Using the Search for Pre-College Summer Programs to Help Prepare for the College Search?

Using the Search for Pre-College Summer Programs to Help Prepare for the College Search?

A Productive Search for Pre-College Summer Programs

Background Information: The Pre-College Summer Program Search

This article is designed to examine the way in which searching for a pre-college program can help prepare students to conduct an effective college search during the college admission process. It is important to note that the information in the article is not equating the search for a pre-college program to that of an actual college search. The content of the article is just intended to suggest that the less complex, less intense, and lower stakes of a pre-college program search can potentially serve as a bridge to help students get ready to search for colleges of interest and to narrow down their college list. The content of this article is also not intended to suggest that all high school students should attend a pre-college program. Instead, it is suggesting that if a high school student would like to attend a pre-college program, they can conduct a search for one that is going to meet their needs and help them reach their goals. Additionally, students who are not interested in attending a pre-college program can use the information in this article to help them search for any type of extracurricular activity and use the process to prepare for the actual college search.

Preparing for the College Search

College building for a pre-college summer programThe college search is an important piece of the college admission process for high school students. By conducting an effective college search, students can develop an appropriate list of colleges to use throughout the admission process. It is important that high school students carefully research colleges to find good matches for them that will enable them to grow academically, socially, and personally. By conducting an appropriate college search, students can develop a diversified and useful college list that represents the schools to which students will be submitting applications. An effective college list is useful in providing students with at least some valuable choices when they eventually engage in the decision-making process regarding a college to attend. One way in which high school students can practice and prepare to conduct the college search involves using pre-college programs. When students are considering participating in a pre-college summer program, they can conduct a search that resembles the college search process. This can be helpful because searching for and finding pre-college summer programs involves research, examining different factors, and decision-making. While the pre-college search is less significant and less complex than the actual college search process, when conducted effectively, it can help set the stage for a high school student to feel more prepared to take the steps that are necessary for the college search and for finding colleges that are a good fit.

The post is designed to examine the way in which searching for and finding a pre-college summer program can serve to be a mini college search and to help prepare students to take steps to go forward in the college admission process.

The Pre-College Program Search and an Actual College Search

The pre-college summer program search is considerably less complex and less intense than the actual college search, but it can involve determining the factors and criteria for deciding on a summer program to apply to and potentially attend. It is likely that students who take the time to examine factors that are important to them in a summer pre-college program will be able to find opportunities that College campus center during a summer pre-college programalign with their goals, interests, and areas for growth. As a result, the process of investigating and finding pre-college summer programs can essentially be thought of as a lower stakes and less complex version of an actual college search. Conducting the pre-college search in an appropriate and intentional manner can assist students with preparing for the college search as well developing a college list.

In the actual college search, there are many factors for high school students to consider. There are considerably less factors to consider when exploring summer pre-college programs. However, some of the factors in the pre-college search overlap with the actual college search. The following information in this article examines the way in which a pre-college search can resemble a college search.

Conducting Research in the Pre-College Search and the College Search

College campus building for a summer program for high school studentsIt is important for high school students who are interested in pre-college summer programs to take the time to research their options. By researching pre-college programs, students can begin to narrow down which opportunities would help them to grow and have a productive experience. A good place to investigate information about a pre-college summer program is a program’s official website. The information on the official program’s website can help students determine if the experiences provided align with the outcome that they hope to achieve. In addition, as students start reading about pre-college programs, they can begin thinking about the factors that are important to them. Students can also use a summer programs directory, such as Student Education Programs.

When students begin to find several pre-college programs of interest, they can contact the program office to ask questions and obtain more information. When students carefully research programs, they are more likely to choose those programs that would be beneficial for them. Conducting research for pre-college programs can be done in a way that resembles an actual college search. This can then help students as they engage in initial college research to determine which institutions to continue to examine and potentially visit. Students can also utilize college search tools, such as the College Board’s Big Future resource.

Factors in the Search for Pre-College Programs and Factors in the Search for Colleges

There are many more factors to consider in a college search as compared to a pre-college program search. However, some of the factors do overlap. While the decisions that are made when selecting a college are much more significant than a relatively short summer pre-college program, it can be useful to consider the factors that are similar. The following information includes some of factors that are considered for pre-college programs and may also be important for students to think about in relation to colleges.


Campus building and students for summer programThis can be an important factor for high school students to consider about pre-college summer programs. For some students, a summer pre-college program may be the first time that they are away from home, without their family, for longer than a few days. Students may want to narrow down their list of pre-college programs by examining those that are only a certain distance away from home. In addition, finances may be intertwined with location. For example, pre-college programs that take place in some locations may be cost prohibitive because of the travel expenses. For more information on a student who had a difficult time being away from home, please see the blog post entitled ‘Residential and Commuter Options for Summer Programs‘. Location can also be important in the college search process because students can consider how far away an institution can be for them to be comfortable. There are some students who may only want to examine colleges that are a certain distance away from home and it is also important to consider the potential travel expenses for colleges that are far away. Thinking about location early on, can help narrow down the colleges that are researched as well as those that are on the college list.


