Being Summer Smart

Students in the Outdoor Leadership class enjoy their surroundings at ISSOS Yale. - Photo Courtesy of ISSOS

Summer programs have been in existence for many years – from traditional multi activity summer camps to specialist schools – there has never been any doubt that young people benefit greatly from attending such programs. In addition, over the last 10 years, the availability of Pre-college summer programs and schools has been on the rise with the benefits to students known to be far reaching.

For young people considering university and looking for a taste of what university life can be like, a recognized summer school is a great way to give students the experience in a fully supervised environment whilst giving them a feeling of independence.

Attending a summer program allows students to experience life away from home, meaning they are better prepared for when the time comes to leave for university.  When else can a 16 year old live on campus within the University Halls, dine with others in the morning, noon and night, attend classes they have chosen as opposed to ones they must attend, and have the freedom to explore the campus relaxing with peers over coffee and enjoying the state of the art facilities? Attending a summer program is a unique opportunity to experience all of this, and do so in a safe, supervised environment.

Summer programs based on university campuses tend to be academic summer schools with a number of options for students to choose from depending on what they are looking for in such a program. They may choose to take courses not offered at high school and often these are taught to university level. Popular courses that summer schools provide include: Debate, Study Skills, Essay Writing, Leadership and Business Studies. Although these may not always be the subjects students specifically wish to study at university, if taught to a higher level by qualified professionals in an inclusive and safe setting, students can gain academic skills that will benefit them throughout their time at high school and beyond. It may also intrigue them and spark an interest in a university course that they had previously not given consideration to.  As summer schools teach in a more experiential way than traditional every day school, students are involved in the learning process and this often results in a deeper form of learning and applicable skills. These programs often cover public speaking and presentation skills as well as helping students to develop leadership skills that help them both socially and in an academic setting. 

As well as the benefits of living on campus and studying a subject that may not be available at high school, there are other key benefits that cannot be ignored. 

Develop a Social Understanding By choosing a genuine International Summer School (meaning one that caters to a wide nationality mix and does not have a large percentage of one nationality) the benefits to young people are phenomenal. When students from a number of different nationalities come together under one roof, they learn about one another’s culture, religion, education, politics and general thinking. They learn to challenge each other in a healthy and supportive environment and ultimately, it brings people together in an international setting, breaking down a number of social barriers, creating a greater social understanding and giving young people exposure to different cultures, helping them to realise we are all connected. Suddenly the world around them becomes more relevant, more connected and in turn, it breeds a much-needed tolerance.

Increase Confidence and Social Skills

One of the most documented benefits of attending a summer program is the confidence it gives so many young people. Many of them have not been away from home for a prolonged period of time; attending a summer school allows them to do so in a supervised and supportive environment that has been specifically designed for them. This newfound confidence is not just social; it can also instil an academic confidence depending on the type of summer program chosen. The social skills developed at a residential summer school are far reaching. Students learn to interact and make friends from day one. For many, this is the first time in a long time that they have had to make new friends or interact with people on a daily basis whom they do not know which is great practice for when students begin university. 

Gives Students the Edge when Applying to University

University admissions are now more competitive than ever, with students from around the world competing against one another to gain a place in their choice of subject. So how can someone stand out from the crowd when submitting their application? If everyone is achieving the required grades, participating in extra curricular activities at school, taking on volunteering roles and generally going the extra mile, is there anything else that can be done to make university applications stand out? Attending a pre-college summer program can do just that. Students who choose to spend part of their summer vacation studying, meeting people from around the world and having new cultural experiences, demonstrate a willingness to learn and experience new things, a trait admired by university admissions teams. Spending the summer taking an academic class and engaging in activities in a residential setting identifies to the admissions team their eagerness to learn and stand out from their peers. Everything they take away from these experiences can benefit them if and when they are invited to an admissions interview.

Summer school is also a lot of fun! It allows students to spend a few weeks at a top university campus with people from around the world who all have a common goal – to learn new skills and meet new friends. Attending a summer school is the perfect way to introduce a young person to life at university in an engaging environment and takes the mystery (and sometimes trepidation) out of what living away from home will be like, whilst at the same time, adding to their academic achievements and experiences.

There are a number of programs available within Canada for students to consider. If your student is looking to study abroad, the possibilities are endless as are the resources. ISSOS International Summer Schools for example provides access to such programs at world-renowned locations, which include St Andrews, Cambridge and Yale Universities. There are many other programs and institutions offer a similar experience. Application deadlines will typically run through late spring so encourage your students to explore more, today.

By: Jen Munro

Author Bio:
Jen Munro is Founder and Managing Director of ISSOS International Summer Schools. Launched in 2006, ISSOS welcomes students, aged 13 – 18 from over 70 nationalities to summer programs based at St Andrews, Cambridge and Yale Universities. ISSOS now welcomes over 600 students every summer and employs over 100 summer staff. Jen has developed ISSOS to become the leading name in summer school education and is known as an educational entrepreneur.