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Articles / Applying to College / Admissions Value of Summer Engineering Program

Jan. 8, 2012

Admissions Value of Summer Engineering Program

Question: Does attending a good summer school program help get admission into top 10 engineering schools? My son attended Stanford Summer School last summer and is wondering whether he should another good summer school this year. He is a very bright student and wants to pursue Engineering in one of the top Engineering schools - MIT / Stanford

Showing interest in an academic field, especially one such as engineering that is often not available to students during the school year, is usually a plus at admission-decision time. Admission officials like to see students “put their money where their mouth is” … and their time, as well … by demonstrating interest in their intended major (or in any academic area) rather than merely talking about it on an application. So, yes, it will probably help your son’s admission odds to attend another challenging engineering program this summer. BUT … two warnings:


1. Often parents and students overestimate the admissions currency of such experiences. I’ve known many students who spent the summer on campuses such as Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Brown who were surprised to be turned down as “real” students later on.

2. While it’s worthwhile for your son to follow his passions in the summer, admission officials are also looking for students with diverse interests and experiences. He should only attend this summer program if he really wants to … and not because he thinks it will look good on his applications. Admission officers are pretty adept at differentiating between applicants who are truly excited about a subject and those whose “interest” comes across as manufactured or mandated by Mom and Dad.

(posted 1/8/2012)

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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