Will Passing Up Summer on Elite Campus Hurt Admission Odds?
Question: I am an international high school sophomore and am wondering if I will be at a disadvantage if I did not attend summer programs in the States, because I was thinking of applying to a program at Yale or Stanford, but then I decided to go to China and the UAE to study Chinese and French because I am really interested in languages. I'm really paranoid I would decrease my admit chances. Will I?
No, you will not be at a disadvantage at all. College admission officials see SO many on-campus summer programs on applications that your somewhat more atypical activities will not hurt you and might even help. While admission folks are mildly pleased to note that some students pursue an academic passion by enrolling in "college classes" during the summer, taking a class at an elite institution does very little (and often nothing) to boost admission odds, especially at the most hyper-selective schools.
Frankly, the endeavors that students pursue in the summer following 10th grade rarely carry much weight in the admissions process, unless they are truly uncommon and inspiring, so you should definitely make your choice based on your interests and not on what the grapevine may have told you is important.
Safe travels …