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Articles / Applying to College / Will On-Campus Summer Program Boost Admission Odds?

Aug. 6, 2004

Will On-Campus Summer Program Boost Admission Odds?

Question: I am interesting in doing an academic program during the summer before my senior year. Should I enroll in a summer program at the university that I am interested in attending? Will it give me that extra foot in the door if I do so?

Taking a summer course on a college campus may--or may not--give you a leg up at the school where the program is held. It depends a lot on the institution involved. When I worked at Smith College, for instance, we did pay special heed to applicants who had taken part in Smith's summer program in science and engineering. It wasn't as if every summer-program student was automatically admitted, but it was a plus for the borderline candidates.


At the exalted Ivy level, spending a summer on campus is probably not likely to help with an affirmative admission decision, but you may get lucky and land in a class that is taught by a professor who is a member of that school's faculty and with whom you make a special connection. Sometimes (and it doesn't happen often) this prof can send a letter of support for you to the admissions office, and that may have some bearing (albeit not huge) on your admission outcome.

Keep in mind, too, that some programs that are held on a college campus are not sponsored by the host school but by an outside organization that is simply renting the space. While the program may help to give you a sense of whether you like this campus and the community it's located in, don't choose it simply because you think it's an express lane to an affirmative admission decision, because it won't be.

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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