5 Worst Reasons to Attend a Pre-College Summer Program

Attending a pre-college summer program is a great way for high school students to prepare for the transition to college. Are pre-college programs really worth it?

Attending a pre-college summer program is a great way for high school students to prepare for the transition to college. Experience life on campus. Test drive a future major. Meet students from all over the world. Develop skills to succeed. Pre-college programs help students get ready for college in a number of ways!

In speaking to parents and students interested in pre-college summer programs, one question I always ask is “what interests you about attending a pre-college program?”

Every student arrives to a pre-college program for their own reasons – just make sure you’re attending for the right reasons. The list below is a brief overview of the worst reasons I’ve heard for attending a pre-college summer program.

If any of the 5 below apply to you (or your family), we suggest that you take another look at your summer plans and reconsider.

Here are the 5 worst motivations for attending a Pre-college Program

1. Because you think attending the program will help you get into that college.

Unfortunately, pre-college programs don’t work this way. Please don’t be fooled by fancy literature and promises that can’t be kept! The way you get into college is through grades, personal achievements, essays and test scores – not a pre-college program. Though college admissions do look to see if you’ve put in the effort to prepare for college. What you do in your free time, and during your breaks, does make an impact. 

Pre-college programs are a tool for you to test drive the college: explore your interests without committing to a major, live on campus and make new friends. When it’s time to apply for college, pre-college programs won’t take the place of test scores or a strong academic record. Whether organized internally through the university or organized by outside companies (like Blueprint!), no pre-college program can guarantee or even increase your chances of acceptance to the college.

2. Because my parents made me.

Students, consider this excellent practice in developing your own interests and making your own decisions. And Parents, please give your high school students this opportunity of self-advocacy and don’t sign them up just because you think it will be good for them. Instead, have a family discussion about needs and wants. Maybe a summer job is a better option this year, or exploring through travel, or even just relaxing and enjoying the summer break. All of these are healthy and appropriate options, depending on the circumstances. Students, given that pre-college programs are often the best way to prepare for college, if you haven’t yet made a plan and learned some college success skills, this summer is the perfect opportunity to do that –in a personalized and fun program that caters to your interests in a low-stress environment. It’s worth checking out, right? They might be cooler than you think!

3. Because you have nothing else better to do.

This goes hand-in-hand with number 2. If you have nothing better to do but want to go to a pre-college program, by all means, please come! Just don’t get sucked into the idea that you have to do a pre-college summer program. It will certainly help you with the transition to college and it will definitely help you find and explore your interests in a fun environment. Doesn’t that sound better than attending as a default? Here are a few questions to get you started — What’s your passion? What do you enjoy doing? Then, find a pre-college summer programs that fits with you.

4. Because you think it will look good on your college resume.

First of all, we hate the idea that students actually have resumes these days but sometimes the rules change and you still have to play by them. Unless your pre-college program is hyper-competitive and world renowned, most likely, no one is going to care that you attended; however, following your passions looks better on college apps than simply going through the motions and never venturing deeper into an area of interest.

5. Because your friend/boyfriend/girlfriend is going.

We understand that a few weeks can feel like an eternity when you’re separated from that special someone or friend. But learning how to manage your responsibilities solo is part of growing up. So we recommend attending a pre-college summer program alone. Think of it as the perfect training ground to being on your own at college. Although coming to a pre-college summer program with someone from home is fine, we don’t recommend attending with someone you want to spend every waking moment with. College and pre-college programs are a place and time to explore new things and discover new things about yourself too! If you’re spending all your time with your someone you already know, you will limit the new experiences you could have and the new friendships you could make.


These are some of the warning signs we look for at Blueprint. Here’s the thing: even if you’re going to a program for one of the “wrong” reasons above you’ll probably still have a great time. If your motivation for attending a pre-college summer programs happens to be listed above, don’t worry. We’d still love to welcome you to Blueprint –and we’re willing to bet you’ll have a great time!