US University Summer Courses, are they worth the effort?
There is an urban myth abounding: if I do the summer course run by WORLD FAMOUS UNIVERSITY, then I’m much more likely to get in when I apply in the future. So many students are taken in by this idea, when the reality is that just doing a course like this has no impact on your admissibility to that same university.
So, why do I recommend that students take a summer course in the USA?
The ideal time is after GCSEs and before starting Lower Sixth / Grade 11, and I like students to take a course in this summer for two key reasons:
Firstly, many of the students and families I work with have relatively little knowledge of the intricacies of how US universities differ from those in their own country, and thus the student may not be completely aware of how different their university experience could be by going to study in the USA. I’d much rather the student found this out by attending a summer course and, potentially, deciding it’s not for them, than find out while already at that university when the consequences could be much more significant.
Secondly, being surrounded by US High School students of the same age helps my students to really understand that the way in which US families choose a university is very different from how it's done in other countries. Discussions about core curricula, distribution requirements, financial aid, social fit and a range of extra-curriculars are crucial to choosing a US university, and by being around others who are having these thoughts, my students are able to really understand the dialogue we will soon be having about shaping their US college list.
Given this, I’ve found huge benefit in helping students to choose summer courses in the US: two weeks in California or New York can not only be great fun, but can really ease the process of preparing to apply to university.