As the former Director of the Leadership in the Business World pre-college program at The Wharton School, I have a deep understanding of how pivotal the right summer programs can be for a student’s development and college applications. While there’s no direct link between these programs and university admissions, their impact on a student’s growth is significant and multifaceted.

The Comprehensive Benefits of Summer Programs

Summer programs offer more than academic enrichment; they are a foundation for lifelong friendships and crucial insights into a student’s academic and career interests. These programs, such as the Emerging Leader Program, provide clarity and direction for students pondering their future college and career paths.

Academic Enhancement through Research-Intensive Programs

Programs like the Emerging Leader Program, an 8-week research-intensive opportunity, match students with one of over 95 faculty mentors, offering a profound academic experience. This program, and others like it, deepen a student’s commitment to their chosen field of study, significantly strengthening their college applications.

Extracurricular Profile Enrichment

Summer programs should enhance a student’s extracurricular activities, aligning with their interests and fostering personal and leadership growth. For example, project-based learning programs or volunteer experiences offer opportunities for students to develop key skills and demonstrate their commitment to personal growth.

Cultivating Intellectual Vitality

Intellectual vitality is crucial for college admissions. Programs that stimulate student passion and encourage exploration and creativity are invaluable. The Emerging Leader Program, for instance, allows students to engage deeply with research under the guidance of experienced mentors, fostering a genuine love for learning.

The Pitfalls of ‘Pay-to-Play’ Programs

Be wary of costly ‘pay-to-play’ programs that may lack substantive experiences. Focus instead on programs that offer significant learning and growth opportunities, like the Emerging Leader Program, which offers a meaningful and academically rigorous experience.

Making the Right Choice

Choosing the right summer program is a strategic decision impacting a student’s academic and personal development. This choice is a critical point in the college admissions process and should be approached with informed consideration.


The correct summer program, such as the Emerging Leader Program, can be transformative, providing students with clearer understanding of their academic and career aspirations. As educators and parents, it’s our role to guide students towards enriching programs that align with their interests, preparing them for a successful college journey and beyond.

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