Preparing for College

Admissions Value of Summer Engineering Program

Question: Does attending a good summer school program help get admission into top 10 engineering schools? My son attended Stanford Summer School last summer and is wondering whether he should another good summer school this year. He is a very bright student and wants to pursue Engineering in one of the top Engineering schools - MIT / Stanford

Showing interest in an academic field, especially one such as engineering that is often not available to students during the school year, is usually a plus at admission-decision time. Admission officials like to see students “put their money where their mouth is” … and their time, as well … by demonstrating interest in their intended major (or in any academic area) rather than merely talking about it on an application. So, yes, it will probably help your son’s admission odds to attend another challenging engineering program this summer. BUT … two warnings:

1. Often parents and students overestimate the admissions currency of such experiences. I’ve known many students who spent the summer on campuses such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Brown who were surprised to be turned down as “real” students later on.

2. While it’s worthwhile for your son to follow his passions in the summer, admission officials are also looking for students with diverse interests and experiences. He should only attend this summer program if he really wants to … and not because he thinks it will look good on his applications. Admission officers are pretty adept at differentiating between applicants who are truly excited about a subject and those whose “interest” comes across as manufactured or mandated by Mom and Dad.

(posted 1/8/2012)