Summer is a time that offers endless of opportunities: students have the option of recharging and the possibility of finding a program that offers the opportunity to engage, learn something new, and be inspired. For those of us who are life-long learners the summer possibilities are endless. But how can we decide how best to spend a summer break?
It is important that before finally deciding on what to do in the summer, you take time to reflect on what do you hope to get out of it. Do you want to use the summer as a reflective period? If so, spending time away from technology and social media might be the right choice for you. I used to spend part of my summers in a secluded area in southern Mexico learning about nature, reading novels, and putting into practice what I had learned in my botany class by collecting all sorts of leaves. At the same time, I combined my summers with a two to four week summer program to learn new mathematical concepts. While, there is not a one-size-fits-all for the summer experience, this time of the year allows you to push yourself out of your comfort zone, improve your learning muscle and discover a new interest that can potentially change what you hope to do during your college years.
One of the best ways to engage in self-discovery is to spend time in a college campus to determine if a given subject area is the one you would like to explore further when committing yourself at a four-year institution or if that particular institution is one you want on your college list.
Junior and Senior Programs: If you are interested in choosing thought-provoking courses that will help you develop your critical thinking, analytical, and presentation skills while providing you with new lenses for viewing the world, this is a great fit for you. Furthermore, you will have an opportunity to experience undergraduate life both inside and outside the classroom in a college campus. Some great alternatives are: Wellesley Pre-College Program ; Harvard Pre-College Program ; Notre Dame Summer Scholars ; Washington University in Saint Louis ; Carnegie Mellon. Applications for some of these programs usually open in November and spots fill up quickly. Make sure to apply early.
- Writing Programs: One of the ways to succeed in college and the world is by having superb writing skills. Hence, these programs will allow you to get ready for most of your summer courses while honing your writing abilities to excel in the profession of your choice. Some great options are: Boston University Summer Challenge; Lake Forest College Writing and Thinking Workshop; Northwestern Medill School of Journalism Cherub Program; Carleton College Summer Writing Program.
- Engineering Programs: These programs are ideal if you are interested in exploring the academic and career opportunities in the various fields of engineering; apply your knowledge of math and science; get hands-on experience in engineering projects; or conduct university-laboratory research under a faculty mentor. Washington University in Saint Louis Pre-Engineering Institute ; Cornell Engineering ; University of Notre Dame Introduction to Engineering ; Johns Hopkins University Engineering Innovation Program.
- Business Programs: Perhaps you are interested in developing your entrepreneur interests in a close knit community while developing a real venture of your own; honing your teamwork and communication skills in the business setting; or finding out more about how to understand sport as a business. If so, you may wish to explore the following possibilities: Babson College Entrepreneurial Development Experience ; Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania Leadership in the Business World Program ; Ithaca College Introduction to Sports Management .
- Leadership Programs: If you are someone with outstanding leadership skills interested in a career in global diplomacy or intrigue by the possibility of connection with future world leaders, these two programs offer an outstanding opportunity to reach this goal: Georgetown University International Relations Program for High School Students ; University of Notre Dame Global Issues .
The most important thing when discerning a summer program is to keep in mind that this endeavor is a way for you to discover yourself, to learn about new interests, or decide to follow an alternate path. Whatever you do, do not pick a program thinking it will guarantee you acceptance at a given school, but look at it as an opportunity to learn and when completing your college application think about how this summer experience has changed you and how has prompt you to further explore certain possibilities during your time in college. Do not forget to meet the application deadlines for the summer programs!
About the Author:
Adela Penagos, PhD, Futuro Enlightened's President, has 16 years of academic advising, teaching, and admissions experience between Harvard University, the University of Notre Dame, and Boston College allowing her to help students not only to be admitted to college or graduate school but to find success in college and beyond. She has a wealth of experience guiding students to put forth the best possible application for undergraduate, graduate, law, and medical programs and to excel once into the program of choice. She is passionate about helping students reach their potential.
Adela has a BA in Modern Languages from Knox College, cum laude, an MA in Spanish Literature from the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD in Hispanic Language and Literatures from Boston University. She is fluent in Spanish, English, and French and has lived in Mexico, France, and the United States.
Adela Penagos is a college admissions expert and can be contacted directly at: email@example.com