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I get questions all the time. Here’s a popular one I receive from a parent…

Q: Are summer programs really worth it?

A: Yes, and no. Here’s the deal with summer programs…on an activities list, they look good. The applicant spent part of the summer on a college campus or doing some sort of research. If the program was in their field of study – excellent! This shows admissions officers commitment and dedication. There are also other programs that can be helpful even if they’re outside of the field of interest to the applicant. Learning a language, doing a service project, etc. But remember, the “I build a house for the poor” is great, but it’s become a cliche at this point in college essays. Another thing to keep in mind is that the summer programs on a college campus don’t mean much if the applicant will be applying there. Yale Young Global Scholars is a good program, but Yale undergraduate admissions officers warn YYGS admissions officers not to tell students it will mean much to a Yale application.  Same for the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth. So my advice is do the summer programs if you have a real passion for it. But keep the summer before senior year open for college apps and essays.