by Kate Seaman
Summer is a time of relaxing, sitting in the sun and swimming in the water. It is also a time to expand your horizons culturally or academically.
This summer, thousands of students will attend educational programs. These programs can be related to physics, graphic design, orchestra, photography, foreign language or even genetic coding.
Everyone knows the basic benefit of these programs: They look good on a college resume. But do they really have a benefit beyond simply looking good?
The truth: It’s complicated.
Yes, these programs allow students to broaden their worldviews through immersion into other cultures, academic areas or artistic endeavors. They give students chances to go outside of their comfort zones. Because the programs are outside of students’ hometowns, they also force teens to become friends with those around them and become familiar with new surroundings.
For example, last summer I went to Yellowstone National Park with the program National Geographic Student Expeditions. When I was there, I was nervous because everyone was from all over the country. I had never met people who cared so much about photography and preserving nature. In the end, I am so thankful I went on that trip. I got to see bears, bison and wolves in person. I met people who truly cared about their surroundings. I still talk to many people from that trip and I have the images to remember the experiences.
However, these programs are often expensive and sometimes only accessible to a few students who are financially advantaged. The Pre-College program at Stanford University costs $6,500. The Pre-College program at UCLA costs as much as $4,300. While some programs offer financial aid, there is still a major cost involved in attending academic courses at elite universities or with travel programs.
Overall, academic summer programs offer the chance for new experiences, new friends or new academic knowledge. Despite all of these benefits, though, summer programs are vastly overpriced and are not available for all.