Studying at a summer school abroad is a unique opportunity to combine the study of a foreign language and academic disciplines with a vacation abroad. The student winds up in a completely different environment, gets to know other students, communicates daily with teachers and peers in a foreign language, goes on excursions, and attends other events. Summer schools for elementary school students and teenagers are a great language learning opportunity. There, they plunge headlong into the culture and traditions of another country, and significantly improve their knowledge of a foreign language. In addition to school children, students and even adults go to summer schools too.

Benefits of studying at summer schools abroad
  • Improved grades. One of the most common reasons to travel to university summer schools is to improve academic performance. The student personally chooses the subjects and focuses on what is important and interesting to them;
  • Studying an unusual subject. Summer schools often ask participants to choose subjects that are not in the school educational programs of most countries. For example, at Oxford you can study medicine, marketing, public speaking skills, or politics.
  • An opportunity to learn a foreign language. Language camps are different from summer schools, but you can practice a lot there too. The teachers are native speakers. In addition, children and adults from all over the world come to summer schools. The international environment forces the students to use the language everyone around knows at least to some capacity;
  • Comfortable learning environment. Favorable conditions for learning are created in summer schools: small groups, experienced teachers and psychologists, and a wide range of programs and extracurricular activities. On the territory of the schools there are sports grounds, football and basketball fields, tennis courts and even swimming pools. While under normal circumstances, a child or teenager resists studying in the summer, in this case, they accept this idea with enthusiasm;
  • A clear schedule. Each school day for summer students is carefully planned. A certain amount of time is devoted to compulsory classes, meals, additional courses, homework, and sleep. Free time, sports, and excursions are also carefully planned;
  • Acquaintances and introduction to a new culture. Studying in summer schools abroad, schoolchildren find new friends and get acquainted with the traditions of the host countries. Children do not hesitate to communicate in a foreign language, as they practice it even in their free time with peers from different parts of the world;
  • High chances of admission to a prestigious university. Having gained the experience of studying at a summer school abroad, the student understands how good the education at prestigious universities abroad is. This is a huge incentive to keep practicing and improving the language. In addition, a note in the academic resume about the completion of the summer school will give the applicant an advantage during university admission.
Disadvantages of studying at summer schools abroad
  • Difficulties with socialization. This is especially true for primary school children. If a child has not gone to a camp before, they may feel lonely due to separation from parents and being in an unusual environment. The situation is aggravated by the fact that it is difficult to have a heart-to-heart talk with someone because of the language and cultural barriers. Even a high school student or adult may have communication difficulties;
  • Price. Summer school abroad rarely costs less than 3,500 USD, not accounting for transfer, visa, and other expenses.
  • Different teachers at the summer school and the university itself. Sometimes universities invite guest lecturers for summer schools, as opposed to their permanent staff. This can lead to wrong impressions about the university. If a student wants to enter a university because of specific teachers who were in the summer school, it is worth double-checking the information;
  • Psychological burnout. The studies are usually intensive, despite the fact that they take place in the summer. The student spends several hours at the university each day. If the workload was also high during the year, you should think twice about a trip to a summer school. Resting in a regular camp or resort may be more appropriate.

Estimated cost of tuition in summer schools abroad

USASchool at Harvard University3 weeksHalf board4-18 years8,700 USD
USALoomis Chaffee5 weeksFull board12-18 years10,960 USD
USARumsey Hall School5 weeksFull board8-15 years14,800 USD
United KingdomMagdalene College2 weeksFull board16– 19 years old4,020 USD
United KingdomWellington College3 weeksFull board14-17 years5,530 USD
CanadaBodwell High SchoolFrom 2 weeksFull board13-17 years3,750 USD
FranceHEC Paris Summer School2 weeksAccommodation onlyFrom 17 years old2,760 USD
What's included in the cost of the summer school?
  • Classes;
  • Accommodation in a summer school residence or with a host family;
  • Meals;
  • Study aids and writing materials;
  • Cultural program (as a rule, the basic package includes several excursions, you will have to pay extra for visiting other events);
  • Medical insurance;
  • Evening activities on the territory of the summer school;
  • Additional courses (dancing, fine arts, origami, and so on);
  • Summer program completion certificate.
Additional costs
  • Visa;
  • Fare;
  • Passing IELTS, TOEFL, or other language exams;
  • Pocket expenses for a student (about 700 USD).

