Children benefit in many ways from attending a summer academic camp, but parents should not overlook the value a camp experience can add to a college application.
Although colleges and universities will continue to look at high school grades and scores on standardized tests like the SAT, most admissions experts agree that extracurricular activities often make a difference in whether applicants are accepted.
An experience at an academic camp, like the Maine School of Science and Mathematics Summer Camp program, shows the student is interested in learning and in diving deeper into a subject that he or she is enthusiastic about. In fact, one of the goals of the MSSM summer camp is to “inspire and encourage campers ages 10-14 to pursue their passions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.”
The website MyCollegeGuide.org answered an online question about camp experience this way: “There’s not a particular type of summer program colleges prefer above all; they just want to see that you did some sort of enrichment activity during your time off rather than sitting at home all day. If you go to a summer camp that you feel really contributes to your intellectual and emotional development, then by all means continue doing so.”
Time at camp may look even more appealing to an admissions department if the student has attended for several summers and has even gone on to become a counselor, said Eric Greenberg, founder of Greenberg Education Group, in a 2014 interview with CNBC.
Admissions officers definitely pay attention to what applicants do in their spare time, including summer vacations. An academic summer camping experience is an indication of what really interests a student and how far he or she will go to pursue that interest.
The camping experience also prepares youngsters for leaving home to attend college. Often, summer camp is a child’s first extended time away from home, and it provides opportunities for new types of interactions and for personal growth. Summer camp, particularly when focused on a particular subject, can help children make early decisions about careers and what they’d like to study in college.
An interesting or valuable camp experience can also make excellent material for an admissions essay.
Admissions counselors wouldn’t encourage anyone to attend an academic camp just to include that on a college application. But when a child attends camp to explore a passion, that can be an asset when it’s time to apply to colleges.