Do Summer Programs Look Good on College Applications?

by | 17 Oct, 2022

Oxford summer course graduation picture

It’s well known that colleges receive more applications than places. USNews reports that Stanford University, for example, has an overall acceptance rate of just 4%. This means your application needs to be really strong to secure a place at your top choice of college. Admissions tutors are always looking for evidence of dedication to your subject, initiative, and reading beyond the school curriculum. Our students find that a summer school like the Oxford Scholastica Academy is the perfect way to demonstrate all three.

With that in mind, will a high school summer programme help you to get into your ideal college? And what else is important in your application?

Grades are really important

The 2019 NACAC State of College Admissions Report found that high school grades and admissions test scores have long been the most important factor college admissions boards consider. So, why do grades matter so much? Mostly because they indicate “effort, grit and determination”, as well as suggesting that you’ll be able to keep up with the higher level study required at university.

At the Oxford Scholastica Academy, expert tutors and individual attention will boost your academic performance. This is true whether you’re at the top of your class or you want to improve your grades. You’ll also have the time and space to explore your subject beyond your school’s curriculum and outside the classroom, introducing you to the kind of advanced ideas that will help you achieve the grades you want.

Although grades are very important, they are by no means the only measure used by admissions teams. As Harvard’s Division of Continuing Education point out, “adding summer academic programs … to an already powerful college application will help bring that application to the very top of the pile”. This is important to bear in mind!

oxford summer programme

What did you do last summer?

Just as a prospective employer wants to know what you’ve done in between jobs, colleges are interested in what you got up to during the summer. “Colleges want to understand, what have you been doing with yourself? What happened during that gap?” says Mark Kantrowitz on CNBC, senior vice president and publisher at Edvisors Network. 

There’s even something known as the “summer school effect” reports The Guardian. According to their research, 76% of children who attend a summer school progress to an elite university, compared to 55% of children with similar academic and social backgrounds who hadn’t attended a summer programme. 

Not any old summer school

What kind of high school summer programmes are best for college admissions? Ideally it should be a focused course that reflects what you want to study at university. Let’s say you’re interested in becoming a software engineer; a computer science and coding summer course will look really good on your application. The Oxford Scholastica Academy Computer Science & Coding Summer School is perfect for those considering a career in technology, computing or applied science.

An academically rigorous programme, focused on developing your knowledge and confidence to approach higher studies, is an invaluable asset to any student. Spending time on a course like this will demonstrate initiative and a serious, dedicated attitude towards your studies, regardless of which subject you want to pursue or where you want to go.

Another great benefit of doing a high school summer programme is that it can help make up for weaknesses or gaps in other areas of your application, if you have any. This is particularly true if you have evidence of impressive performance during your summer programme, for example a Letter of Recommendation from your tutor at the end of an Oxford Scholastica programme.

Gaining practical exposure

Of course, you might not even know what you want to study at college yet. The Oxford Scholastica Academy offers many summer courses for teens that are probably not offered at your school, including Medicine and Engineering. How do you know if you want to study these subjects? Taking one of these summer courses will give you the chance to try out new subjects before committing to a three or four year degree.

Adding practical experience to your application will also prove to admissions officers that you are ready to commit to a subject you are serious about. For example, one of the most important things you need in order to apply to medical school is evidence of practical work experience. On our Medicine Summer Courses, you’ll meet with patients at a hospital, take their histories and diagnose their conditions. Not only will you learn a lot from this experience, you’ll also be able to mention it in your applications as evidence of your commitment to Medicine.

Combining all of these factors makes for an experience that students will cherish for a long time after they leave Oxford. Alongside engaging with fascinating areas of study, they’ll have great fun taking part in extracurricular activities and during free time with their new friends. There is nothing quite like the experience of doing a summer school abroad!

Ready to get the edge in your college applications?

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