How to choose a summer school abroad?

When choosing a summer school, you can rely on several criteria:

  • Location. Decide which language you want to study in. For an in-depth study of English, you should go to the UK, USA, Ireland, Canada, or Australia. To improve your German, it is better to choose Germany, Austria, or Switzerland. Perhaps you want to visit a specific country or city. Then it is worth looking for a summer school there;
  • University. Often the reason for going to summer schools is to learn about the life of the university you want to enroll in. If you want to try studying at the university of your dreams or increase your chances of enrolling there, visit it as part of a summer school;
  • Accommodation options. Once you have decided exactly in which city you want to study in the summer, decide where it is more comfortable for you to live. There are several accommodation options: you can live on campus, in a host family, or in separate apartments. Each of them has advantages and disadvantages;
  • Educational and cultural activities. Studying too intensively has a negative effect on well-being and mood. It is preferable if academic pursuits alternate with entertainment. An equally important element is the variety of courses. Summer schools offer a different set of disciplines. Make sure there are courses that interest you. If there is no schedule at all on the school website, then it is better to avoid such places;
  • Infrastructure. Are there sports grounds, stadiums, and green areas on the territory? Summer school participants already spend part of their holidays at their desks, so being able to sweat it out on the street, in the gym, or in the park is simply a necessity;
  • An international body. If the main purpose of the trip is to improve your language knowledge and communication skills, then it is better to study in an English-speaking group, where it will not be possible to speak your native language. Only then can you expect positive results from the trip;
  • Reviews and awards. Up to this point, we have discussed how to choose a school based on your personal preferences. But in any case, it is worth checking how other people and organizations evaluate the school. Explore the photos and feedback that past participants have posted.

What is taught in a foreign summer school?

The program differs depending on the age of the student, their interests, and the variety of subjects in the school. A detailed list of courses can be found on the summer school websites. Here we have collected the most general information.

English language. As with regular language courses, the study of English in summer schools is built on four components: grammar, listening, reading, and speaking. On the first day of classes, students are tested to determine their current level of knowledge of the language. Then, the teachers form groups of up to ten people who know English at about the same level. Students take a foreign language course in accordance with the requirements of the program. In addition, children practice the language outside classrooms, interacting with their peers. In some summer schools, it is also possible to take preparation courses for TOEFL or IELTS — students analyze their structure in detail, do mock tests, and write essays.

Mathematics (algebra, geometry, and introduction to analysis). In summer schools, a lot of time is devoted to mathematics. The training program and the intensity of the classes depend on the chosen course and additional subjects. If a high school student is preparing in a summer school for admission to a university for a technical specialty, it is natural that mathematics will become one of the core subjects.

Development of academic skills. An equally important course taught in summer schools. It is especially important for high school students because, in such classes, future applicants learn to write an essay, orally defend their project, present reports to the audience, make notes and write quickly, and work in groups.

Preparation for admission. In this case, future applicants go to a summer school at the university they want to enter. Here students study subjects in accordance with their profile. Some courses prepare students for English-language exams and standardized tests such as the SAT. After the course, the participant is issued an official certificate from the university. In the future, the applicant gets an advantage during admission.

Additional subjects. The student chooses them independently. Usually, the choice is wide: from creative to technical subjects. They may include acting, marketing, medicine, drawing, business studies, and many other areas.

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Summer schools at colleges and universities

Prestigious colleges and universities open their doors to schoolchildren from all over the world in summer. They organize summer schools and special courses that help students adapt to life in a new country, plunge into university life and experience the unique atmosphere of the campus. Summer school students use the entire infrastructure of the educational institution, attend lectures and seminars, conduct research in laboratories, and visit university libraries on equal conditions with regular students.

Important! Usually, to study in a summer school, a student must have at least the B2 level of proficiency in the foreign language.

The summer school program includes the study of the language and disciplines that the student chooses. For example, mathematics, international economics, introduction to business, medicine, and others. Humanities students can combine language studies with philosophy, world history, anthropology, and arts. This is the main difference between summer schools and language courses, since the latter is aimed mainly at improving a specific skill. In addition, it is possible to enroll in language courses even with no language knowledge, which is unacceptable for summer schools.

