By Carolyn Perlmutter | Editor in Chief
With universities becoming more and more selective, students face an increasing amount of pressure to use summer as a time to participate in programs to help them stand out on college applications. Universities offer camps, some that give college credit and some that don’t.
The motive behind colleges offering programs is obvious. Dorm rooms sit empty all summer, so high school camps are a perfect opportunity for universities to make extra money. Not only are these programs profitable for universities, they attract intelligent, college-bound students.
But are these programs worth it?
These programs can be an excellent opportunity to explore interests and can look impressive on resumes, but summer jobs are equally as impressive and provide a chance to earn some money.
Most universities do not place special emphasis on applicants who have been to their programs, but showing interest is an important part of the application process.
The most prohibitive factor of pre-collegiate programs is price. These camps are for those who can afford them, not the masses. This makes pre-college programs just another way the rich can attempt to buy their way into colleges. For example, Stanford’s eight-week camp which offers eight units of college credit costs over $11,000.
The programs that offer college credit allow students to see what college life is really like and gain confidence in their abilities to handle college-level courses. Many, however, cost a quarter of a year’s tuition, and financial aid is extremely limited.
Not-for-credit pre-college programs are just as expensive but allow students to explore interests without worrying about grades. For instance, SMU has a five-day engineering program that costs $975.
Ultimately, pre-collegiate programs are not worth the money if the goal is simply to increase the chances of getting into a certain universities. However, if the program is not a financial burden and is truly interesting, it is a worthwhile way to spend the summer.