3 Key Benefits Of Summer School Programmes
Gone are the days when children spent their summer holidays whiling away time parked in front of a TV screen for days on end or frolicking at a countryside home by a lake. With the competitive nature of university applications, it’s become increasingly important for students to use their summers as an opportunity for advancement.
And while for some parents this is more of a CV-building opportunity to pad university applications with attendance at programmes at brand-name colleges, that’s only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the enrichment that summer programmes can provide.
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1/3Choice and customisation
There is an almost limitless choice of programmes, though frequently with acceptance rules that are not as stringent as they could be. It’s easy to send your child to Cambridge, for example, except that many of the courses that take place on its campus aren’t endorsed by the university and are run by external parties.
“One should be aware that many UK programmes are not run by the schools or the universities, which simply lend the space for rental,” cautions Jennifer Ma, the co-founder of admissions adviser ARCH Education.
“For example, there are many Oxford and Cambridge summer courses, but they differ by pedagogy, academic rigour and faculty quality. So conducting some research and seeking former pupils’ or third-party consultants’ advice may be helpful. It’s important to tailor the summer programme to the individual student. Our team works together to review the student’s academic interests, hobbies and overall profile to come up with tailored recommendations that suit that student’s individual needs.”
2/3Expand kids' horizons
"I honestly don’t think there is such a thing as the best programme or school, only the best fit based on a student and a family’s preferences,” says Renée Boey, founder of Baker & Bloom, an educational institution that teaches students soft skills and pushes creative thinking.
“It’s helpful to think carefully about what your kids love but normally do not have the opportunity or the support to fully develop. Hobbies and interests like photography, animation, neuroscience, archaeology, drama and creative writing can be taken to a much higher level at a strong summer programme.
Prep schools and universities value students who know themselves and have taken the initiative to pursue their interests in a meaningful way. It’s hard to know your own interests and beliefs sometimes unless you have time to reflect or delve deeply into an area of fascination. Summer school can provide those opportunities.”
“If it is a programme to enhance your child’s interests, then ensure it provides a different dimension to their learning,” adds Ma. “If your child enjoys writing, then find one that does a specific type of writing, for example, poetry or scriptwriting. Size and length are particularly important here, as longer programmes with fewer participants mean that the child will gain more.”
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Academics isn’t the only aspect of a summer programme that can be enriching. For many, this could be their first time living abroad or away from their parents and the associated creature comforts. Natalie Chan, the founder and CEO of OWN Academy, which seeks to empower students to take charge of their futures beyond academic learning, is a proponent of the social learning that takes place at a boarding summer school.
“Summer is the prime time for students to break out of their comfort zone and join an overseas camp to experience living away from home,” she says. “It’s also important to not go with friends—to go solo, learn to be independent and, most importantly, learn to make friends with people from different parts of the world and understand how people from different cultures and backgrounds see the world.”
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