University and college schools offer a wide variety of programs that cover numerous specialties, from Engineering and Humanities to Architecture, Fashion and Photography. Summer school students do not spend days entirely at their desks, but attend recreational activities and go on excursions to major attractions and other universities.

While studying at the summer school, students learn more about the host country, its culture, and specificities, get acquainted with foreigners, improve their language skills and learn a lot about their future specialty. Upon graduation, each student receives a certificate, which may be useful in the future for entering a foreign university.

Summer schools for elementary school students

Primary school students mostly attend foreign summer schools in a distance format. Their level of language proficiency is still not high enough, and parents are often afraid to let their children go abroad. Most full-time summer schools are available from the age of 9, but the choice of subjects is limited to the most basic. Specialized courses, as a rule, can be chosen by children from the age of 12. At Oxford, for example, students of this age study medicine, business, and technology. Cambridge, Yale, and St. Andrews University accept students from the age of 13. But there are also exceptions. Some Japanese summer schools admit foreigners from the age of seven. For example, Tokio Coding Club invites children and teenagers to study programming, robotics, and artificial intelligence in the summer.

For elementary school students, summer schools offer thorough English language programs, several basic and additional disciplines. Classes are held in small groups of six to ten people, which allows the teacher to pay enough attention to each child in the team.

The duration and intensity of the courses depend on the specific summer school, but basically, the programs involve a period of study lasting from two to eight weeks, 20 lessons per week. As a rule, summer schools have a sports infrastructure, which makes classes even more fun. Most of the centers have athletics and fine arts sections. There is often an indoor skating rink or swimming pool on the school grounds.

In summer schools, children live and study according to a clear schedule. A specific amount of time is allocated for each lesson. Children do their homework for at least two hours every day. Schoolchildren even spend their free time in useful ways: they practice the language they are studying, play on the sports grounds under the supervision of teachers, attend personal development classes, and go on interesting excursions on weekends.

Summer schools for high school students

High school students can look forward to an equally exciting program combining studies and leisure. In summer schools, high school students will have to work in a team, learn to make reports, presentations, and scientific projects. They improve communication skills in a foreign language, develop the ability to think and reason, and find unconventional approaches to solving common problems.

The usual summer school program. Teenagers can choose the desired training program: several basic and additional subjects. As a rule, compulsory subjects include Mathematics, English and one or two other courses. Students choose the rest of the disciplines on their own. These can be Fine Arts, Music, IT, another foreign language, Performance, and so on.

Summer school teachers practice a non-trivial approach to teaching: teenagers develop critical thinking skills through debating, discussion clubs, and participation in scientific projects. Classes are held in small groups of 10-12 people, which allows the teacher to find an individual approach to each student.

Each summer school develops its own course of studies of a certain duration and intensity. As a rule, programs take from two to eight weeks. In general, high school students spend at least 20 hours a week in class.

Extracurricular activities. School students not only study hard but also find time for entertainment and visiting excursions. As a rule, on the territory of summer schools, there are green areas for playing frisbee, doing yoga, exercising, swimming pools, stadiums for playing football, and other games. The excursion programs include visits to local attractions, amusement parks, museums, cinemas, and even shopping.

University admission preparation programs. In some summer schools at well-known universities, the curriculum is aimed at preparing for admission to prestigious universities. For example, at a school at Berkeley University, students choose multiple core subjects, two complementary courses, and one workshop. Major subjects include English, Entrepreneurship, Principles of Economics, Archeology, Robotics, Introduction to Medicine, Psychology, and even short film making. The choice of the main disciplines depends on the future specialty of the student.

Summer school students can choose from several additional disciplines from the following list: Public Speaking Mastery, Essay Writing, Psychopathology, Marketing, Urban Design and Design, Introduction to Genetics, Video Game Design, Preparation, SAT, and others. Schoolchildren can take a break from studying by participating in special seminars, which include individual fitness classes, debate clubs, classes in the arts of photography and acting, and more. As a rule, summer programs for preparing schoolchildren for admission to universities are designed for high school students.

Summer schools for university students

Universities often offer summer school options for students aged 18 to 25. The study programs are divided into language and professional and last from three to seven weeks. Typically, students attend summer schools to learn from teachers at top universities, meet ambitious people, and visit museums, libraries, and computer labs. But unlike schools for children, there will be less entertainment and extracurricular time — the student directs all the attention and energy to study. In addition, they walk around the city, attend masterclasses and hobby groups. For example, at the University of Cambridge, a summer school participant can join a student choir or an orchestra.

