Work and college admissions success (as in employment during high school or over high school summers), contrary to popular belief, are not inversely related. There’s an all-too-common misconception out there that students should attend fancy, expensive summer programs to improve their odds of getting into highly selective colleges. This simply isn’t true. Do you think that Harvard is going to admit your child because he attended a summer program? No. They’ll gladly take your money for the program but that doesn’t mean that it’ll improve his odds of getting into the university when he applies. The fact is that expensive summer programs are entirely overrated and not necessary to gain admission to highly selective colleges.
There are a number of things a high school student can do in lieu of going to a fancy summer program at a prestigious university. For instance, they can work. Maybe this means lifeguarding and saving lives. Maybe it means flipping burgers. Maybe it means starting an entrepreneurial endeavor that the student will continue even after the summer ends. Maybe it means doing science research and conducting experiments. Maybe it means researching the life and times of Josephine and Napoleon Bonaparte. There are tons of options!
The point is, parents, stop worrying about financing these expensive summer programs. Will your child learn some good things through these programs? Probably. But they can also learn some good things by reading a book in between shifts at a job over the summer. They can also learn some good things trying to start a business endeavor. They can also learn some good things right in their neighborhood. They don’t have to spend the summer away from home! There are indeed other options.