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Pre-college summer programs: what do you recommend?

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  • Avatar NephronDon 
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    I am researching pre-college summer program for my teenagers, and am looking for suggestions from other parents of teenagers. I am trying not to be a Tiger Mom or helicopter parent, but want my kids to find a creative program to give them a focus/aspiration in college, other than a careerist goal of medicine, finance, computer science and law that most would choose, and they maybe unhappy with in the future.

    I am looking for a program that:

    1. Replicates the college experience, socially but not just a replication of a college course for college credit.

    2. Has good after school activities and social events for students, as one of my kids is an introvert (so was I in college),

    3. Creative programs that are not typically taught at high schools, that might spark an interest in a career or major in college.

    I looked into several programs including

    1. Johns Hopkins CTY, Yale, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania (curriculum looks boring).

    2. Brown (some interesting classes, but a lot of liberal arts classes that I know that my kids will hate)

    Programs I liked were Carnegie Mellon and Cornell as they had classes in design, art, drama, computer graphics/game programming, architecture. I am not look for Ivy League here.

     

    #244531 Reply
    CordMcNally CordMcNally 
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    Does your child want to do something like this? I would start there.

    “But investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
    ― Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    #244535 Reply
    Liked by SLC OB, Zaphod, JBME, G
    Avatar JBME 
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    I agree with cord but it you are just exploring:

    The summer between my sophomore and junior years of HS I did a month long program at Columbia. I know you said you’re not looking for ivy but I enjoyed being an adult and getting around NYC myself (though that’s not for every kid). I took a class a class in computer science and hated it

    The summer between freshman and sophomore year I took a six week writing course at Duke. This I enjoyed. The purpose of the course was to learn how to write a good college application essay, so it actually was a worthwhile investment after the program ended. It’s now 20 years later but you could look in duke summer writing programs

    #244538 Reply
    Liked by Zaphod
    Avatar G 
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    Interesting ideas.  I would have loved to do that stuff, but we didn’t have the means.

    Now we have the means and my kid isn’t interested.  Ironic and predictable.

    My vote is playing with the neighborhood kids and doing chores around the house…but that’s likely my public school mentality talking.  😉

    #244539 Reply
    CordMcNally CordMcNally 
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    Interesting ideas.  I would have loved to do that stuff, but we didn’t have the means.

    Now we have the means and my kid isn’t interested.  Ironic and predictable.

    My vote is playing with the neighborhood kids and doing chores around the house…but that’s likely my public school mentality talking.  😉

    Click to expand…

    We mainly did our summer football weightlifting program and spent the rest of the time playing video games and hanging out at the friend’s house who had a pool. It seemed to work out well for everyone.

    “But investing isn’t about beating others at their game. It’s about controlling yourself at your own game.”
    ― Benjamin Graham, The Intelligent Investor

    #244541 Reply
    Liked by med_phys, Zaphod
    Hank Hank 
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    How athletic is your kid?  The military academies have sports camps in the summer for high schoolers.

    I think any summer program has to work on at least two levels.  First, it needs to be interesting and beneficial for the kid.  Second, it should provide at least a little nudge or credit towards potential enrollment at the school.  Spending thousands for a summer program that doesn’t check both of these blocks seems like a poor choice.

    #244543 Reply
    Vagabond MD Vagabond MD 
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    My daughter was enrolled in the pre-college program at Tulane this past summer and had a wonderful experience (hurricane evacuation notwithstanding).

    "Wealth is the slave of the wise man and the master of the fool.” -Seneca the Younger

    #244550 Reply
    Avatar Kamban 
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    My nephew did the 3 or 4 week summer Duke Program. It was expensive fluff. The genetics and other classes were not that great. Many come here with a hope that doing such courses improves their chances of getting into Duke. It doesn’t.

    All these leadership courses at Emory, Brown etc cost $5K+. I am not sure what leadership they get paying that money. Many courses are just money grab.

    If your child is into free foreign languages, look at StarTalk. It is paid for by state Department and offers 2 week summer camps in 6+ languages that they want American kids to learn – Chinese, Farsi, Arabic, Hindi and a couple of others. They combine it with some cultural aspects too. My kid went for 4 years to a local college which is the only one in the state that had the program and learned Chinese. She loved it. Unfortunately she hit the highest level and could not go to another one this past summer. I tried to get her into an immersion program in China but she was <16 years of age and hence not eligible. In addition to summer camps they also get to have weekly or biweekly Skype one hour lessons during Sept-Feb following the camp.

