Is Attending a Virtual Academic Summer Camp a Good Option?

By Brandie Erickson April 12, 2024 BS/MD Admissions Consulting Press Summer Plans

The pandemic brought many changes to how students learn, including more access to digital learning platforms. Virtual summer programs have continued to be popular among busy high school students as a way to engage in enriching experiences if they don’t have time or resources to attend in person. They typically require a few hours of commitment per day so you can juggle multiple activities and still build your résumé. While these programs do have advantages, they also have some drawbacks. Let’s go over the pros and cons to answer the question if a virtual camp would be a good option for you this summer.

Pros of virtual academic summer programs

  • More flexibility: Many in-person summer programs plan out your entire day, from waking up at 8:00 am to lights out at 10:00 pm. Conversely, most virtual programs require less of a time commitment. That means you can also volunteer, get a summer job, or do other activities while also attending your program online.
  • More program options: Since these programs are virtual, you can participate from anywhere in the country (potentially even the world), giving you greater freedom in choosing a program that truly interests you and not just picking from what is offered close by.
  • Diverse course offerings: Virtual academic programs cover a variety of different topics from business to research to writing, allowing you to explore areas potentially not covered in your high school curriculum. For example, Rising Researchers helps STEM students use AI and ML algorithms to study human diseases and teaches them how to write a research paper for practical experiences in their fields of interest.
  • Lower costs: Without the cost of room and board, many virtual summer programs are less expensive. In addition, you’ll save on travel, meals, and other fees associated with in-person programs.

Cons of virtual academic summer programs

  • Fewer interactions with peers and instructors: Compared to in-person programs, virtual programs offer fewer opportunities for networking interactions. While some virtual programs emphasize group work or discussions and being on camera, it might not feel the same compared to real face-to-face experiences.
  • Technology issues: With anything related to online learning, there’s the possibility of technical difficulties. Fast internet and a reliable computer are essential when enrolling in a virtual program.
  • Student accountability: Because there’s less interaction between the instructor and participants, you’ll need to hold yourself accountable for completing your assignments. You’ll also have to prioritize learning in a distraction-free environment so you remain focused on your coursework.

Virtual summer programs are a good alternative to get ahead academically and even gain some hands-on experience for students with packed summer schedules. However, before committing to a program, be sure to consider your learning style, interests, and goals. While there are some potential drawbacks to virtual programs, the pros mostly outweigh the cons and will ensure an enriching, productive summer. The full article can be read here.