  • Language classes. Fully focused on learning foreign languages. But unlike ordinary language schools, these are focused on specialized professional vocabulary. The most popular courses are in Business English. There, students not only learn new words and structures but also study real business situations and solve problems;
  • Professional courses. The student chooses the area in which they want to gain new knowledge and specific courses. Usually, one direction includes up to ten programs. For example, in the social faculty, you can take courses in Anthropology, Public Administration, Law, Religion, Sociology, or Gender Studies.
Summer schools for adults
There are no age restrictions. Anyone can choose courses and attend seminars. Usually, up to ten people study in groups. There are 12 lessons per week. The participants visit libraries and laboratories, and in their free time, can participate in extracurricular activities. At the end of the course, the university issues an official certificate of successful completion of the curriculum.
Typically, universities ask to take a preparatory language course, take TOEFL/IELTS as an entrance exam, and write a 1000 words-essay.

Summer schools from top universities

Oxford summer school

Oxford offers distance and full-time summer schools. Students are divided into age groups: 9 to 12, 13 to 15, 16 to 17, and 18 to 24 years old. Usually, there are no more than four students in a group, but in rare cases, the number can reach ten. The summer school promises a brilliant teaching staff — nine out of ten seminarians work in Oxford or Cambridge on a full-time basis.

Oxford offers classes in 50 fields, including business, medicine, creativity, biology, history, and others. In 2020, the Entrepreneurship and International Trade course won an award in its category.

Oxford University promises to provide students with the necessary pandemic safety measures. The school provides single-occupant rooms, personal protective equipment and enforces anti-CoVID legislation.

There is no competitive selection — whoever managed to book a place, will study at the summer school. The only basic requirement is IELTS. The student must score a minimum of 5.0 on the test.

Summer school at Stanford

Today, only online programs are available, but by 2022 Stanford plans to lift restrictions and invite full-time participants. The summer school is intended for high school students — applications from students of ages 16 and older are considered. The program lasts four weeks.

The student chooses one of 32 courses. The available ones include public speaking, mathematics, engineering, humanities, natural science, and entrepreneurship. Please note that Stanford applicants are not eligible to attend summer school.

Stanford University places high demands on candidates for summer programs. You must have a high GPA, successfully pass TOEFL/IELTS and standardized tests (such as SAT). Also, the candidate writes a motivation letter for 300-500 words.

Summer school at the University of Heidelberg in Germany

The program involves studying at the faculties of the University of Heidelberg, accommodation in university dormitories, and a study trip to Berlin. The summer school focuses on the study of German language and culture. Previously, participants were accommodated in host families, but due to the pandemic, this option was suspended.

Students are divided into groups according to the result of the GER language exam. In addition to language courses, participants attend seminars on contemporary culture, politics, history, and economy in Germany and Europe.

To enter summer school, the candidate’s GPA must be at least 2.75. There are no restrictions on the level of language proficiency — the university accepts even beginners, but it recommends first studying for a semester in Germany.

Summer school at the Paris Dauphine University in France

Intended for undergraduate students and young professionals. At the Paris-Dauphine University, a student chooses one of two existing programs — in international management or finance. Programs are fully taught in English. Due to the pandemic, they were temporarily transferred to campus in London — it is impossible to study intramurally in France.

At the School of International Management, a student studies for two to three weeks. Seminars are conducted not only by university professors but also by employees of Google, Universal Music Group, and other large companies. There are courses on sustainable development, innovation, and management in the economic sector to choose from. The School of Finance offers courses ranging from three to six weeks. As lecturers, the university invites employees to Blackrock, Goldman Sachs, and BNP.

To get into the summer school, the candidate writes a motivation letter, attaches results of IELTS/TOEFL and a transcript of grades.

Summer school at Tsinghua University in China

Classes last no more than two weeks. Students of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral programs can apply to the summer school. The best candidates receive a scholarship that covers tuition fees. Everything takes place online.

The school program was developed by 16 faculties of Tsinghua University. Students choose between tracks in Economics, Education, Sociology, Climate, and Business. Each participant makes their own schedule. Students watch lectures and then participate in interactive assignments and group discussions.

