Summer Academic Programs

<p>My teenager is attending the Summer at Brown program. I was curious if other parents have experience with Summer programs and can offer some tips. I am already thinking about next summer and making a more informed choice. My daughter has been at Brown about a week and is really unhappy. This is quite disapointing to me, because not only is it a financial investment, but I had hoped that she would have a happy summer vacation. She has complained that the kids are "party animals," and her roommate was off to play strip poker. Smoking is also allowed on the campus which really shocked me. She is a rising sophmore and a good kid. The mini-courses were supposed to run from approximately 9-3 and she has at the most three hours of class a day and sometimes only two hours. She said most of the time she is just wandering around bored and lonely. I'm sure there are students who leave the program and plan to come back next year- she isn't one of them. My advice to parents is if you have a child who is emotionally mature, intelligent and sensitive, you might want to think twice before exposing them to this sort of environment. The motto there is to experience "real" college life and to encourage teens to become more independent. I think she would have been much better off if I had went through the John Hopkins gifted and talented youth summer program or maybe even have stuck with Girl Scouts. The bottom line is teenagers do need supervision and this type of atmosphere encourages risky behavior.</p>

<p>during the summers before soph, junior, and sr. year, i took college courses (through their summer session) at the University of California, Riverside since i live only 15 minutes away. i thought this was very beneficial because it introduced me to college classes, work, and i was comfortable because i was surrounded by college students. maybe you should look into this for your daughter, and she could take some courses she's interested in and get college credit on top of it all. just a suggestion.</p>


<p>I sent you a pm</p>

<p>This makes me feel a lot better about not going to one. I wanted to, but I don't ask my parents for that much money--I assumed that we couldn't afford it and moved on. Now, while all my friends are off at colleges across the country and I'm stuck in DC without a job (the agreement I already had fell through, and I'm too young for most jobs here) or internship (I was let down at the last minute) or even the cheaper art course at the local college (the dates didn't work out), my mother rails at me and says I shouldn't just assume we're poor because she's really getting sick of having me around the house just wasting time and doing nothing. So much for trying to be considerate, I guess--but your description makes me glad I never persuaded her to let me go.</p>

<p>I'm sorry your daughter had such a negative experience. Has she at least found some friends with similar interests?</p>

<p>My son attended a summer Governor's School (Pennsylvania) before his senior year, and it was definitely supervised appropriately. The students were allowed to go alone to certain defined areas on and off campus, and with an R.A. to other, further, areas. The curfews were very strictly enforced as well. The Brown program does not sound well run or appropriately supervised for teens this age.</p>

<p>I can't speak to the social aspects of summer college programs, but academically, it is normal for students to be in class for 2 hours a day. The rest of the time, they should do their homework. If your D is taking 2 classes, and the classes meet every day for one hour each, she is pretty much carrying a normal 2 course load. Profs usually tell students that for each hour of class, students should spend 3 hours on homework.
Of course, without the structure of high school, it's easy for highschoolers to goof off (so do college students!) and rue their lack of application come midterm and final times. Your D may not have found a good roommate fit, but I hope she benefits academically from the program.</p>

<p>Sounds like prep school! (sorry about that ;))</p>

<p>If there is one kid feeling that way, there are likely to be others. Hope she manages to find them, and they can be their own support group. </p>

<p>I know lots of kids who have gone to Earlham's Explore-A-College, and they all come back with glowing reports. Of course, it a dry, no-smoking campus, and they enforce it even among undergraduates, so it would be surprising if they didn't in their "junior division".</p>

<p>Raichel, I also sent you a private message.</p>

<p>I've heard before that the Brown program wasnt particularly well supervised or structured.I've heard this about the Yale program as well.People rave on the other hand about the Harvard programs set-up.
My S attended Penn State Summer Studies program last summer (6 weeks, 3 credits)while a rising junior.While there was lots of free time there were an amazing amount of activities to get involved with.You do however, have to choose to join in,nobody is going to force you to.He enjoyed the freedom the town of State College, Pa provided,the town blocks were literally across the street from the dorms and the kids were given alot of freedom to come and go until dorm curfew check-in time.They also travelled on three weekends to visit other college campuses,which he enjoyed and found very enlightening.
This summer he's at U of Miami for a three week program called Summer
Scholars.Its mainly a career exploration program,theres medicine,architecture,marine biology and in his case,Sports Management.He chose it because it gave him the opportunity to judge whether following a Sports Management major in college would be right for him. Its a more intense schedule than he was expecting. 3 hours a day for each class (2 classes) and has more rules.Hes chaffing a bit under them after his experience last summer.The setup of the U is also such that it precludes just leaving to wander around a small college town.Curfew is earlier and rules within the dorm are more you can be on the floor rather than in your individual room.He is however loving the connections and people hes met so far through the classes..teacher is Director of the sports Management program at Miami,has met the basketbal coaches ..male and female..met the Athletic Director and Asst Athletic Director for the U.They left campus last night to go to Coconut Grove and today are going to the Everglades.On the 4th they're going to South Beach so perhaps he wont be feeling so confined after the weekend.
I guess the moral of the story is you have to pick these programs carefully,speak to people who have done them before, and think about what type of kid you really have.</p>

