If you’re already enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme (or planning to start one soon), you may be interested in finding a summer course abroad, adding extra experience, preparation, and knowledge to your degree. Why not take yourself to the U.S. for a life-changing, unique, and exciting summer course? Some of the top schools in the world, such Yale and Stanford, offer their own short courses - in several disciplines and subjects - that students from all over the world can pursue. These programmes can be exciting for ambitious students who want to get extra training and knowledge, while also living in a new country. If you’re interested in spending your summer in the U.S., why not enroll in a summer school while you’re at it?
Below there will be a couple of tips for finding a suitable summer school programme in the U.S. – one that will boost your knowledge and refine your skills for the future. We’ll help you with the right tools to search and apply for the perfect summer school.
1. Find the subject that fits your educational needs
Let’s suppose you’re studying Business Management, hoping one day to break into a great leadership position at one of the top companies in the world. Did you know that you can take several short courses in management and leadership at Harvard University or the University of California, Berkeley? These top-ranking universities have several courses to offer young leaders. And the best part is: they taught by some of the biggest names and smartest people in that field. Take a look at some of the courses they offer:
University of California, Berkeley
From these choices, you can decide if one of these short summer school courses can be a good addition to your degree programme. You can learn some new ideas and gain a huge educational advantage, spending your summer abroad while preparing for your degree or your career.
2. Find out whether you can use a summer course to satisfy course credits
If you’re already enrolled in a Bachelor’s or Master’s programme, you likely have the option of taking some of your courses abroad. For summer school programmes, though, you will want to make sure that the courses that you’re taking in the U.S. can be used to satisfy your degree requirements.
For example, if you’re in the second or third year of your degree in Film or Digital Media, you may decide that you want to spend a summer abroad in the U.S. to take some courses for your degree. What a good choice! In the U.S. there are several summer school options for film, and they are all in different cities. Before you enroll in one of them, though, you will want to make sure that the summer school course can be included in your degree programme. You’ll want to take a few steps before you apply for a programme. You don't want to enroll in a programme that will not help your degree, or a programme that may not fit into your curriculum.
- Make a list of the summer school programmes that are offered in the U.S. In the case of Film students check out the list of short courses that an offer film courses everywhere in the U.S. See whether any of the courses or programmes offer something that is already included in your degree requirements. If you are sure, for example, that you will eventually have to take a film in the History of Avant-Garde Film, you can be confident that the same course offered at the University of California, Berkeley will satisfy that requirement. Contact your programme coordinator or director to check that this course can be used toward your degree.
- Learn about whether the credits or units match. In the U.S., the courses are designed around what is called “credit hours”. This means that each course is assigned a different number according to the academic credit system. Depending on how much lecture time is involved, or the lab hours that are required, or the course-load, this number can be different for every class. By the end of your degree programme, you are required to have taken a certain number of credits before graduating. If you’re coming from Europe, this can be quite different to the ECTS system that is commonly used there. So when you’re studying abroad in the U.S., make sure that the credits that you want to enroll in will match those that are required for your degree.
- Be sure that the course matches your study level and needs. As you can guess, many summer programmes differ depending on a student’s needs or education level. Some courses are meant to prepare students for Bachelor’s programmes, while others are at a third- or fourth-year Bachelor’s level. When you decide to enroll in a programme abroad, you should find out whether you are taking the right course or whether it is too advanced for you!
If you take this advice, you can be sure that the course you are taking will not only benefit you, but will also ensure the success of your degree. Be sure to ask questions and reach out to your programme coordinator to find out whether the summer school course you want to take is the perfect one for your degree.
3. Compare summer school costs
When you’re looking for the ideal summer school programme in the U.S., you will want to know how much you can afford to pay. Be sure to see how much schools charge for average tuition in their summer courses. Because the courses are generally shorter, with fewer credits, you will not be expected to pay nearly as much as you would for an average semester.
However, because there is a limited number of spots in these summer school programmes, the prices can be quite high. Learn some more information about the tuition costs in the U.S. and how you can manage to pay your tuition fees. The right programme for you is also the one with the right cost, and one which you can manage to pay for.
4. Learn more about the location, the student life, and U.S. culture
Although the summer courses are usually only a short duration (between 6-9 weeks), you still want to know whether you will be happy in the programme that you choose. After all, your programme should not only be beneficial to your degree programme or career; it should also be fun and interesting!
Go to a city that has something to offer you, that you’ve always dreamed of living in; find a place that has the best music, dance, or art; find a place with plenty of nice beaches, or mountains to climb. As you look through schools, don’t be afraid to focus your energy on a nice location. Your setting can grow to define exactly what your study abroad experience is like. You can hear what other students are saying, or read different facts about different cities. You can also find out whether the city is easy to get around in, or whether you can afford it. Most university websites will have detailed information and student messaging boards that will help you understand what the student life is like.
5. Check the requirements and qualifications that the schools require
One way to figure out which summer school is right for you is to figure out which ones you are eligible for, or see which programmes you can satisfy the minimum requirements for. For example, you can compare different summer school programmes and see what their requirements are. Typically, schools will require the following:
- A decent Grade Point Average
- Proof of full-time enrolment in a university or degree programme
- Proof of English-language proficiency
- Students to be 18 years of age or older
- Recommendations from a professor or instructor at home university
Not every summer school will require these items for an application. However, it is important to check every programme’s site to find whether you meet the minimum requirements to enroll in their wonderful summer school programme.
Nothing should hold you back from studying abroad. Several schools and universities all over the world are looking for ambitious, hard-working students just like you who are interested in spending a summer in their classrooms. Make the most of your summer and take the opportunity to learn new things, in a new place, while also making new friends.