Preparing for College

Will On-Campus Summer Program Boost Admission Odds?

Question: I am interesting in doing an academic program during the summer before my senior year. Should I enroll in a summer program at the university that I am interested in attending? Will it give me that extra foot in the door if I do so?

Taking a summer course on a college campus may--or may not--give you a leg up at the school where the program is held. It depends a lot on the institution involved. When I worked at Smith College, for instance, we did pay special heed to applicants who had taken part in Smith's summer program in science and engineering. It wasn't as if every summer-program student was automatically admitted, but it was a plus for the borderline candidates.

At the exalted Ivy level, spending a summer on campus is probably not likely to help with an affirmative admission decision, but you may get lucky and land in a class that is taught by a professor who is a member of that school's faculty and with whom you make a special connection. Sometimes (and it doesn't happen often) this prof can send a letter of support for you to the admissions office, and that may have some bearing (albeit not huge) on your admission outcome.

Keep in mind, too, that some programs that are held on a college campus are not sponsored by the host school but by an outside organization that is simply renting the space. While the program may help to give you a sense of whether you like this campus and the community it's located in, don't choose it simply because you think it's an express lane to an affirmative admission decision, because it won't be.