Are College Summer Programs Worth It?


After spending a week at Vanderbilt University’s Summer Academy, I say YES! My experience was extremely positive and has given me more than I could have expected. I met amazing people, studied with a brilliant college professor, and felt like I was living through a college trial-run. Upon my first arrival at Vanderbilt’s campus, I was mostly unaware of what the week would include and was nervous that I would feel unfulfilled by the experience. By my second day of class,I found myself wondering why I hadn’t applied for more college summer programs in the past. I never could have imagined that just one week on a college campus would be so influential.

My personal favorite part of the program was the opportunity to meet plenty of incredible students. I met students from Malaysia, Italy, and even one from Miami, who I hadn’t known before our coincidental trip to Vanderbilt. From my roommate to my classmates, the unfamiliar faces I encountered on day 1 quickly turned into lifelong friends, and everyone inspired me in a different way. Their kindness, intelligence and work ethic inspired me to become a more organized and efficient student. Most importantly, the memories that I created with these people from around the world are unique and irreplaceable. From our free-time volleyball games to our walks around campus, and even our time working on class projects, every moment was meaningful.

Junior Gabriela Noriega had a similar experience while studying medicine for a week at University of North Carolina.

“My time at UNC gave me the opportunity to meet incredibly kind and ambitious people. Everyone was amazing, and helped to make my experience unforgettable,” said Noriega.

Applying for the program was a great way to narrow down interests for a future college major. To grow familiar with topics that interest me, I chose to apply for a class that reflected my love of writing and public speaking. I studied in a course called “Rhetorical Advocacy and Criticism”, which assigned plenty of class speeches and included deep analysis of famous political addresses. I enjoyed the course more than I expected to, and learned valuable information that I will carry with me for years. Alongside my selected course, Vanderbilt offered courses in biology, anthropology, law, and a variety of other topics. Colleges across the nation offer a multitude of topics for summer programs, which gives everyone a chance to find a program that suits them, and helps in discovering a path for their own upcoming college years.

Junior Alexandra de Cardenas spenttime this summer at Duke University, and was immersed in a medical course.

“My favorite part of going to a college summer program was meeting people from all over the country and getting to learn and have experience with a career that I want to pursue in the future,” said de Cardenas.

Senior Paola Lista in front of Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of Education.

Everyone’s experience with a college summer program is unique, and I highly recommend giving it a try. The thought of walking into a college-like lifestyle, away from home and surrounded by strangers can be uncomfortable, but it can lead to something unforgettable. In just a few days, these programs can provide you with life-changing lessons and introduce you to inspiring people. I encourage high school students to make the most of their summer by venturing out of comfort zones and getting a head start on the future.