    #244552 Reply
    Liked by Hank, Tim, Anne
    Avatar Anne 
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    If you are a PA resident, check out the Pennsylvania Governor’s Schools. I have yet to meet someone who attended who didn’t love it. Granted, only the types of kids who are inclined to love it get accepted. Funding got cut some years ago but some including the science one at Carnegie Mellon were revived–costs are covered if you can get in.

    #244553 Reply
    Avatar nephron 
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    My kids are far away from a pre-college summer program, but I may be inclined to encourage them to do what I did pre-college- work.   I worked as a bus boy full time during my summers, took summer school classes at my high school to get credits and get ahead.  the most helpful class that I took was a typing class in summer school.  My kids are elementary school age and I may feel differently when they are in high school, but right now, I do think there is value in working and seeing how hard it is to make money at a young age.

    #244586 Reply
    Avatar Tim 
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    With the utmost respect and with great admiration of you ability to avoid being a Tiger Mom or helicopter parent, I would like to compliment on your research and laying out the criteria for selecting summer programs that might be of interest and beneficial to your teenagers. I find it interesting that Ivy’s are not held in high regard (evidenced by you researching them in detail) and you definitely have the goal established and a solid well thought out set of criteria.
    It’s obvious to me you have thought this out very well and far far in advance. Since Labor Day was just observed and school is just starting, your hard work should definitely payoff. As teenagers, I am sure your kids will greatly appreciate your efforts in selecting very enriching programs for NEXT summer for them.

    Another approach, “If you don’t have a job or something productive to do next summer, you will be working outside volunteering for the city parks. I don’t care if you life guard (yes, the need to complete the Red Cross course) or are a day camp counselor at the Y. No one is sleeping in and just hanging out. Don’t sit there, do something. By the way, summer college programs count too.”
    Your plans and options are due by New Years.Then zip it until 1/1/2020.

    Your parental responsibility is to teach them to make decisions and execute. Medicine, finance, computer science, and law are back on the table. Very viable options that can help them make wise choices on their own when needed.

    The best path may be to not make decisions for them. It is probably not necessary to draft personal essays for summer programs.

    Please don’t take this offensively, just sarcastically making a point. Great intent. Make them do the work. Volunteer labor is pretty easy to give away.
    Good luck.

    #244607 Reply
    Avatar Kamban 
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    My kids are elementary school age and I may feel differently when they are in high school, but right now, I do think there is value in working and seeing how hard it is to make money at a young age.

    Click to expand…

    Instead of doing menial jobs which may help in knowing the value of work but does not count towards getting into a good college ( if that is what they aim for) or doing useless volunteering work that neither pays nor counts for much in college admissions ( I think college admissions people are jaded by this volunteering in animal shelter or Haiti for a month ) a better option would be to some internships that look good on paper and come with some referees and also pay a little money. Best of both.

    #244619 Reply
    Liked by NephronDon, Tim
    Avatar NephronDon 
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    Splash Refinancing Bonus

    Thanks for the replies.

    My kids this past summer did dog-walking, volunteering at local library (apparently there is a requirement to do 40-hours of “volunteer” work for their school’s honor society) and ACT prep.

    My personal opinion that a large proportion of college students graduate without an avocation, and instead directed to the usual career paths without a passion: medicine, law, finance and now computer science, or worse aimless without a career, living with parents and with limited employment.

    I like Kamban’s input on StarTalk (personally I think leadership courses are more ego boosts, as leadership is mostly learned not necessarily taught). I don’t mind if my kid goes to a program and hates the subject like JBME’s computer science experience, as long as it is a learning experience and focuses my kid on another career. Better to know now at an early age than wasting time in college finding this out.

    I am looking more that just didactic courses, but something creative. My daughter expresses interest in interior design, so I am looking into pre-college programs in design. If she does poorly, then I just saved myself a ton of money/tuition avoiding sending her to a design school. Summer school tuition is a small price to find this out.

    FYI I went to Ivy League school for undergraduate. I felt that the value of education, was low for the career in medicine as my parents paid full tuition and I received no financial aid. Plenty of physicians got to medical school with in-state public colleges with tuitions less than a third of Ivy League tuition.

