Summer College Enrichment Programs

Summer Enrichment Programs, Summer University Enrichment Programs, Ivy League Summer Enrichment Programs

Summer college enrichment programs are totally overrated. You might as well spend your summer surfing all summer instead if you don’t want to do something that will help you stand out in the highly selective college admissions process.

The Founder of Ivy Coach, Bev Taylor, has an article up today on “The Huffington Post” entitled “Summer College Enrichment Programs Are Sleep-Away Camps” in which she discusses how summer college enrichment programs are essentially a waste of one’s time and money. So many students and parents believe that attending a summer program at a school like Harvard or Cornell will improve their odds of getting into Harvard and Cornell. Not so. So many students and parents believe that attending one of these such programs will help differentiate their candidacy from all of the other applicants. Not so. So many parents and students believe that these programs are a great way to show admissions officers that a student loves to learn. Heck, they’re spending their summer at college to take classes. It’s not like they’re tanning on the beach, right? It’s not much better.

These summer college enrichment programs are a money-maker for universities. Universities love money! That doesn’t mean that they’re going to admit you because you gave them a few thousand dollars though! In fact, these programs can indeed hurt your chances for admission. These programs express to admissions officers that you weren’t creative enough to come up with something to do on your own all summer. You didn’t show initiative or drive or passion. Instead, you used mommy and daddy’s money to attend a fancy sleep-away camp that happens to be at Harvard, Yale, Cornell, or any other highly selective college.

Don’t fall victim to the marketing. Don’t believe another parent when he or she tells you that going to a summer enrichment program at Harvard was the reason their kid ended up getting into Harvard. That parent is just plain wrong and perpetuating a common misconception in highly selective college admissions. That parent should keep her day job and leave college consulting to Ivy Coach. So check out the piece on “The Huffington Post” and learn for yourself why these summer enrichment programs are a total waste.

Disagree? We’d love to hear from you! Post a Comment below and we’ll get right back to you.


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  • Gwenn Selzer says:

    I disagree with your article. My son did not attend the Cornell Summer program in order to get a better chance of getting into Cornell. Nor did he go to look good on his resume. Cornell is one of his top choices and he felt that by going to Cornell for the summer, he would get a taste of what it is like to be a student there. He thinks he would like to major in business/finance and felt that the business course he would attend would give him some insight into that major. It was not a “summer camp” as he worked very hard during the 3-week for credit course. He studied every night and worked with other students on projects. He found it to be an amazing experience. He enjoyed the class thoroughly and found the professor to be very interesting. He met students from all over the world – China, Turkey, India, etc. His roommate was from Turkey and they became fast friends. Where else can a 16 year old go and meet and live with students from many different countries. He learned so much from them and they learned from him. There was nothing “fancy” about Cornell. His dorm was pretty bare bones and had no air conditioning during the heat wave. My son went to Cornell for his own personal growth, which I think says something about his initiative. It is rare for students in our small town to attend programs such as Cornell’s. He got so much out of his visit. He will feel more secure when starting college since he has experienced a college summer and he exceled in the class, fit in well with the other students, and learned how to navigate the balance between work and social activities. My son is interning at a CPA firm for the other 7 weeks of the summer in order to gain some work experience and see what it’s like to work at a CPA firm. All in all, he has a full summer that is both fun and interesting and will expand his knowledge in all different areas. What more could a 16 year old ask for.

    • I agree with Gwenn. It seems that Bev is making some debatable assumptions in concluding that all of the college summer programs amount to nothing more than expensive sleep-a-way camps for kids of rich parents who aspire to have their kid gain admission to the school attended. First of all, our son actually used his summer college programs (four of them) to sample different types of schools (LACs, Universities) in order to rule that type of school in or out. What he discovered is that he liked the mid-large university environment, but was definitely not a fan of LACs.

      Secondly, Bev assumes that these programs are all fun and games. Nope. Our son spent the summer preceding 9th grade getting his buttooski kicked in Spanish immersion at the Universidad de Guanajuato (again, certainly not a school that he aspired to attend as an undergraduate). The next summer he did the Middlebury language immersion program (again, Midd was not really on the wish list). The Midd program was also tough, and allowed him to rule out the LAC-type of school. He then did two summers (for credit) at Georgetown, competing on the curve with Georgetown students in classes like Middle East History (ancient and modern), International Relations, and Comparative Politics. Sure, he had some fun during these programs, but he also worked really hard, met a lot of diverse and cool people, gained confidence in his ability to compete at the college level, got accustomed to “the dorm life,” and honed his college search by eliminating certain types of schools.

      Ultimately, he was admitted (in 2013) to Georgetown, Stanford and several others. He will be leaving for Stanford in about a month. As an added bonus the credits that our son earned during his summer programs will allow him to graduate two quarters early.

      There are definitely some “summer fluff” college programs out there which have little substance. However, with a little investigation, parents can find some rigorous, useful summer college programs for their kids.

  • Laycee says:

    It’s a bit harsh to say that they are sleeping camps. Maybe the author’s learning camp standards are a bit unreasonable. I know a couple of teens who attended and they actually have many good takeaways that helped them maneuver applying to their universities of choice. – Layce

    • Dorothy says:

      I understand why the writer and I know where this point of view came. Because there are many universities now holding Summer College Enrichment Programs, but the truth, there is no educational out the path of their programs. But as students who was experiencing this kind of program hoping that the next generations are getting the exact meaning of Summer College Enrichment Programs, so students will be competitive students after they’re graduated.

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