I have been accepted to multiple ivy league college summer programs for college credits. Although i am receiving some financial aid, i still have to pay some out of pocket. So my question is, considering they are all online, has anyone done this and was it worth it?
They are totally worth it especially if you received a generous financial aid package to attend. I don't know which ones you got into but the Harvard/Columbia ones are just online while the Yale and Brown ones seem to have on-campus versions that seem more fun and give you a chance to experience being on campus, going to a real classroom with real professors and living in a dorm and eating a dining hall. I think if you got a 50% or better discount on the fees, then it's something to think about because you get to first-hand experience or test-drive what attending an Ivy college will be without taking any risks. I think the experience is worth much more than the credits you earn so I wouldn't value the program based on $$$ dollars per credit because let's face it an Ivy education is like $350,000 proposition these days and very expensive whether you get partial aid or even 75% covered.
Personally, I didn't have the chance to attend because I was cramming to get a 99%+ SAT/ACT score otherwise I would have loved to go and see for myself what the hype was all about. I would pick the Ivy that you think you might want to apply to and attend because that will either solidify your decision or sway you to look at other schools, and it's all good. You don't want to put all your eggs into one Ivy basket when you apply unless for sure you attend. So let's say you like Brown and it's your number 1. Then I would apply Early Decision in the Fall because you already know you love it and want to go there. Plus you'll get a boost because you are not competing with the RD pool of applicants.
Although most people say that if you attend these programs it doesn't help your chances, I tend to disagree a little bit. In my assessment, if you attend these and use your time wisely to engage with the professors and really do an outstanding job, I think they will notice that on your application especially if you write about the experience on the "WHY BROWN Essay prompt" how going to Brown solidified your decision to apply to ED because after attending the pre-college program, you knew that Brown was your number 1 choice and you were not going to apply anywhere else ED. If you have all the stats, grades, essays, and ECs to back up your narrative, then they will take notice of your enthusiasm and eagerness to be a Brown Bear. Since 90% or more applicants to pre-college really don't have a perfect admit profile, I can definitely see how and why they reject a lot of these participants when it comes to formally apply to the school. I think the obvious assumption is that if you are not Brown material, to begin with, don't apply to the pre-college program thinking that attending in itself has intrinsic value to boost your application. I think it helps when you are the kind of admit Brown wants, and you attend the program because it brings 2 parties closer together. So choose wisely upfront and not pick a school unless you are already on track to be a top applicant to attend the school.
Alternatively, if your purpose in attending is to improve your course rigor and get more foundational courses under your belt, there are more economical paths to achieve that. 1.) Online Community or State College, 2.) Online AP classes through online HSs. and 3.) Taking a college course through a portal like Outlier.org. I personally took Calculus and Psychology through outlier for $800. The experience was great, the teachers excellent since you get between 3 and 11, professors per course, and I love getting an official transcript from the Univ. of Pittsburgh with my 2 As and 6 transferable college credits. It's about 1/10th of the price compared to pre-college programs when you factor in it's just $400 per course and not $4000 per course. Math is not my strong subject so I did it over the summer before a senior year because I didn't want to stress out over math while applying to colleges. Therefore I attacked the problem and it worked out great for me in the end. I found out I'm good at Calculus, good enough to get an A at the college level and I actually understood everything because they teach it 3 different ways with 3 different professors and you can pick and choose how you want to learn it: 1.)on the blackboard, 2.) through digital props on a tablet 3.) or through someone explaining it with pen and paper.
Good luck with your summer and your choice.
I have not completed any college summer programs and I don't plan to, but after watching many different videos and looking at some online readings, it seems that the answer is no. If you are doing college courses now simply to reduce the number of courses that you need to take in college, it might not be worth it. This is because if I remember correctly, most universities charge by semester, not by credits (at least for undergraduates). Therefore, taking certain courses now will likely not reduce any costs in college unless you pile enough on in order to graduate early. In addition, there is no guarantee that all of your courses will be accepted in the admissions; in other words, you might take some courses that are not eligible for certain college credits (it depends on which colleges you apply to). As a result, you might just end up spending a lot of money for a very small return, despite your financial aid. If you are taking these courses in order to reduce the workload in college, they might be beneficial. However, because most college credits obtained before college only apply to the first year, the rest of your college career will still be stressful. If stress really is that big of a factor, I advise that you focus on mastering your studying habits first so that you don't get burnt out. And lastly, if you are taking college courses just to look good on college applications, you are not in a good spot. A common misconception is that if you attend a particular college's summer program, then you will have a better chance of getting admitted. This is simply incorrect. Instead, you will be paying large amounts of money for a generally broad or introductory course that takes up much of your time but doesn't give you much in return. Mastering the admissions process is about revealing what you can contribute to a college (e.g. reputation, community, etc.). On the other hand, taking a summer course could be viewed by the admission officers as a sign of desperation (not always the case) because, on the surface, it looks good or an achievement that exists only for the sake of "standing out" and does not show depth or the characteristics of the applicant. And to reiterate, I am definitely not an expert on this since I have not done any summer programs myself, but this is just my opinion based on resources that I have browsed. Hope this helps!
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