At first glance, going to school during the summer may seem completely backwards. After a year spent studying and scrambling over homework, why repeat the process when you could finally be sleeping in instead?
But summer programs are not the same thing as summer school! These programs, which are offered by colleges and universities across the country, aren’t an extension of your high school experience; they’re a sample of the best aspects of college and further education condensed into a few memorable weeks. Who would choose sleep over that?
It’s hard to list all the benefits that come from partaking in summer programs at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, but we’ve narrowed it down to 6 that we think will really pique your interest. Why 6? As everyone knows, it’s one better than 5.
1. Experience campus firsthand.
If you’re entering college, what better way is there to learn about an institution than by actually being there? Many of our summer programs allow students to live at UIUC while also engaging in their programs. Students have the chance to work with professors and college students to see what the fabled dorm life is really like. If you’re taking advantage of our virtual summer program options, you might not be physically present in the dorms, but don’t worry; you’ll still get a good sense of what life at UIUC is all about, as well as the chance to check out our facilities online.
Even if you find that the college where you spend your summer program isn’t your type of place, take this opportunity to soak up everything about campus life firsthand; from the classroom to the meal plans, find what matters to you. That way, when you are deciding which school you want to call home, you’ll already have a pretty good idea of what you want out of your campus experience.
2. Sample student life.
We understand that even though summer programs only approximate the college experience for a short time, being completely immersed in that culture can be nerve-wracking. But “time” is key here: Summer programs last only for a short while and can be an excellent primer not only for what campus life is like, but the type of life you’d like to lead as a college student.
Use summer programs as a trial run for meeting new people, learning about yourself, and moving the walls of your comfort zones, even if only a little bit. You’d be surprised how much your ideas about yourself can change in a few weeks. Growth is a natural part of life, and summer programs could be the catalyst for that process for you!
3. Explore your interests.
Most likely, even if your major is, to paraphrase Chris Traeger from Parks and Recreation, literally your favorite thing on the planet, you’re probably interested in more than one college subject. Curious about chemical engineering? Intrigued by informatics? Passionate about political science? Don’t worry, we’ll attenuate the alliteration starting … now. Wherever your interests lead you, UIUC can be your guide. Summer programs offer a low-risk way to check out a major and see if it’s for you.
Now, even though I’m just inanimate text on a computer screen, I seem to be hearing some misgivings from our readers: “What if I don’t like the program?” “If I end up doing poorly, will my performance affect my GPA?” All legitimate concerns, but you have no reason to worry. Summer programs have no impact on your official transcripts (although they will look good on a resume or CV!) so you’re completely free to explore your options and see which ones fit you best.
4. Meet new people.
Summer programs are a great way to meet new people who are not only interested in UIUC, but also the same fields of study as you! If you find that you like the UIUC community, you’ll be shocked and delighted to know that the students in your program may become your future classmates and your mentors may become your professors if you choose to attend UIUC full-time.
In these summer programs, you’ll have the opportunity to learn new things both in the classroom and from all the interesting new people around you. Plus, having an extra connection in your Rolodex … wait a minute, no one uses those anymore. Hold on, I’ve got it: Making a new connection in your life or professional network is never a bad thing.
5. Enhance your resume.
Participating in a summer program looks fantastic on a resume. Whether you’re looking to add to your college application or want to increase your professional experience, having a summer program on your resume shows that you’re a) passionate about your interests, and b) actively learning and developing professionally, even during the summer. That’s real self-discipline. Summer programs offer you great experience that will be beneficial for your future endeavors, whatever they may be.
6. Have fun!
Being able to spend part of your summer with new people while discovering a college campus and learning about something you’re interested in without the fear of a grade looming over your head? Sounds like an amazing experience to us, and hopefully to you as well!
All in all, summer programs are a good mini-destination to mark on your road map to college. In a way, they act as an appetizer to the college experience: You can see what an institution brings to the table, but you don’t need to necessarily partake in the four-course meal if something isn’t to your taste. (Aren’t dining metaphors fun?)
Our summer program experience is all about exploration and giving you the tools to figure out how you want to spend your college years. At UIUC, we care about your passions. No matter where you choose to attend, we highly encourage you to further your education and learn about your interests through summer programs! Sign up for a summer program at UIUC today and shape your future in all the best ways.