Do summer programs at top colleges help admissions?

By Maxine Seya

“Many top colleges offer applications to pre-college summer programs for high schoolers, whether it’s Launch X, Center for Talent Development, National High School Institute, or a Dramatic Writing program. If it is actually tough to get into and affiliated with the school (and not some other entity renting the space), does it play any factor in admissions success?”

- A parent in Florida

It turns out that admission into these pre-college programs is almost as competitive and selective, if not more competitive, than that into college.

Launch X, a pre-college entrepreneurship program for high schoolers, boasts a 17% admissions rate, which is near UCLA’s acceptance rate of 14% in 2018 (see above screenshot taken from the Launch X website in January 2019).

MIT, Michigan, Northwestern, and Penn — all highly-regarded colleges with low acceptance rates — all host Launch X summer programs on their campuses.

According to the Launch X website, professors and instructors from these universities lead some of the classroom sessions.

These competitive pre-college programs like Launch X — which, at Northwestern, is affiliated with the Center for Talent Development — boast low acceptance rates and a healthy relationship with top tier universities.

SocratesPost talked to Laurie Stach, founder and director of Launch X, who gave us the scoop on how participating in “elite” high school summer programs on college campuses affects admissions into those particular colleges.

The answer is yes, but indirectly. The individuals reviewing applications for high school programs are not the same application readers as for undergraduate admissions. Laurie confirmed that in a recent interview.

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Maxine Seya
Maxine Seya is a former investigative journalist, college consultant, and admissions interviewer. She studied at Peking University (Beijing, China) and Université Paul-Valéry (Montpellier, France) and investigated for CNN and Huffington Post before graduating from Northwestern University. She founded SocratesPost to share the human stories behind the admission gates and offer parents clarity as they help their teens with college.