On Summer Pre-College Programs

Pre-College Summer Programs, College Summer Programs, Summer Enrichment Programs
Ivy Coach was cited in an article on pre-college summer programs in yesterday’s Washington Post.

Do you want your child to attend a fancy summer enrichment program at an elite university because you think it’ll improve his or her odds of admission to not only that school but all highly selective colleges? If so, get that kind of thinking out of your head because these kinds of summer pre-college programs aren’t going to serve their case for admission. It’s a point we’ve been making for years from atop our soapbox in college admissions. It’s a point we’ve reiterated as other college counselors, school administrators, parents, and students tout how wonderful these kinds of programs are. Well, it seems we’re no longer in the minority in opposing these fancy, schmancy programs that are more likely to render a college applicant unlikable than they are to boost their chances of admission.

Pre-College Summer Programs Are Lame

In a reprint of a recent Washington Monthly piece penned by Anne Kim printed yesterday in The Washington Post, The Post’s education reporter, Valerie Strauss, writes, “Anne Kim, vice president of domestic policy at the Progressive Policy Institute and a contributing editor at the Washington Monthly, takes an in-depth look at what these programs offer, cost and actually provide to students. And she doesn’t like what she sees.” You tell them Anne! You tell them.

But don’t just take our word for it. Take our word for it as reported in The Washington Post. So silly we are, we know: “[Pre-college summer programs are] summer camp,’ said Brian Taylor, managing director of the New York-based admissions consulting firm Ivy Coach. At Harvard, for example, pre-college students live on campus, eat at the dining halls, and explore such topics as ‘the psychology of color-blindness’ and the ‘science of happiness.’…’Admissions counselors also say that teens should do what they used to do, before the pre-college and summer experience fad took hold: Get a job. ‘College admissions officers love jobs,’ said Ivy Coach’s Taylor. ‘It doesn’t matter if you work at McDonald’s. If you need a job to help your family pay the bills, that makes you likable, and that’s a huge part of the process.'”

We Help Make Students Likable and Pre-College Summer Programs Don’t Serve That Objective

Yes, oh yes it is. One of the most important things we do with our students at Ivy Coach is we help to make them likable. That service trip to Nicaragua? …While you might think that conveys your desire to help those in need, it conveys wealth which renders you less likable. That not so subtle brag in an essay about the time you won a math competition? …The honors section of the Common App. is for accolades. The essays should be free of any and all accolades. Who likes a braggart? Not college admissions officers.

Have a question about fancy schmancy pre-college summer programs? Agree with us? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you! And, while you’re here, read what Ivy Coach’s Founder had to say about pre-college summer programs in a piece for The Huffington Post entitled “Summer College Enrichment Programs Are Sleep-Away Camps.”


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  • Jefferson Bowen says:

    Colleges love kids who come from wealth and can pay full fair. Why do you imply they don’t?

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Yes, colleges love their development cases. But you’re incorrect to presume colleges love kids who flaunt wealth in applications — quite the opposite. Think of it this way: if the wealth isn’t serving the school’s endowment, there are enough applicants who can pay full freight who aren’t flaunting their wealth whom they’d prefer to admit.

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