As regular readers of my college admissions newsletters and blogs know, college admissions is a holistic– meaning that college admissions officers want to know about how your perceived academic and personal interests were developed throughout high school in coursework, community service and extracurricular activities that often include attendance at a collegiate summer program. You’ll be submitting your transcripts, test scores and writing essays – and your Common Application will detail how you’ve spent your time throughout high school – including your summers. While collegiate summer programs aren’t a requirement, nor are they even an expectation- I guide many of my clients to selecting a meaningful program that will meet many objectives – and also remain within the family budget.
Given the coronavirus outbreak -things are very different–opportunities to volunteer locally, return to sleep-away camp for the leadership role you had envisioned for years, join a local internship or enroll in a collegiate program aren’t an option. When disappointed students ask me how to spend their summers– I have many ideas – starting with meaningful community service to help those in need, completing college applications ahead of time, preparing for next year’s courses, and using the time to study to take/retake cancelled SAT/ACT and SATII exams.
Nonetheless– you may have received an acceptance to a summer program that will now be offered in an online program- so let’s address whether the program will meet your college planning goals?
In College Admissions & College Planning- What Are You Doing This Summer? I spoke about the many advantages to attending a meaningful summer program including:
- Reducing Admissions Guesswork
- Professor Recommendation
- Challenging Yourself Academically
- Solidifying or Exploring a New Academic Area of Interest
- Enhance Your Activities Resume (Also Read My Blog on Extracurriculars and Common Application Here🙂
- Emotional Growth
- Admissions Bump
- Topic for College Specific Supplemental Essays on Your Common Application
Yet, here we are in the middle of the global COVID-19 pandemic and most if not all summer programs were either cancelled or moved to online learning. Many of my clients have asked whether to attend such programs. On the simple level, I cannot fathom after months of finishing your high school classes online how another 3, 4 or 6 weeks will feel appropriate or of interest– but let’s explore under what circumstances that option might be meaningful and a good use of time.
Moreover, I want to highlight the important questions you should ask of the university program director before you commit and leave a deposit.
Although most programs have been cancelled, some universities have announced that programs beginning after July may be announced later. I think it’s unfair to hold out false hope –and you should assume these programs will not take place. I also ask that you let go of the disappointment– and please keep a healthy perspective as every high school student has been equally impacted. In general, I have mixed feelings about how such an opportunity is a solid educational investment or not- and will be happy to assist you in evaluating your college admissions plan and the course you might be considering in an online capacity.
Looking at all of the advantages above to attending- half of these no longer apply. You won’t meet people from all over the world, have an independent away-from-home experience and certainly will not have access to world-class labs and other hands-on learning that take place in a university setting.
8th-9th-10th– If the price is “reasonable” and the course is something new and nothing you could accomplish at high school- go for it. Personally, I think there is absolutely no harm waiting a year especially if price is simply outrageous and your family’s employment situation is in jeopardy. Let’s discuss.
Juniors – 21
If you attended a summer program in 10th grade- skip it- it’s not going to add enough to your college applications to take a course online that you can justify.
If you have a limited budget but also have limited experience in the coursework related to your potential major areas of study–this program may have been critical to demonstrating what we refer to as “informed interest) (and the course may have even added to a less than stellar list of activities related to your perceived academic major area of interest) . If this sounds like you- we should explore this in a conversation ASAP. Some colleges are adjusting the tuition – as they should for offering an online program. If the course involved labs/hands-on activities – by all means- that is not happening. Your decision comes down to affordability- I don’t see how spending thousands of dollars on an online class is a good use of funds for any family and would suggest we discuss this before you move forward and consider a less pricey within-state public university over a private program often two to four times the price per credit hour.
The KEY QUESTION to ask of the summer program academic advisor is about the format of the learning. If the class is just a pre-recorded lecture without any visible virtual face-to-face small group discussion– this is waste of your time. You can read the textbook on your own. That’s harsh – but true. The second question- is how much contact will be provided–in small group, in one-on-one virtual dialogue to learn with others.
I’m certain you have many questions about your college plan -and how to make adjustments. If you’re a junior, this is the perfect time of year to be exploring majors and creating your balanced list of colleges. Please reach out to schedule your Online College Counseling session with College Advisor Bonnie Rabin, PhD
I invite you to schedule an online college counseling session with me to begin your college major research, shape your balanced list of colleges and being your Common Application process and college essays.
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