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Pre-College Summer Program vs. Non-College Selective Summer Program
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I am planning to make a summer vacation plan for 2020 this year.

I would like to know which of Pre-College Summer Program (3~4 weeks) of the University or the Selective Summer Program (a week) offered by the institution other than the school is more effective. For example, I like to apply either 3 weeks Pre-College Program at University or an Economics for leadership program hosted by NGO. Both are related to Econ and Business related programs.

The Pre-College Program is burdensome because it costs more than three times the length and cost of NGO program. However, if the university Pre-College Program is more effective, it will be prioritized over the EFL program. When I ask people around me, some people say it's better to take summer classes at community colleges without higher costs.

I am interested in economics and management, so I don't mind anything, but I want to make a good choice because I need to spend my summer vacation efficiently before 11th grade. I know that everything is case by case, so you won't be able to find the right answer for his specific situation, but the overall guidelines will help me to decide.

Thanks a lot.

pre-college
summer
[edited]
Thanks for your comments. Actually, I want to know which one is better choice between Cornell pre-college summer program and FTE (Foundation for Teaching Economics)'s leadership program.

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Accepted answer

What @ShaquilleOatmeal said is correct—schools will put more stock into programs that are competitive to get into (so ones that require some kind of application) over ones without an application, and will also put more stock into free programs than paid ones. Free programs are usually more competitive because they're open to anyone, not just people who can afford them, and that usually means the people who go through them are the real deal.

But if both of these programs are equally competitive to get into and neither are free (the actual cost doesn't matter much; it's just whether it's free or not free), I would try and choose the one that hews closer to your area of interest. Schools will judge your profile and application through the lens of what you're interested in studying and what kinds of things you've done in high school, so building a cohesive portfolio where you've pursued linked interests and done work that you find personally interesting and engaging is what's going to set you apart. Ultimately, there really won't be a significant objective difference between two competitive, non-free summer programs.

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I found this article a while back which I think is really helpful when deciding which summer programs to look into or attend. https://blog.collegevine.com/how-to-decide-if-a-summer-program-is-worth-it/. Basically if a program is very competitive and free you should try to attend that first (if you can get in!). Your next best bet is paid programs that have a competitive admissions process and finally paid programs that aren't competitive ones you want to try to avoid. Mostly because they have little impact on your application since anyone with the right financial means could attend.

Since you didn't mention the specific programs by name it's hard for me to say which one you should go for from just reading. However, it seems like the selective summer program one makes more sense since it sounds like it's more competitive to get into and might be cheaper for you. Don't forget that many summer programs offer scholarships or fee waivers if attending would be a financial burden. Something to consider!