Pre-College summer programs generate superiority complexes

“What are you doing this summer?”

It seems like a simple question. Unfortunately, at Staples High School, the answer to this question usually results in a laundry list of summer pre-college programs.

These programs, which aim to prepare high school students for college by offering a range of different courses for students to take, have become somewhat of a social norm- even a right of passage.

That would be fine, except for the fact that nowadays, students walk around gloating about the programs that they’ve signed up for, as if the program will actually help kids get into college. Newsflash, they don’t.

According to Bev Taylor, the founder of, a website that offers Ivy League university admissions guidance, “These often super expensive college summer programs don’t say to admissions officers what so many parents and students think they say. In many ways, attending these expensive summer programs is no different from attending a fancy sleep-away camp or going on a teen tour.”

Furthermore, these programs are ridiculously expensive. Take the pre-college program at the Ivy League and highly prestigious Brown University. According to the University’s website, a one week pre-college program costs a whopping $2,541. Four weeks? That’ll be $6,424.

For that price tag, you’d think an attendee of a Brown University pre-college summer program would be one step away from getting their Bachelor degree. But, according to a PBS Newshour interview with Jim Miller, Brown University’s Dean of Admissions, taking a summer college program holds “zero” weight when it comes to admissions decisions.

Truth be told, I’ve attended a one week summer college program at Columbia University which covered journalism leadership. Yet, I don’t walk around acting as though I had to do more than sign up and write a check- everybody who applied and could pay got in. I don’t talk about the program as if it puts me above my peers in terms of the college admissions process. The program was for fun, not to prove my academic superiority. So, have fun at your summer pre-college programs—just quit the attitude.