I have been accepted to the Hoya Summer Program at Georgetown University. I am very eager to attend that. I also have an idea of starting my own clothing brand which is my dream project for which I have worked hard for about 2 years.
(My dream is to get into a very good business school.)
Due to Covid, my dad's business has been stopped and I should choose any of these : Summer school or my business, as I can't trouble my parents for money during these tough times. I want a suggestion regarding which one I should choose and which one does the universities consider more valuable.
Great question! I'm sure a lot of other students are thinking about university summer programs right now and whether they make sense relative to other opportunities.
I always think there are two ways to approach these types of questions: (1) what are you actually interested in spending your time on and (2) what will maximize the value of your admissions profile. It's worth addressing both because while they tend to overlap, sometimes they don't.
With respect to (1), summer programs at universities can be great experiences that give you an early look into college life, connect you with new people, and help you explore academic interests you haven't been able to in high school just yet. You could find that the program at Georgetown was totally worth it because you left with three new friends and the realization that you absolutely want to study Biology in college -- that's great!
With respect to (2), summer programs at universities don't confer that much admissions value and the reason is they're actually not as competitive as you might think. They have a prestigious name behind them, but keep in mind that a small sliver of students actually can attend these because of the cost. So whatever competitive application process you think you went through, know that a ton of otherwise competitive students for it were barred at the start because they don't have a few thousand dollars to spend. So I always advise students that paid summer programs have relatively low admissions value (and universities know this). That's why in the CV extracurricular tier system, you'll see that paid summer programs are Tier I (just above the lowest tier for paid programs that don't require an application). Despite the low admissions value, I wouldn't disregard the value you get from an experience perspective that I noted above.
Compared to your own business, you might find that if you're sufficiently committed to pursuing it (as in, you're willing to spend 20+ hours a week this summer dedicated to it), you may find that it maximizes both experience (1) and admissions value (2). Experience because it's always rewarding to build something yourself and get exposure to your own initiatives. Admissions value because colleges love to see students take their own initiatives and be successful with them. From an EC tier perspective, browse "Own Initiative" to see the different gradations of them and what can contribute the most value. If it's something you're going to do super casually and only put in a few hours, then you won't get much of anything out of it. So I guess I'd just ask you to think about what your ambition is for the project and how far you want to take it. And then go for it. But if the ambition is low, then it's probably not worth it.
Hope this helps!
To keep this community safe and supportive: