Is a College Summer Program Right for Your Teen?

| January 25, 2012 | 412 Comments

It may be the dead of winter, but have you thought about what your teen will be doing this summer? College summer programs are a great way for high school students to get a feel for college life before application time comes. While it might be a little tough for some students to get over the idea of taking classes during the summer, most programs are structured to give plenty of time for socialization and making new friends.

Some summer programs are day programs that don’t require overnight housing. This is a good option for students who are interested in colleges in the area or those who don’t want to spend the summer away. Others do require students to stay on campus in student housing for the duration of the program.

Here are 4 great reasons to consider a summer college program for your teen:

1. Consider it a “warm up” for college applications.

Many summer programs at selective colleges may require students to submit letters of recommendation, samples of previous work, test scores, essays, or participate in an interview. For many students the college application is their first time having to go through such a personal process. However, for students who have gone through applying to summer programs the year before, they’ll be veterans when it comes time to apply as a freshman. Even better? A great summer program at a college is an excellent thing to put down on your apps!

2. Take a college for a test drive.

For some high school students, these summer programs are their first taste of the resources and freedom they’ll have during their college years. This can be a great motivator when it comes time to apply to schools. Even better? Many of the summer programs are taught by real students and professors from the college – not outside instructors. Students can learn more about the school first hand to see if the college reviews match up with what they experience.

3. Summer school pays off: earn college credit early!

Some summer programs will give the opportunity to earn transferrable college credit. Earning college credits through summer classes and AP programs is a great way for students to save on tuition (and time) later on in college.

4. Prevent summer brain drain.

Let’s face it – no parent enjoys playing babysitter for the entire summer, especially for teens who crave freedom. Some students are better than others about engaging in intellectually beneficial activities during summer vacation. According to researchers, many students experience summer learning loss if they aren’t academically engaged on vacation. Help your teen stay sharp by letting them find the right program that meets their interests.

Not sure where to look for these programs? Check out TeenLife’s summer program page and guide

Sam Coren is the Content Manager for, a Washington Post education site for college reviews and free resources on “all things college.” You can read more of her insights about the college search process on the StudentAdvisor blog.

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About the Author ()

Sam Coren is the Content Manager for, a Washington Post education site for college reviews ( and free resources on all things college. You can read more of her insights about the college search process on the StudentAdvisor blog (

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