs will not help in college admissions. The few that might are sponsored (free or nearly so to the participants) and highly competitive to get into and/or offer actual college credits from that school (which may or may not transfer, and may or may not show rigor).

    Whether or not they are worth the money is an entirely separate question. Some do offer pretty cool experiences, and not everything one does in high school has to be done to impress an AO. Alternately, one could spend a few weeks studying something in the summer, realize it isn't their thing, and that self-discovery could save them from making a potentially much more expensive mistake when selecting and enrolling in a college program later.
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  • momofsenior1momofsenior1 6623 replies39 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    I agree with @Groundwork2022 - the competitive admission programs run by the actual colleges themselves (and not just programs renting space on a college campus), can help. It can also help students formulate a more solid "why us" essay.
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3872 replies25 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    The competitive summer programs, which are usually free, have a great track record of their students getting accepted to elite schools, likely because the selection process for these programs is very similar to that of college admissions. The program my D attended junior summer at a top 20 school was free and had a sub 10% acceptance rate. My D is still friends with a number of those kids and they were all accepted to elite schools.

    The expensive programs ... not so much.
    edited July 22
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33094 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    But the best competitive programs are where you're chosen among thousands. And sometimes, with a stipend. NSLI-Y comes to mind. Not even the Stanford summer programs are a special tip.
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  • itsgettingreal17itsgettingreal17 3872 replies25 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    edited July 22
    ^ all of the competitive programs that I’m talking about have thousands of applicants. That’s the point. The process looks a lot like college admissions to the elites. You have to send transcript, resume, essays, and often LORs.
    edited July 22
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  • worryingabtcollegeworryingabtcollege 11 replies11 postsRegistered User Junior Member
    @itsgettingreal17 do you know of any specific competitive/free summer programs, and if so, can you list them here? Thank you!
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  • CaliMexCaliMex 1716 replies34 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    @itsgettingreal17 Would love to hear about the programs you're referencing.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 33094 replies358 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Before anyone runs off searching for the magic tip summer program, learn how to assess your current record, what makes you a match- or not- to what they look for. Learn what does matter to individual colleges.
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  • Happytimes2001Happytimes2001 1293 replies10 postsRegistered User Senior Member
    Many of these programs are very, very expensive. That being said, if there is a program which really excites you as a student, this is a good way to explore an interest. In addition, you might gain experience which can be helpful later. Some kids might get financial aid ( we noticed many of the expensive Summer programs have scholarships). For parents paying full freight, these Summer programs might be too much in addition to BS.
    It's pretty rare that a Summer program is going to make or break a student. But some are very competitive to get into and can really help students write essays and think about other kids who have similar interests. Most importantly, they will see there are a lot of talented kids.
    I think it's more important to do something which motivates YOU. And remember, there are lots of kids who cannot afford to do these programs and colleges realize this when looking at candidates. Be aware that doing service in Fiji ( someone actually told me their kid was doing this) might draw scorn. I had to keep my open mouth from scoffing. But if you went to Fiji and designed a water system or early alert system that might be a good thing ( I just have trouble putting it in the service category). Ask yourself, what does this program do? What will I learn? What skills will I gain? Are these skills which can be used in many areas? Who are the other attendees? What would you think if someone told you they were going to this camp/program?
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