Is Columbia's High School Program worth the price?
A few days ago I received an email from Columbia notifying me of a program that they are holding. The link is here - http://precollege.sps.columbia.edu/highschool/academic-year-immersion/admissions. I'm hoping for someone who has experience with this program to tell their thoughts. I've looked through the course offerings, and they look interesting, but I want to make sure that the program is well-run and worth attending. Just the application fee is already $80, so I don't want to apply unless I'm sure I want to attend.
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A couple of things (I’ve taken summer courses at Ivys before so I know a bit about the nature of these programs):
1) these DO NOT help you get into that particular college, but if you form a connection w a professor there they could write you a LOR
2) these courses are designed for enrichment and are NOT high school credit-bearing courses nor do they mirror a specific course (i.e. AP Physics as Cameron had said); they’re more taught around an interest or topic
3) they are a “pay to learn” experience where college professors teach you and you form relationships w other students
4) they are not super impressive on apps (nor do they influence that schools decision to accept/reject you) since you really only have to write an essay and pay a fee to be selected; but since the programs are from selective schools and are considered “selective” themselves it’s still an EC you can put on your resume
5) they require LOTS of work and the professors expect very high quality work and large participation, so this is a big time commitment (I think they’re once a week on weekends, which could also take time away from test prep or sports, etc)
Overall - if you can afford it (many of these programs also offer aid/reduced admission cost) and you’re looking for a fun and educational enrichment experience, go for it! All of these programs are well-run and I would say they’re worth attending (my experience was absolutely wonderful at Brown). The only thing to keep in mind is that you shouldn’t do these if you are either struggling in school or taking a lot of advanced classes because the added course load/work will take further energy/time away from studying. The #1 priority is your grades, so don't let them suffer at the hands of taking another, very difficult course that you can’t really handle at the moment. These are all things to keep in mind; hope I helped you!
So these programs typically do NOT help with your college applications. A rule of thumb is if you have to pay for something, especially a large amount, to participate in these types of programs, then they are not very impressive in your application. The only thing that these programs could help you with is your "why this college essay" since you can explain how attending this program interested you in the university and campus. They can also be used when explaining why you want to pursue a certain major. But otherwise they are not very impressive to admissions officers.