    College tuition nowadays is too expensive to allow children to go though without a focus or aspiration. Student loan debt is crushing too many graduates. That being said, I strongly believe that my kids should have a broad based education. My favorite classes in college were music, film appreciation class on Alfred Hitchcock and economics.

    I just went on my alma mater’s website (tuition/room & board approaching $70,000), and put our financial information into the financial aid websites: Amount of financial aid – Zero/zilch as I expected.

     

    #244691 Reply
    Liked by q-school
    q-school q-school 
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    Thanks for the replies.

    My kids this past summer did dog-walking, volunteering at local library (apparently there is a requirement to do 40-hours of “volunteer” work for their school’s honor society) and ACT prep.

    My personal opinion that a large proportion of college students graduate without an avocation, and instead directed to the usual career paths without a passion: medicine, law, finance and now computer science, or worse aimless without a career, living with parents and with limited employment.

    I like Kamban’s input on StarTalk (personally I think leadership courses are more ego boosts, as leadership is mostly learned not necessarily taught). I don’t mind if my kid goes to a program and hates the subject like JBME’s computer science experience, as long as it is a learning experience and focuses my kid on another career. Better to know now at an early age than wasting time in college finding this out.

    I am looking more that just didactic courses, but something creative. My daughter expresses interest in interior design, so I am looking into pre-college programs in design. If she does poorly, then I just saved myself a ton of money/tuition avoiding sending her to a design school. Summer school tuition is a small price to find this out.

    FYI I went to Ivy League school for undergraduate. I felt that the value of education, was low for the career in medicine as my parents paid full tuition and I received no financial aid. Plenty of physicians got to medical school with in-state public colleges with tuitions less than a third of Ivy League tuition.

    College tuition nowadays is too expensive to allow children to go though without a focus or aspiration. Student loan debt is crushing too many graduates. That being said, I strongly believe that my kids should have a broad based education. My favorite classes in college were music, film appreciation class on Alfred Hitchcock and economics.

    I just went on my alma mater’s website (tuition/room & board approaching $70,000), and put our financial information into the financial aid websites: Amount of financial aid – Zero/zilch as I expected.

     

    Click to expand…

    I’m torn.  I went to college on full scholarship and never could have gone without it.  Yet i’m balking at the 70k per year even though i’ve saved diligently and have it in part because i know i’m subsidizing others.  It’s an ethical dilemma for me.  I look at the endowment sizes and just think the universities are gouging people like us-can afford it but definitely not wealthy enough to ignore costs.

    But i think of college as more than just education.  It’s for networking and growth and learning about what’s possible in the world.  Honestly if i knew more about different careers, it would be possible i could have chosen a different profession and been just as happy without all the ‘negatives’ of private practice in medicine.

    there are some elite high schools that offer summer programs.  You may consider those.  My partner was an RA for the Harvard programs.  I worked at CTYs as well during the summers.  In many ways it is expensive babysitting, but at the same time lots of kids made lifelong (or at least twenty year) friends and grew enormously during those programs.   I offered to send my kid to one and he scoffed.

    Good luck.

    #244695 Reply
    Liked by Zaphod, Kamban
    Avatar Tim 
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    Joined: 09/18/2018

    Interior design:
    “The top 10 percent of workers made more than $86,430 a year, while the bottom 10 percent earned less than $25,720.” Payscale says $35-65k where I live.
    Same as a teacher or as a Marketing Associate.
    Funny how a Marketing Manager or a Principal make the $85-$120k.
    Most engineering firms or accounting firms greet new grads with “forget what they taught you, here is what you need to learn to do” so to speak.
    Passion is great, but matching the personality and aptitude to an appropriate education path is more than a summer program unless the summer program leads the child into ruling in or out different disciplines from a career choice decision. It’s the deadends and restarts that are painful. Exploring interests and determining a “match” (just like residency match) is the goal. My daughter worked a summer for a PP plastic surgeon and another for a derm. It solidified she wanted to be a physician, but not favoring those specialties. If you can put various career paths in front of them, they have something to base college choices and majors upon.

    Almost every university has three levels of requirements:
    • University requirements (General exposure)
    • College/school requirements ( Art&Science, Business etc)
    • Major/minor requirements
    You get electives to broaden the scope and interests.
    •At the end, a degree that allows one to pursue employment. No more, no less.

    Literature, agriculture, astronomy and fine arts are great. Linguistics too. You are building a well rounded person, not necessarily a career focused education. That is a great gift for your child too.

    #244709 Reply

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