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Super Summer Plans

March, 2014
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international-business-groupSummer time! School is done for the year and whether you plan to study, get a job, travel or do nothing at all, the options are many for what to do next.

I think of summer as the time to discover and explore your own interests, and for those focused on staying active, summer enrichment programmes provide an incredible way to pursue your academic passions, strengthen your college applications, and travel the world! 

A good summer programme should provide students with the opportunity to pursue these dreams and discover new interests. Whether you’re already enrolled in a summer programme or have never left home, the following should to help families to understand the advantages of attending a summer programme, how to choose the right programme, and how to prepare for the experience of a lifetime.


Benefits of a Summer Programme


It’s well known that summer programmes help students to strengthen their college applications, improve their resumes and show university admissions officers a commitment to specific academic fields. Some advantages however, such as the development of interpersonal skills and self-confidence, are often overlooked.

College preparation. Summer programmes on a college campus expose students to the college experience and help to prepare them for life after high school graduation. In a short period of time, students learn how to adjust to new environments and gain an understanding of new cultures very different from their own. College is an exciting time for students as they take on more responsibility, though the first few months can sometimes be overwhelming for students who have not yet had the opportunity to live on their own. Attending a summer programme is a great way for students to learn to be independent while still in a safe and supportive environment.

in-classExploring career paths. Summer programmes give students the opportunity to explore unique academic interests and provide a springboard to pursue those interests in college and throughout their careers. Whether you’re interested in business, technology, social sciences or anything in between, exploring your passions through summer programmes provides valuable insight toward these exciting career paths. You will meet other students from around the world with similar interests, as well as supportive instructors who will share their own experiences of transitioning from student to professional.  

Developing personal skills. The most rewarding experience I have every programme is seeing the transformation of shy students making new friends and building lasting relationships. Students often arrive worried whether they will make friends or enjoy their new environment. Very quickly their self-confidence improves through new friendships and they are always sad to leave these friends on the last day. Students leave our programmes more confident in themselves and their ability to relate to others. Though this type of learning is often difficult to measure, it usually has the most profound effects on students’ lives.

The learning process is very important for students – not only how they learn new classroom concepts but also learning to strengthen these interpersonal skills, the ‘glue’ that helps students to navigate young adulthood. As students achieve their educational goals they will learn new competencies and technical skills, but the magnitude of their success may ultimately lie in the strength of their ‘glue’ that holds it all together.

This is particularly important for students whose first language is not English. These experiences help students to feel comfortable communicating with native English speakers and achieve success in their first year of college. Those who have not engaged in these types of programmes often find adapting to college life much more difficult. 


Choosing a Programme That’s Right For You


As you explore different programmes, remember that each one may not be right for every student. When evaluating different programmes, we recommend that you prioritize what it is that you would like to accomplish, identify what each programme offers and recognize your limiting constraints.

What do I want to accomplish?Consider your academic objectives as well as your personal goals. Identify what areas interest you and what your true passions are by talking with your family and college counsellors. Mathias, a recent graduate of our game design programme commented that, “Attending this programme made me realize that creating my own video games is what I truly want to do with my life.” The programme you’re considering should have a mission and objectives that match well to your own.

bite-of-seattleWhat does the programme offer? Make sure you and your family understand the level of support you will receive abroad. Analyze the out of class activities and excursions and decode if they are the best of what each city has to experience? Ask where you will be eating, sleeping, learning and spending your time. Identify what level of care students will receive from the school or organization and other services that might be included such as a travel protection programme or mobile telephones.

What are my constraints?Programmes can vary widely in cost. Decide on your budget and focus on programmes within it. Keep in mind that the quoted price for most programmes is rarely all-inclusive and though we provide our students with all of the following, some programmes may require students to pay for additional things like airport pickups, phones, insurance, activities and meals. There are often programmes that offer scholarships, so be sure to ask upfront before it’s too late.

Always consider how a programme fits into the rest of your summer, keeping in mind other commitments such as family trips and college visits. Students should also identify if programmes have specific language or grade point average requirements before they apply.

Where to go? With seemingly endless educational opportunities around the globe, it can be difficult to zero in on your favourite place. To pick a destination you’ll need to reflect on what you are specifically hoping to get out of your summer abroad.

A student looking for a new cultural experience filled with beaches might choose a very different location than a student looking for a rigorous academic schedule surrounded by ancient architecture. Wherever you choose, it’s always a good idea to speak to students who’ve studied in that area of the world and ask them about their experiences.


How to Prepare for a Summer Programme


There are some things that every student should have prepared before packing their bags.

Make sure you apply for your passport early and ensure it is valid for at least 6 months past your return date. Check the visa requirements of the country(s) you will be visiting. Consult with your physician for recommended immunizations, and be sure to let staff know ahead of time if you have specific physical or medical concerns they should know about. Bring appropriate credit cards, bank cards, local currency and develop a detailed plan with your parents in case of emergency.


Getting Started


When choosing a programme, there are many resources available to help students make the right decision. Naviance is an excellent online resource initiated by high school and college counsellors to help students succeed through the college application and admissions process. Other great resources are www.teenlife.com and www.goabroad.com, which students can use to navigate through a variety of summer programmes around the world.

Lastly, don’t forget to speak with your school counsellor or international advisor, who will always be excited to tell you about their favourite programmes.

Summer enrichment programmes are an incredibly unique and adventurous opportunity to experience something new. We encourage all students to find a programme that will accomplish your academic goals and enhance your personal growth. Whatever programme you end up choosing, get ready for the time of your life!


By Olen Anderson

Managing Director of Experience America


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