CBO - Winter 2019 Summer Programs Feature

Summer Vacation: A time to get away and learn

After completing a ten month academic cycle spanning from September through June, the last thing many students want to spend their summer doing is attending classes.

But for those motivated by education, enhancing their academic resume by maximizing their summer vacation “freedom” translates to opportunity. Whether it’s through a social engagement program, volunteering with a local organization or pursuing education by enrolling in a summer program, the benefits are tremendous and students should be encouraged to do so.

When it comes to applying to international summer programs, students will often realize this as a way to explore future education. It’s often the experience, the friendships and the memories that students seek, offering them personal growth and education along the way.

For many, enrolling in a precollege program is about gaining knowledge and validating what will be in their not so distant future. Many high school students from across Canada will consider transitioning into a full-time undergraduate program in the U.S. post-secondary; for them, taking part in a summer program can be a treasure chest of insight. 

Pre-college programs, for example, will often take place on college or university campus. Quite often, this will include living in the dorms with students from other countries. The programs themselves may include classroom or lecture type settings, and may include a chance to partake in an extracurricular activity as well. This will encourage students to actively explore, and determine, what campus life after high school and away from home is truly about and if that lifestyle is indeed for them.

Often programs will provide a structured setting and schedule. For many high schools students [living at home] relocating to a new city or town and having to “grow-up” can be a struggle. Taking on that responsibility to become instantly independent immediately upon graduating high school will not always be without challenge. Being able to experience and test oneself through a summer program is another asset that helps students realize what many underestimate when entering college life. Being thrust into an environment where one is now playing “academic Survivor” allows a student to grow and learn what they are truly capable of when they only have to depend on themselves.

The intensity of the shorter programs can be overwhelming to some. But to those individuals that are willing to test themselves, the rewards are bountiful. Imagine a student never having been isolated from friends and family and having to integrate with people they’ve never encountered. Being forced to engage with students in a similar situation but with a completely different cultural background immediately opens the floodway to learning and experience.  Drawing strength from those around you, experiencing the same situation with their unique perspective will enable students to open their minds and see the world through the eyes of others. Upon completion of the program, their lives have become so enriched by even the shortest experience; this largely in part because they were immediately immersed in a new location, a different setting with peers from diverse cultures.

Summer programs will encourage students to attend lectures by motivational speakers that may include successful alumni or influential public figures. The focus may be on making a difference, or improving one’s character; empowering students to take on leadership roles for example as a way to give back. The take away from being able to integrate into a program at this level quite often has students returning with a new self-confidence, self-respect and enhanced character. But finding the right program is imperative. Having a student realize what they’re seeking in a program vs what the program offers is the first step to finding the right match. Not every program is right for everyone.

By Janine LaRue


Summer Program Profiles

Emory University

Idyllwild Arts Academy

University of Connecticut – Pre-College Summer

William and Mary – National Institute of American History & Democracy

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Contact Donna Billey for more information at 1-888-634-5556 x103 or donna@mzpinc.ca.