You really want to attend a specific college when you graduate from college. Let's call it "Dream School." You've got banners from Dream School hanging on your wall and you regularly sport Dream School's colors on jersey day. Walking past your college counselor's office, you see a brochure for Dream School's Summer Program, and you quickly pick up a copy--and decide to apply, hoping your attending the summer program will give you a leg up during the admissions process in a year.
According to this Washington Post article, your attending Dream School's Summer Program might not help as the programs might not be staffed by regular employees, might not focus on the university's specific strengths.
The article makes solid points, ones worth seriously considering when choosing a program. However, there are many excellent summer programs out there that do immerse you into the academic experience at Dream University with dream professors. You just need to be cautious in your choices and reasons. Ask yourself, why do you want to attend a summer program? What's your ultimate purpose? If it's resume padding, then consider whether or not you'd be attending if you weren't applying to college. Are you truly interested in the subject? Passionate about it? Unable to learn more from where you currently are?
Curious students wanting to better understand their futures and explore their passions can--and do--benefit from the programs. However, students should first join a program because of what they can get from it, rather than what the program might be able to offer in the future.
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