Summer. A time when educators relax, parents get stressed and students f ill their days with binge watching TV. But for the motivated students, summer can offer a whole set of decisions.
And for other high-school students, a summer job might fill their day with many of them looking ahead to save for their future. But with that comes the eye-opening realization that it’s now time to answer the lifelong question that they’re so often asked, “What do you want to be when
you grow up?”
Now faced with the pressure of having to make this decision, the reality of the layers to reaching the right choice can prove to be quite overwhelming as they begin to explore the next step – post-secondary education – especially for those considering international studies. Questions like, ‘community college or university? A 2- year program or a 4-year degree?’ The quest to finding the right fit can be a long one and navigating the system and the options may provide a challenge.
Students will undoubtedly spend hours online, navigating websites, reading blogs and trying to make an informed decision based on what others have to share. All of the above offer a great starting point early on in the process but once they’ve developed a short-list of “desired” schools the fact-finding mission becomes intense.
A great way to alleviate some of the uncertainty for students is to attend a
pre-college or summer program at a school their considering. Not only will this keep them busy through the dog days of summer, but it also offers a hands-on experience of what life on the campus of the school would present.
Most colleges and universities offer at least one summer program which provide individuals with the opportunity to explore the campus and it’s facilities, meet with instructors, take a few courses and become familiar with the surroundings. Many top schools in fact have multiple programs for consideration. This my be a great solution for those who are still uncertain about what career they’re best suited for and where to pursue it.
The options are plentiful and therefore it is almost certain that any student seeking a pre-college experience will find the perfect fit. The downside of having so many choices is the task of having to sift through to find the one that will be of most benefit, and of course which ones are available. Some will accept applications on a first come basis, while others will accept only the most qualified students. Courses will vary in length and in cost. Knowing what the student is looking for and having the answers to all of these questions will help streamline the process.
The variety of programs comes with a list of varying benefits and experiences; all that can be tailored for your student’s needs. Sit down with the student and have them identify what they’re looking to achieve out of the experience. Following are some examples that may help pinpoint what programs they should be considering.
- Are they looking to heighten academic credentials?Perhaps they want to solidify their transcript by strengthening their academic skills. Colleges often look at overall grades, despite the selected major.
- What are they hoping to achieve? If they are uncertain about a specific career or education goal, perhaps they can explore arts or sciences and taking a pre-college summer program in one of them may help with the long-term choice
- Is there a desire to hone a specific skillset? If you’re student is considering pursuing a career in the STEM fields, opting to enter a program in physics would improve an existing skillset and therefore place them in an elite group of applicants
- College life – what can they expect? For many students who may be unsure of how they’ll fit into a new environment while transitioning, having the chance to experience college in a hands on environment can be much more informative than a typical campus tour.
Quite often students are surprised to learn at the wide range of programs being offered and how accessible they are. While a significant number are designed for the top-achieving and motivated high school students, they are not limited solely to those in the STEM field, or those seeking PhD’s and Doctorate degrees for example. In fact, some of the courses available will even appeal to your very average student providing an opportunity and college experience that is most rewarding.
Summer programs are a great way for a student to really learn about their options, and in many cases, themselves. Having as much information as possible, however, while investigating programs and schools, courses and lengths, pre-requisites and costs are all necessary tools required to make the right choice.
There are a variety of resources available which will provide you with all the information required to help your student make the right decision. Take advantage of them, and use them to their fullest. Enjoy your summer knowing you’ve given your student the chance to experience their most rewarding summer.
By Nicola Jamieson