The Lunacy of Fancy Schmancy Summer Programs

Summer Programs, Summer Programs for College, College Summer Programs
A high schooler going on a service trip to Nigeria, while maybe well-intentioned, conveys that mom and dad have money and that is counterintuitive to making yourself likeable in admissions (photo credit: Malcolm19).

We have long suggested on the pages of our college admissions blog that good common sense can go a long way in the highly selective college admissions process. In our experience, however, most parents and students don’t exhibit common sense when it comes to this particular stressful process. In some rare cases, parents and students — like the ones involved in the cheating and bribery scandal that made headlines this past week — not only don’t exhibit good common sense but they demonstrate an absence of a moral compass. But most people have a moral compass…they just don’t have a whole lot of common sense when it comes to the admissions process. And parents encouraging their high school-aged children to attend fancy schmancy summer programs are indeed a shining example of folks navigating the college admissions process who just miss the mark.

We Help Make Our Students Likeable and Summer Camps Don’t Serve That Objective

One of the most fundamental things we do with our students at Ivy Coach is we help to make them likeable, to inspire admissions officers to root for them. Our students don’t flaunt wealth and privilege. They don’t boast of accomplishments. They don’t grade grub. They don’t participate in fancy schmancy summer programs that convey only two things to admissions officers at elite universities: (1) mom and dad could afford to send their children to these programs (many admissions officers don’t know which cost money and which are free if you happen to be under the misimpression that the free ones are better) and (2) the student demonstrates a lack of initiative, choosing to do a program because they think it’ll impress admissions officers rather than pursue an activity that can be a genuine difference-maker.

So we rolled our eyes ten times to the left followed by ten times to the right when we read an article up on “MarketWatch” entitled “Some parents offer bribes to get their kids into the best summer camps” by Jeanette Settembre that describes the world of educational consultants helping young people choose the right summer camps. The bribery is (obviously!) outrageous and unethical — just as it was in the recent college admissions scandal. But what isn’t mentioned is that, presumably, many of these parents are trying to get their kids into these camps to improve their kids’ cases for admission to elite colleges. At least we presume it’s a motivating factor for some (we could be wrong).

If you still want your child to attend some fancy schmancy summer program after reading this — maybe in a developing nation on another continent or at an elite university right here in the United States — we encourage you to check out this “Huffington Post Live” video in which Ivy Coach Founder Bev Taylor smacks down some of the perceived benefits of these programs.


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