Whether you opt for a 1-week or an 8-week course, summer programs offer a preview of university life in a nutshell. You will get to experience the newness of living with roommates, the inclusion of participation in campus community activities, the rigor of comprehending university-level content, and the excitement of exploring new academic interests. You can choose to stay on-campus (Residential), travel from your place of residence (Commuter) or attend online (Virtual).

On a general note, it is advised to start researching opportunities in advance and apply for summer programs anywhere between January and April. For more competitive summer programs that have comprehensive admission processes such as YYGS or Wharton Global Youth Program, students are encouraged to meet the early deadline in the first week of February. Courses and programs begin filling up fast which is why the earlier you submit your application, the better chances you have of getting accepted into your desired course or program.

Ask yourself if the subject area/focus of the course is one that matches your interests (interests that you have worked on developing or wish to develop - either in your field of study or otherwise), if the university you are going to is one that you are aiming to apply to in the future, and if the program will help you in building long-term skills while you are in high school. Read up on the course descriptions and modules for shortlisted courses with your counselor before you apply. You also need to make sure that the course is manageable alongside your other summer commitments, and the duration of the program suits your travel plans and internship commitments.

Credits provide you with university units that will be taken into account when you are in university. They can count towards specific courses and allow you to take advanced courses earlier, either as part of your major or as electives (additional courses you take outside of your major to fulfill graduation requirements). Most summer programs will state how many credits/units the course would count as. Keep in mind that choosing a Non-credit course does not put you at a disadvantage experientially, as many of these courses will be as rigorous as For-credit programs.

You should apply to anywhere between 3-5 programs depending on your individual goals and interests. Since most applications require an accumulation of supporting documents, essays and recommendations, it can become overwhelming applying to too many, not to mention a decrease in self-confidence if it results in several rejections. On the contrary, applying to too few can limit potential opportunities that can positively impact your academic profile.

While attending a summer program does not guarantee your admission into any university, you need to stop and think about why you are taking one in the first place. If your answer is to either explore a field of study you are potentially interested in or to take your passion of a specific subject to the next level, then attending a summer program will give you the competitive edge when it comes to university admissions. It also increases your knowledge about universities in general,enabling you to make informed decisions when it will be time to curate a university list and schedule campus visits.

The deciding factors should be relevance to major, competitiveness, and credits offered. One program that provides a general overview of STEM subjects would be less attractive to universities than one specifically tailored to computer engineering if you were targeting that as a major, for instance. Also, for-credit courses often convey greater legitimacy, as the courses themselves must be at a university level to offer credits, which can be transferred to the university that you ultimately attend.

Look into the deposit deadlines for the second-choice program, and see if it provides you sufficient time to hear back from your first-choice program. If not, you will need to put down a deposit for the second-choice program which you would then forfeit if you are admitted into your first choice program. One way to mitigate these issues is to apply to your second-choice programs a few weeks after your first-choice programs, but still before the deadlines.

Students who are commuting attend the lectures/seminars/workshops during the length of the day and then return to off-campus housing (family home, hotel, family friend’s house). They can either opt to include meal plans or arrange for their own meals. Commuters are encouraged to join discussions after class and invited for evening activities and games. Residential students' costs usually include tuition fee, meals, room, and board. Roommates are pre-assigned taking age and cultural/religious differences into account. Dorm configurations can include single, double, triple or quad occupancy (traditional rooms or separate sleeping and living spaces). Residential Advisors are on premise 24/7 and supervise dorm activities to ensure student safety.

While there are more benefits to attending an in-person summer course, don’t hesitate from applying for a virtual program. Constant improvements in virtual learning platforms, especially post-Covid, are allowing students to take advantage of interactive workshops, virtual mentorship opportunities, and online extracurricular events in real-time.

Students who are uncertain about what subject they want to major in are hesitant to apply for pre-university programs, and this should not be the case at all. Attending a summer program will allow you to explore a range of academic subjects enabling you to hone in on a specialist topic down the road. In addition, it will help you prepare for university life, enhance your resume, attain exposure to a specific university, and most importantly make new connections with like-minded individuals from around the world.

Don’t be disheartened if you are not accepted into any of the summer programs you have applied to. Take the opportunity to apply for an internship, prepare for your SAT/ACT exams, enroll in a volunteering activity, or begin a personal project.

US programs are better quality than the UK and Europe, but Oxbridge programs are still reputable (still not as high quality though). Summer programs are a great way to show your familiarity with high-difficulty, university-level courses, and outside of the US they tend to be less rigorous and less selective than US programs. Even within the US system, there is a hierarchy of summer program quality (think YYGS vs Columbia).

Whether you are attending an in-person or virtual program, stay behind after class ends to engage in stimulating discussion with classmates and be sure to network with professors and graduate students so you can utilize their advice and feedback at a later stage. Participating in campus activities will allow you to better understand which clubs and organizations to join during your university years. Use your time efficiently by scheduling campus visits to nearby universities before or after your program.

Students who are applying for non-credit courses can enroll in the program using a tourist visa (B1/B2). More often than not, students applying for credit courses will need to be issued an F-1 visa.

If the summer program lasts for a short period, usually less than 90 days, international students may be eligible to participate on a visitor or tourist visa, depending on the country's immigration policies. These visas allow temporary stays without the need for a specific student visa like the F-1. Certain summer programs may not be academically oriented or provide credits towards a degree. These programs could be cultural exchanges, language immersion, or recreational activities. Since they are not formal academic programs, they may have different visa requirements. Some countries may have specific exemptions or visa waiver programs in place for certain nationalities. These programs allow citizens of particular countries to visit for tourism, business, or short-term educational purposes without obtaining a specific student visa. International students should always check with the program organizers and the relevant immigration authorities to determine the appropriate visa requirements for their specific situation.

Students who have been accepted into a summer program and whose start date is before their current visa appointment can qualify for an expedited emergency visa appointment. Click HERE for more details.

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