Published February 22, 2023

If you’re looking ahead to college, you’re likely already undertaking efforts to prepare—tackling challenging classes, fine-tuning your GPA, and exploring extracurricular activities. But when it comes to additional academic opportunities, you may be wondering, “are summer programs worth it?” For many students, the answer is yes. Pre-college summer programs can be an invaluable way to explore new areas of interest, get a head start on college, bolster your résumé, and forge meaningful connections with mentors and peers.

What Is a Pre-College Program?

A pre-college program is a college-level educational experience designed to provide academic exploration and allow high-school-age students to experience college life. In-person pre-college programs allow you to immerse yourself in the college campus experience, attending classes with your peers, staying in a residence hall, dining with classmates, and making use of the college or university’s libraries, labs, and other facilities. Many programs offer off-campus exploration through field trips to museums, sporting events, city tours, and other activities. Online pre-college programs, on the other hand, allow you to complete college-level course work and connect with classmates and instructors from the comfort of your own home, often on a schedule that works best for you.

Whether in person or online, pre-college programs are offered in a wide range of subjects. Johns Hopkins University’s Summer at Hopkins Pre-College Programs, for example, explore topics like:

Benefits of Pre-College Summer Programs

By engaging in a high-quality pre-college program, you can earn college credit, build your résumé, and gain knowledge in an area of interest. You may also find a pre-college program helps you build confidence, develop important soft skills, and explore interests in a way that allows you to make informed decisions about your future academic and career paths. Plus, pre-college programs are fun!

Through a quality pre-college summer program you can:

Get Ahead in The College Process

With a pre-college program, you’ll get a jump-start on college life. If you attend an in-person summer program, you’ll get a taste of what it’s like to live and learn on campus. When you attend online, you’ll have the same opportunity to engage in college-level academics and to connect with academically advanced peers. You may even earn college credit that you can carry with you when you attend college or university. For example, all Summer at Hopkins Pre-College Programs earn one college credit.

Strengthen Your College Application

Some colleges favor applications that include time spent in pre-college summer programs; others state that attending these programs will not influence their admissions decisions. Regardless of whether a school “counts” time in a program, it never hurts to demonstrate that you’ve shown interest in academics over summer breaks.

Your pre-college experience may also offer opportunities to acquire knowledge or skills that enhance your application in more subtle ways. A creative writing pre-college program may be a great way to begin—or polish—a poem or short story you send along with your college application as supplemental material. An introduction to surgery program might yield the sort of growth experience that great college essays are made of. And studying any topic intensely over the summer might give you the conviction you need to explain to college admissions committees why you want to be admitted to a particular undergraduate program.

Pursue—or Discover—Your Passion

Pre-college programs offer the chance to explore your interests and potential career path in a supportive and challenging environment, helping you to make informed decisions about your future studies.

At Summer at Hopkins, for example, we often hear from students who say their time in the Medical School Intensive Pre-College Program cemented their interest in one day going to medical school, or that the Neurobiology: Cellular and Systems Pre-College Program showed them just how much they want to pursue further education in scientific research.

Whether you choose a topic area that’s a likely future path or you opt to study for no other reason than sheer curiosity, the intensive nature of such programs—students typically spend several weeks focused on one area of study—means you’ll have a concentrated block of time to dive deep into a topic that interests you.

Assess a College’s Fit

If possible, you can—and should—talk to college admissions representatives, scour websites, and tour colleges you think you might want to attend. But being on campus for several weeks is a wonderful way to truly get to know a school. Even online programs can give you a feel for a school’s academics and learning community, as can attending in person as a commuter.

While engaged in an in-person summer pre-college program, you will get a feel for the campus, the culture, and the facilities and resources offered to students. By the time you leave, you’ll have a good idea of whether or not it’s a place you’d like to spend your undergraduate years.

Meet New Friends and Mentors

The college years are often a time when students establish some of their strongest and most enduring friendships. Pre-college programs offer the opportunity to start building those relationships in advance. The most reputable programs attract students from diverse backgrounds and countries, providing a rich environment for making new connections.

At a high-quality pre-college program, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn from and connect with expert instructors who are committed to excellence in education.

Discover Why Pre-College Summer Programs are Worth it at JHU

For an experience you won’t forget, look no further than Summer at Hopkins. We offer three two-week sessions, with on-campus and online course options. Sessions run from late June to early August and admitted students are welcome to enroll in one, two, or all three sessions.

Summer at Hopkins also offers Summer Term undergraduate courses, open to JHU and visiting undergraduate students as well as qualified pre-college students. On-campus undergraduate courses run for five weeks, while online courses last five to 10 weeks.

Contact us today to learn more about Summer at Hopkins Pre-College Programs and Summer Term undergraduate courses.

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