I have recieved many emails lately about summer programs from different companies and colleges, and while I am not planning on doing one this summer, I wanted to share my experience with them in case one of you is considering it. I did Summer Discovery UCLA the summer after my freshaman year. It was a truly life changing experience for me that I am so thankful I did. I want to give you a brief overview of what a summer program is and what I did. It is a pre college enrichment program in which you usually focus on a specific subject or two and get to attend in essence college. You live in the dorms, eat at the cafeteria, go to classes with college professors, and get to experience the city you are in. For me I really wanted to go to California and so I instantly picked UCLA for 3 weeks and while there I took a class in marketing and an SAT Prep class.
Top 10 Tips/Things I learned:
1) Do it for you and think about the cost! College Programs are expensive, so don't feel like it is a necessary thing for you to do if your family can not afford it. If you are going only, because you think you must to get into your dream school and can't afford it don't go. Colleges want to see that you made god use of your summer, which could be anything(a job, internship, community service) do what you are passionate about.
2) Go a place you may want to live/go to school. I thought my whole life I wanted to go and live and California, but as soon as I began t spend time there I realized it was not of me and that I felt I fit in and belonged on the East Coast and didn't want to be that far from my family.. So go to a place you really think you may want to live, because it gives you a great trial run to see if you like it. It's even better if you know what school you want to go to and attend a program there to get a sense of what it's like there in the dorms, the food, the activities, and the people.
3) Don't go to early! Honestly sometimes I think I went to early sometimes I think I had perfect timing. I would wait to go until you have a good idea of a future career, so then you can do a program that really matters and will help you! But going can also you figure out your future career, that's what it did for me! Also, make sure you can be away for that long. I struggled toward the end missing my parents and friends, but you do learn to think and act for yourself.
4) Do everything! Go on every trip possible that they offer and experience and submerge yourself in the city. Even if your friends aren't going, go anyway and make new friends! Things that sound boring are sometimes actually the best trips; museums, observatories are full of history and facts that may captivate you and influence your life completely. Plus I got to know a lot of the councilors by going on the trips and they give you lots of tips for college and the future!
5) Be Open! Talk to everyone and be friendly. You'll most likely meet people from all over the world. Hear what it's like to live in their country and understand how different it is there! Tell them about America. Just talk and get to know and become friends with as many people as possible, because they complete the experience.
6) Don't go for too long! I went for three weeks which I personally believe is the perfect length. You have plenty of time there to experience and enjoy everything there, but you still have time when you get home to do all the other things you want to do with your friends and family. Plus 3 weeks is a good length if you have never been away from home before; I had been at camp for a week before and felt 3 weeks was a good stepping stone from there.
7) Study and work hard in your classes! Even though it's a summer program don't goof around and ignore your classes. Take them serious, because you can really learn a lot from them. Work hard to do your best and make an impression on your teachers. You may not get a grade at the end, but knowledge is power always remember that.
8) Be close with your roommate. Your roommate will be your best friend throughout this. I can't tell you how thankful I am to have met the girl that was my roommate. We had so many great meaningful discussions that have taught me a lot. Even though we were opposites, we clicked and she was there to support and encourage me. So dig deep with your roommate, because trust me you become fast friends when your living together.
9) Go for your interests! Go to do what you love. Don't go and take classes that don't interest you. If you can't find a program that interests you at your school of choice then look somewhere else or do something else. Go for the program, not the school or town. I made this mistake and if I could I would go back and do a more focused program on something I really care about even if it wasn't in my top location.
10) Be smart, but take chances! You have to have balance. You should take chances and experience things and figure out who you are, because this is the prime time to do it. You should not break rules or do anything illegal. You should behave, but submerge your self in self discovery. Allow yourself to be free and do the things you may have never done before. Let yourself fly.
I hope this helped! Feel free to comment bellow, contact me on social media or email me(email@example.com) if you have questions! I would be happy to answer. I definitly recomend Summer Discovery if any of you are looking for a program to do. It was so great; the perfect balance of fun and learning!