The expense of a pre-college summer program can be an important factor to consider. There is a large range of programs in relation to cost. It can be helpful for students to speak with their parents about the financial aspects of attending a program. Establishing an expense limit prior to researching pre-college programs can save time and help narrow down options. There are many beneficial pre-college programs and students can find valuable opportunities that do not strain finances. Fortunately, in recent years there have been more summer pre-college programs offered by colleges and organizations. As a result, it is more likely for University building for summer program for high school studentsstudents to find programs within their budget that will provide a positive experience. It is important to note that some pre-college summer programs do have some limited financial aid based on need and/or merit. However, in conducting the pre-college program search it is important to have options that are within a budget, because aid may not be available or received. In the actual college search process, the financial aspects are significantly more complex. Typically, when students and parents follow appropriate steps, colleges will send financial aid packages that can be made up of grants, loans, merit scholarships, and work study. Students may also apply for and receive outside scholarships to use for college. However, in broad terms, cost can still be a significant factor to consider when researching colleges and developing a college list. Furthermore, it can be helpful for students to talk with their parents about the financial aspects pertaining to college. This should not necessarily discourage students from applying to certain colleges, as some colleges have funding to help meet the needs of admitted students. Some of the most highly selective colleges can offer generous financial aid packages to qualified students. However, it can be beneficial for students to research colleges in different cost ranges and to put together a diversified college list. Students can also visit college websites to learn about merit based scholarships that may be offered and the criteria used for receiving these. In addition, students and parents are encouraged to ask questions about financial aspects of college to representatives from financial aid departments, school counselors, admission representatives, and/or other adults (such as parents/guardians) who have been through the process.

Area of Focus or Area of Interest

Pre-College students learning in a summer programWhen researching pre-college summer opportunities, it is important to consider the topic or subject area that is the focus of programs. For example, if a student is interested in a pre-college writing program this can immediately begin to narrow down the list of options. Students can consider areas that they are passionate about or that they would like to learn more about as they consider programs. There are also programs that enable students to explore more than one topic and if a student wants a broad experience they can search for opportunities that offer the chance to learn about different topics. During the actual college search, students can consider majors of interest. Although many students begin college with an undecided major, it can still be important to be aware of the academic programs at an institution. For example, if a student has an interest in marine biology, it can be helpful to consider colleges that have a corresponding program of study even if this is just one of several possible majors.


College campus buildingThere are many pre-college summer programs that are not considered to be selective. However, some of the most well-known and well-established programs do require an application, a certain grade point average, and/or a recommendation from a teacher or counselor. When students are researching potential pre-college opportunities, they should consider the selectivity of the programs. If a student is interested in a program that is selective, it is a good idea to have several back up options as possibilities. In the actual college search, selectivity is a significant factor. Many people that work with college admissions suggest that students research colleges and develop a diversified list based on selectivity. For example, a student may search for colleges with the idea of having three safety schools (qualifications exceed the profile of recently admitted students at the college), three match schools (qualifications align with the profile of recently admitted students at the college), and 2 to 3 reach schools (qualifications are under those of recently admitted students at the college). The goal of a college search and a diversified college list is to have choices when it is time to make a decision on a institution to attend.

Safety and Supervision:

University building for a summer programWhen conducting a search for pre-college opportunities, it can be helpful to find out about the safety and supervision measures that are taken by those organizing the program. Typically, there is information on a program’s website or students can contact the program office to inquire about the safety and supervision that is provided. In the actual college search, students can examine the types of safety and supervision measures that are offered by the college. For example, many colleges have a department of public safety which takes a variety of measures to help minimize risks and maximize safety for the students on the campus. This can be one factor that students may consider and find out about when conducting a college search.

Size: Student to Staff/Faculty Member Ratio, Average Class Size, Individual Attention, and/or Opportunities

Campus center with students during a summer programWhen students consider pre-college programs, one aspect that it is important to find out about is the ratio of students to staff members. For example, if a student is interested in a summer business program, it would be helpful to know about the number of students that work with an instructor. Sometimes, the smaller the ratio of students to staff members, the more individualized attention is given to each student. However, sometimes larger programs provide more options to students. Either way, this is a factor that can be considered. In the actual college search process, the size of the school in terms of total number of students that attend the institution (with and without graduate students), the average number of students in courses, and the faculty to student ratio can be considered when developing a college list.

Concluding Notes: A Productive Search for Pre-College Summer Programs

Overall, the search for pre-college summer programs can be done in a productive and beneficial manner. When students consider the factors that are important to them and carefully research potential programs, they have a better chance of finding opportunities that correspond to their goals and interests. Although a search for pre-college is less complex and has fewer factors to consider, it can be a helpful way to prepare to conduct an actual college search.


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Mike Uretsky

Mike has worked in the field of education as a teacher, school counselor, program coordinator, and consultant. As an educator, he has helped high school students find summer programs, pre-college programs, and colleges that align with their interests and goals. He has an interest in assisting students with the transition from high school to college. Mike is a manager for Student Education Programs, an online directory that is designed to connect high school students with valuable summer pre-college opportunities.

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