Hello there. I'm deciding whether I should apply for a $2700 three-week in-person Pre-College Critical Reasoning course at UW-Madison. It's expensive, and I'm not sure I should spend the money on it.
Here is the course description: Learn how to identify and evaluate arguments with the skills of logicians, lawyers and debaters. Examining arguments from both popular media and the great philosophers, you will learn to distinguish between deductive and inductive arguments, what makes certain arguments good or poor, and how to identify and avoid specific fallacies in reasoning. We will be reading articles and book passages that you might come across in an Introduction to Philosophy course.
Is the price justified? Are there materials/opportunities/courses available elsewhere that cover the aforementioned topics at a lower/free cost? Should I save the money on other learning materials? I need to apply by May 15, so I need an answer soon.
Most HS school students are do not have the resources to attend a supplemental paid summer program that focuses on non-core subject matter or course content that is not an extension of ones academic narrative, so this has to be a personal choice.
Compared to the Brown, or Harvard or Notre Dame or Stanford summer programs, this is about a 1/3 of the cost but still beyond what most HS students have at their disposal for summer activities. You didn't mention if this is a "for college credit course" but since it's pre-college and only 3 weeks, I'm assuming that it is not.
My personal take on this is that if you are on track to 1.) get a 99%+SAT or ACT test score, 2.) have a near 4.0 UWGPA, 3.) will have 8-12 APs or IBs by senior year, 4.) have established various IV/IC activities (Intellectual vitality related to your spike), 5.) have various leadership roles lined up, 6.) are confident in your ECs whether they are sports, clubs, community service, volunteering etc., and 7.) have no anticipated GAP (s) in your academic or personal narrative, then you and your parents should figure this out.
While I do think its a little unorthodox to take this kind of summer class, it may serve you well depending on whether it will help you acquire skills to be a better test taker, or have more success at higher level classes at your HS like AP Lang or AP Lit.
In terms of tipping the scales of application value when you apply to colleges, I don't think an admissions officer will place much weight on your admissions whether you enroll in something like this or not. I think you will get more mileage out of program if it aligns with either your academic narrative or spike activity. If you are ballet dancer and go to a Julliard boot camp for 6 weeks, or a trombone player and go to the JHU Peabody summer trombone boot camp or get admitted in to one of the non-paid scholarship summer programs hosted by MIT etc, those carry more weight because it shows evidence of your commitment to what you are interested in already.
I'm sorry my answer is not more definitive like a thumbs up or down.
Personally, I don't think so. If the course is in-person, that explains some of the price. But there are so many other effective (and cheaper) ways to learn this skill! If you are taking AP Lang or AP Lit soon, this is something that is definitely discussed in both classes, so you shouldn't worry too much if you want adequate skills (my school pays for all our AP tests, so there is nothing to lose for us; if you have to pay out of pocket for yours maybe consider differently, regardless, an AP test is a lot cheaper than this class). Although decisions might have been made about enrollment already for most summer programs, there are much cheaper and lower-commitment courses that could interest you from a different college, but virtually! My personal opinion on this type of stuff is that there are so many interesting and unique options, but price often trumps any pros that might have come out of the camp. The thing is, a lot of these camps are either refining skills you can practice on your own or are discussion-based. To me, neither of those two options seems like a tremendous deal-breaker if I end up just not taking a class. If you are an athlete or have a specific camp you really want to go to, you certainly can. But price and prestige should affect your choice, even if just by the slightest bit.
TLDR; I personally don't think so, there are plenty of cheaper or free options online or near you that offer the same skill refining, just not hosted by a college.
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