The basic requirement for admission is proficiency in English at the B2/C1 level and a well-written motivation letter.

Accommodation options for the duration of the summer school

Accommodation on-site. The most practical option, since dorms are located either directly on the school grounds or not far from them. It also costs less than a separate apartment. An equally important argument in favor of on-site residences is the 24/7 childcare. In summer schools, students follow a clear schedule, so they have little free time. But even spare time is used with maximum benefit: sports, hiking, dancing, movie nights and so on. In school residence, children are provided with full boarding, that is, at least three meals a day and accommodation in single or double rooms.

Living with a host family. An accommodation option that is comparable in cost to living in a school residence or slightly more expensive. Host families are carefully selected by the summer school organizers. As a rule, children are placed in houses where young families without children live. The student is provided with a single room and two meals a day — they have breakfast and dinner at home, and lunch at school.

Accommodation with a host family is a great opportunity to practice the language in a variety of everyday situations, as well as learn more about the culture and traditions of the host country. There is only one trick: not every person will be able to live in the same house with strangers of different age, so this type of accommodation is not suitable for everyone.

Separate apartments. If the options offered by the summer school are not suitable for the student or their parents, you can find suitable housing on your own — rent an apartment or studio. Children under the age of 18 must be accompanied by a parent for safety. It should be noted that not in all summer schools it is possible to order a program without living in a residence or a host family. Often the course is built on the idea of ​​full immersion in the language environment, which is impossible if the child does not practice the language outside the classrooms. Moreover, this option will cost several times more than the previous ones.

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Summer schools during the coronavirus

Anti-CoVID measures in summer schools

In countries with a high number of people infected with coronavirus, it is impossible to study in the summer. But universities are finding a way out — they are transferring programs to the online format or even to campuses in other countries. So, most of the summer courses in the USA and Europe currently function as distance learning programs.

But there are exceptions. Some summer schools in America continue to operate as usual. They explain their decision by the fact that the children have spent the entire 2020-2021 in isolation, so now they should have a chance to socialize. Universities that allow students to study full-time strictly uphold safety measures during the pandemic. For example, they don’t involve host families, and students are accommodated in dorms one person per room. In some countries, children over the age of 12 are advised to be vaccinated. Masks and social distancing are a must for summer school participants. But if all students are vaccinated, the measures are simplified — wearing masks and isolating is not necessary.

As a rule, there are no more than ten people in one class. This increases the competition for enrollment in summer school. Most often, places are allocated on a competitive basis, so those who want to study in another country in the summer should pay extra attention to GPA, motivation letter, and language exams.

Online summer schools

Many universities offer online summer schools. They usually last two to four weeks. In this format, summer schools may resemble regular distance courses, but there are differences. It is more difficult to get into a summer school than a regular course from a university. The latter, as a rule, are conducted free of charge and do not involve competitive selection. Moreover, summer schools introduce more activities, like projects and group work. Online courses offer specialized, highly targeted programs, and in summer schools you can simultaneously study geography, fashion, mathematics, and art. But how do distance online schools differ from traditional ones?

  • There are more classes and homework online. In the online format, the teaching load is bigger. When a student is unable to get around campus and go on field trips, they have more time for reading and completing assignments. Academic hours are often longer;
  • Online programs are shorter than face-to-face programs. Regular summer schools last up to two months, but distance schools usually do not exceed four weeks;
  • Online competition for admission is less. While traditional schools are reducing seats due to the pandemic, there is no danger of getting infected online. Therefore, universities have the right to attract more students, and competition for a place is reduced;
  • Fewer opportunities to study the university. Labs, museums, and university campuses are not available to online school students. But there are still electronic libraries, teachers, and online courses;
  • The tuition fees are lower. Online, it is very possible to find summer schools for less than 500 USD of fees for the entire period. For example, at the University of the Arts London, a four-week course will cost 490 USD. But there are also exceptions. Even in the distance format, the price for prestigious universities reaches 1,300 USD per week (for example, in Oxford). But this is still lower than in the face-to-face format (2,100 USD).

Distance summer programs are available at the National University of Singapore, EU Business School, Oxford University, Stanford, and many others.

Photos of summer schools abroad

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