How summer programs help to find your "fit"

Something that we’ve stressed at every event is the need to start early: TOEFL and SAT preparation, interest development, etc. But the notion of starting early goes beyond preparation for admission: it means preparing yourself to spend four years studying a particular subject in a particular place. Readiness for college means exposing yourself to the subject you plan to study and the place where you plan to study it. It’s impossible to determine whether a college is the right “fit” for you if you’ve never been there — and it’s difficult to say whether you can passionately study your major for four years if you’ve never gone beyond your high school’s offerings.

This is where summer programs and campus visits come in. These are both excellent opportunities to get to know both a variety of universities and topics of interest — sometimes at the same time! Consider this: if your top school is, say, Boston University (BU), and your dream major is economics, it is well worth your while to attend a multi-week economics summer program at BU. While it’s not the same thing as going there for a semester, it will give you the chance to see whether or not you like economics and whether or not you like BU, its campus, its mindset, and its professors.

If the summer program confirms your hopes and desires — congratulations! You’ve just strengthened your application to BU considerably and, hopefully, will have what to write an essay about, in addition to a letter of recommendation from one of your instructors. And if, perhaps, you don’t like BU or economics — congratulations! You’ve just saved yourself four years’ worth of time and money. Now you know to open your mind up to other universities with different characteristics, such as size, location, and intensiveness which will be a better “fit” for you.

Such summer programs are invaluable — but they are limited in the sense that you can realistically only attend 1-2 programs/summer. Campus visits are, however, nearly unlimited: if you visit Boston, America’s largest “college town,” for example, you can visit several campuses in one day, if you plan your day properly. In doing so, you can get a taste of campus life and decide for yourself if this is a campus you see yourself spending four years on. But you can do this outside of Boston: you can go on college visits wherever you are in the United States, and I highly recommend that you do. It’s worth taking an hour or two out of your day to explore a place where you’re considering spending the next four years. Compared to summer programs, it’s a small investment of your time, especially when the payoff can be so large -- and you don’t even have to spend four weeks studying economics!

We’ve discussed this and more at our past two Moscow events and are looking forward to further exploring questions about summer programs, campus visits, and much, much more.

You can register here for our next event in Novosibirsk on November 14.

Interested? Learn more about our experts:

Yelena Kadeykina is a serial entrepreneur who lives and works in the USA. She is the founder of several technology startups and an expert in the intersection of education and innovation. Yelena’s current project, Hermiona Education, specializes in distance learning and counseling for students who want to realize their potential in another country. Hermiona’s students have successfully gain admission to many of the best universities in the country, including Harvard, Yale, Columbia, NYU, and more. Yelena is also a graduate of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

Peter Koroteev is a professor of mathematics at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his Bachelor's and Master's degrees at the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, where he studied theoretical physics and mathematics. He came to the United States to write his PhD dissertation at the University of Minnesota, from which he graduated in 2012. He did postdoctoral work at the Perimeter Institute of Theoretical Physics (Waterloo, Canada). Currently, he works on research in the field of mathematical physics and string theory. Professor Koroteev has been working in education throughout his entire career, from teaching at a mathematical summer school in Russia to working as a TA in graduate school and, finally, to working as a professor in the United States.

Ilya Zusman, a native of Novosibirsk, is a proud alumnus of School Number 25 (with a focus on physics and math) and of the Siberian Experimental School. He also, however, is a proud alumnus of MIT, although before gaining admission there, he worked in the American financial sector for four years, and was involved in investment consulting for various pension funds, charitable foundations, corporations, and family offices. After graduation, he continued to work in finance, but at Goldman Sachs’ investment banking division in London, where he worked in the field of structural financing and trading derivatives in emerging markets. Ilya is currently working on a number of personal projects in the field of financing and capital markets, including in the field of FinTech. He believes that his education at MIT has helped him not only to deepen his understanding of modern financial markets and the economy, but also to significantly expand his own global network among key participants in sectors such as finance and technology.

Alice Chudnovsky is a proud alumna of the Roycemore School and is a current senior in Mathematics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a minor in Russian literature. Having applied to multiple universities and summer programs, she is an expert at requesting letters of recommendation, drafting personal statements, and preparing for standardized tests! For the past 5 years, she has used her passion for mathematics as an instructor for students of all ages (K-undergraduate), even designing a new course in her department. Alice has conducted pure mathematics research under the guidance of leading mathematicians at Northwestern University, Clemson University, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. She hopes to pursue a PhD in mathematics, to pave the way for next generations of female mathematicians. Her extracurricular commitments include sitting on the Student Cabinet for Hillel International, serving as president of the undergraduate chapter of the Association for Women in Mathematics she founded in 2017, and playing violin in chamber ensembles whenever she gets a chance.

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