<p>I sympathize. </p>

<p>Last summer, my son attended a three-week non-credit class at Brown in microbiology. He is a quiet kid but mature for his age. His experience was similar to your daughter's in some ways. He only had a few hours of class daily and lots of free time. It was too much free time. There wasn't enough to do to fill the hours, and he sometimes complained of being bored. The number of planned activities was thin, mostly on weekends. However, he had no problem with roommates and took time to explore nearby tea and coffeehouses, bookstores, and shops, coming home with many souvernirs and little leftover money. We had friends in Providence from my own days at Brown and they invited him over. Overall, he enjoyed the experience but we both agreed that we would look for something else this summer. </p>

<p>We did a lot of research. We didn't accept what was said on the website but called people up and inquired about how many hours were spent in class, how much homework, exactly how many days planned activities were offered, etc. Ideaslly, I should have talked to people who've been there before but I didn't know about this site then. I certainly would do it now. While it's normal in college to only have "X" hours per day in class, these programs usually bill themselves as something very different. The question is whether they live up to those promises.</p>

<p>Right now my son is in the four-week program in biology at UChicago, and things are totally different. The program has the reputation of being the "most intensive" of any offered by Chicago. He will earn 6.6 Chicago credits. He is in the lab eight and sometimes ten hours a day, plus homework on top of that. Additionally, there are activities planned virtually every evening and on the weekend. His only problem is figuring out how to fit things in. I was very impressed when we went there how organized everything was. </p>

<p>The work isn't easy. They really put the kids through the paces in a way I haven't seen with other summer programs. The first week I got complaints about "maybe I can't do's too hard" and even "Maybe I should come home." These complaints have disappeared and been replaced by "stop worrying, mom". I would highly recommend Chicago's summer programs: they have a range of classes offered of varying intensity but they all seem worthwhile. The dorm RA's seem incredibly well trained and supportive.</p>

<p>Like you, our mistake was in not knowing what questions to ask and taking general comments on websites at face value. There were more intensive programs at Brown, and we would probably have been better off signing up for one of those. We just didn't realize it at the time.</p>

<p>I do think your daughter will take something back with her, even if her experience at Brown wasn't as successful as you'd hoped. Our son has a more realistic view of the Ivies. He can see the rankings and knows they are great schools, but also understands there are a lot of factors that go into deciding whether a given place is right for a given person. </p>

<p>I would take a moment to call the summer office and, without naming specific offenders, express some concerns about things going on, both in terms of your daughter's free time and what's going on in the dorms. Strip poker for high school students just shouldn't be happening. The dorms do have RA's and maybe they need to talk with them about supervising things more closely. If you can keep your cool and not put the summer admins on the offensive, you may find them more receptive to things you have to say than you may think. I called once or twice with concerns, and they were at least willing to talk with me.</p>

<p>I can highly recommend Summer College at Cornell. It is a shorter time frame, so the class is more compact, and, therefore, more in-class hours per week. Also, with a compact class, there is more hw on a daily basis. </p>

<p>They do a terrific job with after school activities, particularly on weekends, but also have intramurals, yearbook, summer paper, and other community jobs to keep kids busy. Students are housed together by age and by program, so you have a roomie and study mate.</p>

<p>My d's at Cornell now (rising junior) and having a great time - very well supervised, classes from 9-11:30 and 1:30-4:30. However, most of the kids on her floor (including her roommate) are rising seniors and in other programs, so they may have changed the assignments this year. She gets along with all these kids very well, and doesn't have time to call, never mind have "too much" free time. It's a terrific 3 week program for her (they do offer 6 weeks as well).</p>

<p>My daughter will be attending the Carleton Summer Writing workshop that begins in a week. We've corresponded with a couple of previous participants, but I would like to hear from any CC families who have experience with the workshop. I'd particularly be interested in how closely the RAs monitor the kids and how the dorm living worked out.</p>

<p>I highly recommend Washington University in St. Louis for their High School Summer Scholars Program (which I'm at right now!). It is a five week, 7-credit, residential program. My classes are daily 11-12:45 and 3-4:45 plus a tues/thurs English Comp tutorial from 9-10:30. </p>

