Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Application process for summer schools programs at foreign universities

Universities around the globe offer unique courses during their summer vacations when regular semester programs take a break. These summer vacation programs are extremely intensive and enhance your educational experience as well as further your career interests. Here are some quick FAQs about summer school:


What are the features of a summer school?
The tag of summer school is quite misleading! In no way does it imply a short vacation stint during the summer months where you have plenty of leisure hours off-campus. On the contrary, it is not a vacation time at all. Far from it – you literally have a learning experience jammed within a short duration which otherwise would be spread over an entire semester. It is really very intense and since your performance is constantly undergoing evaluation, you must have complete dedication to your coursework. You just cannot slack off during the week, but are free to enjoy a social life and roam around the city on the weekends (if you have worked hard enough during the week of course!).

For many programs, there will be a few hours of lecture in the classroom followed by a group discussion which helps students to analyze the topic in a better manner. The curriculum is so designed that it does not encourage rote learning, but, rather, encourages you to develop a habit to assess things for yourself. You thus need to read, research and write on the subjects you learn. There are some truly awesome library facilities available to those who join summer schools of foreign universities, so no excuses for not doing enough research!

It should be noted that students who have not done such intense research work or undergone constant evaluation may find it difficult to keep up with the coursework. So be prepared.

What is the duration of a summer school program?
Generally a summer school program is of 5 to 6 weeks duration.

What subjects can I take during a summer school program?
There is a vast variety of subjects which you take up:
  • Arts
  • Social Sciences
  • Finance & Economics
  • Marketing
  • Music
  • Business
  • Theatre
  • Environmental Studies
  • Foreign Languages
…and lot’s more…

What should be the basis for choosing a course/subject?
The primary reason why students take up a summer school course abroad is to help speed up their career interests. You need to consider your career ambitions, but at the same time take up something unique which is not available in your own country.

You can even take up one subject related to your career interest and another which is related to your own personal interests. This will make an even better impression in your resume when the time comes to apply for a job.

When are summer school programs generally scheduled?
Generally, a summer school is scheduled in the month of June and August. However, there are also colleges which hold summer school courses during the months of April & May. You should decide based on your regular college term back home. You should not miss out on your regular college lectures due to attending the summer school.

What is the cost of a summer school course?
Quite prohibitive actually. Keep in mind that since summer school courses are of a short duration, scholarships are not offered. In addition to the course fee and accommodation costs, you will be shelling out quite a bit for travel, food and miscellaneous expenses. On an average, the overall cost would thus be approximately5lakh or more.

How to apply for summer school programs abroad?
It is really very simple: visit the website of the foreign university, select your course and apply online. Even payment is done online. Basically the seats are limited and offered to those who apply first, so you need to be quick. 

Very important: Make sure you have a student visa to take up the course.

Finally, the big question:
Which is the best university for summer school programs?
Now that is really something you don’t need to break your head too much about – simply research the Net for feedback and reviews about foreign university summer school courses and you can narrow down your options considerably. Just for starters, the most popular ones are those offered by the London School of Economics, the University of Berkeley, USA,  Harvard University, Oxford University, Kings College and New York University. Less expensive options are available in Europe, such as in Germany, France & Spain and in Asian countries like Singapore & China.


Conclusion
A summer school program in no way can be considered to be a guaranteed ticket to a job. However, if you are looking for something which is a unique intellectual experience which helps you to learn things differently, then the experience itself is a valuable asset. Just be prepared to slog it out and not treat it like a holiday trip. 

Read more:
Oxford University alumni's summer courses