Pre-College Summer Programs Offer No Edge

Summer Programs, College Summer Programs, Collegiate Summer Programs
Attending pre-college summer programs at elite universities hurt rather than help students’ cases for admission to highly selective colleges (photo credit: Getty Hall).

In a piece published this week in The Washington Post — a piece in which Ivy Coach is featured — writer Anne Kim, a skeptic of the value of pre-college summer enrichment programs, documents what Columbia University and Johns Hopkins University state on their websites about their pre-college summer program: “Columbia University’s pre-college website promises ‘an Ivy League achievement for your college transcript,’ while Johns Hopkins urges students to ‘Get an edge on the competition for college admissions.'” So, according to Columbia and Johns Hopkins, it will serve a student’s case for admission not only to these universities but to all of our nation’s elite colleges by attending such programs, right? Well, according to their websites, the answer is yes. But the actual answer, well, it’s the absolute opposite.

Colleges Often Don’t Tell It Like It Is With Respect to Their Pre-College Summer Programs

Think about what Columbia and Johns Hopkins write on their websites. Columbia’s “an Ivy League achievement for your college transcript” — what does that even mean? What is an Ivy League achievement? It’s literally nonsense. And Johns Hopkins boasting that their pre-college summer program will “give students an edge on the competition for college admissions” is, quite simply, false advertising. Attending such a program will not give a student an edge on their competition. Rather, it will paint the student as privileged, as lacking passion and initiative, and if they apply to schools in the Regular Decision round, well, these schools might presume the student applied Early to Johns Hopkins and didn’t get in (so they’re now second fiddle).

Pre-College Summer Programs Serve Colleges, Not College Applicants

But, Ivy Coach, are you saying that Johns Hopkins isn’t being forthright on its website about its pre-college summer program? Are you saying that Columbia is advertising a whole bunch of nonsense? Yes, yes indeed. That is precisely what we are saying. And why? It goes to the bottom line: colleges love their pre-college summer programs. These pre-college summer programs are business lines, netting money to the universities. And they also happen to encourage students to apply to these schools, netting even more money in application fees and invariably boosting the school’s all-important US News & World Report college ranking.

Agree? Disagree? Let us know your thoughts on these summer enrichment programs — however right or wrong they might be — by posting a Comment below. We look forward to hearing from you!


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