<p>I was at first impressed by how structured and intimate the program seemed (which it is, with only 75 rising seniors) and the huge variety of course options to choose from (mostly taken with actual undergraduates in summer school), as well as the "bang-for-your-buck" factor (7 college credits + 5 wks room/board for $4800). Not even comparable to what Stanford and Brown charge, in the upwards of $9000!</p>

<p>Everything is very organized, I'm never bored, and St. Louis is awesome!</p>

<p>I hope you're able to sort things out for your daughter. It sounds like there are enough positives in the situation that it can be an overall good experience.</p>

<p>My d. is at a summer program now and I've been wishing there was a guidebook on the order of "insider's guide" to summer programs for middle and high school aged kids. She's having a very good experience, but you can't know everything about a program until you've attended. Our s. spent several summers at a camp that was wonderful for him. In both situations, we knew an adult who worked for the program, and received good inside information. My most important concern was always safety and supervision. My gut feeling has been that a college or university would not provide the same level of supervision (since they are used to dealing with adults - although freshly minted ones) that a traditional summer camp or prep school would. Camps and prep schools are in the business of supervising young adults and if they don't get it right, customers leave (or file law suits). Personally, I wouldn't feel as comfortable with my kid on a college campus where you have 18 and ups, away from home, living their lives (and smoking and doing all the other things that look so good when you're away from home for the first time) even if they are somewhat segregated. It's just too big and loose for me. </p>

<p>It's a shame that it's so hard to come by first hand information on any of these programs. This thread could help remedy that. I'm sorry your d. is unhappy but hope you get some response from the program.</p>

<p>Have you looked into community service or volunteer positions? Since the other options for you fell through, there might be an organization out there that would offer you an interesting position as a volunteer. A lot of the internships are geared toward students 16 and older. There are summer academic programs out there that have funding but you have to do a lot of internet searching to find them. </p>

<p>I hope my D finds a few friends that she feels comfortable with. This is the first week, so I am hoping things will get better.</p>

<p>Good luck on your search to find a meaningful way to spend your summer. </p>



<p>Thanks for the advice. I have been looking into volunteering, but I'm getting frustrated with the amount of paperwork and administrative red tape you need to go through before being allowed to help. I'm trying to figure something out, though.</p>

<p>I hope that everything turns out all right for your daughter, and that things get better after everyone has adjusted.</p>

<p>My son (after his junior year) attended Duke's Summer program last year. It was a great program. Well-supervised (curfew, dorm counselors) but not overly supervised. My son took two Duke courses - Public Speaking and Calculus. His classes were made up about 80 percent of Duke students. Both were difficult courses - he got a b- in PS and a B+ in Calculus. It actually made him look down on Duke a little - "Dad, how smart can these Duke kids be if I did better than 90 percent of them?" It was a great confidence builder for him that he could compete at the college level in real courses. These were college courses for college credit. He had straight B's his junior year and then got straight A's his first semester senior year after the program. I give Duke's summer program a lot of credit for him getting into West Point.</p>

<p>My daughter, a junior in September, is attending Stanford's program this summer. Most attending are seniors next year and we had to get a waiver for my daughter to attend. Similar to Duke's program but the weather is a helluva lot better in Palo Alto. My D is taking Introductory Economics, and a Comparative Literature course of Nobel Literature (reading Toni Morrison, Kawabata, Gordimer, and Gabriel Marquez). It's an 8 week program - courses are college level and about half of her fellow students are Stanford students. On a scale of 1-10, my D told me last week the program is a 10. She loves the program and she loves Stanford. She's in San Francisco today with some of the friends she's made. The big problem may be that she's fallen in love with Stanford and it's so difficult to get into. Another plus is that she's told me by phone that the kids in the program are "geeks" but nice geeks and she likes them. She said she realizes her friends at home, while smart, aren't as focused as these kids at the Stanford program and she needs to learn from the Stanford kids.</p>

<p>My D tried to talk me into Brown or Harvard - but I knew the supervision was minimal (and I think she did too) and the courses weren't college-level and being in cities I knew there would be more distractions. Because Duke and Stanford are in Durham and Palo Alto, the programs and activities are very campus-oriented. The summer programs must be huge moneymakers for Brown and Harvard.</p>

<p>Next summer I'm hoping to send my younger D overseas for the summer - not with a college-sponsored program. My college age daughter spent last summer in Cuzco, Peru taking 5 hours of Spanish lessons per day and rooming with a Peruvian family - all for $200/week - through a local institute. I found it on the Internet and corresponded by email with the Director of the Institute. She loved it and she's fluent now.</p>

<p>thisyearsgirl - have you tried your local library? Many have tutoring programs or like to have older kids read to younger ones.</p>

<p>So what is the truth about costly summer programs? Many here have made a major point of saying that colleges hate seeing kids who went to costly programs and that volunteering and free programs are the way to go.</p>