A question that frequently comes up in college interviews and applications is "What have you done with your past few summers?" With increasingly competitive application pools, admissions offices at many colleges and universities want to see that serious applicants are being proactive about their education not only during the school year, also in the summer.
Many top-tier private boarding schools and universities offer summer academic enrichment programs that provide intensive yet fun summer experiences. These programs cultivate an enjoyment of learning for the sake of learning, encourage students to take control of their academic destiny, and provide unforgettable life-changing experiences with like-minded peers—all while making the students more appealing college applicants. And, the experience of several RHSP students has been that doing two of these programs makes a dramatically greater positive impact on the admission process than doing just one.
Attending a summer enrichment program also gives students a taste of the college-preparatory approach to education, which mirrors the experience of attending college—from living in dorms to selecting one's own courses and budgeting study and social time. Not only does this help develop the strengths that come with being a strong student, it also makes the transition from high school to college much easier by preparing students for the challenges of post-secondary education. These programs offer a wide array of courses (ranging from very broad in scope to very specific in focus) that may expose students to new subjects and open doors to future majors and fields of study.
Since 2010, the Reach High Scholars Program has sent at least a dozen RHS students each year to competitive two to five-week boarding programs with very positive results and feedback. In particular, Phillips Exeter Academy, St. Paul’s School, Brown University, and Dartmouth College have all made significant commitments to support our efforts. Almost all RHS students have attended such programs with substantial financial aid, only a small portion of which has come from Raymond-related sources.
Reach High Roundtables
Reach High Roundtables is a summer enrichment program for rising 8th, 9th and 10th graders. The classes are for curious, motivated students who are interested in challenging themselves academically.
In 2016, RHSP took over the direction of Reach High Roundtables, which was operated during the first six years by Phillips Exeter Academy. Reach High Roundtables is an important early component in a continuum of initiatives of RHSP that lead in later years to boarding summer enrichment programs, PSAT and SAT prep and college visits.
Taught in Raymond by area teachers, the classes use PEA’s world-renowned “Harkness Method” of teaching, a student-centered seminar style in which classes are conducted around a table, while the teacher guides and fosters discussion among the students. The students learn to take responsibility for their education, to listen to each other and to explore the potential of their academic and intellectual abilities.
The classes meet mornings for 50 minutes on 12 consecutive weekdays in the second half of July. In recent years, there have been Computer Science, English and Math courses. There are about 12 students in each class; and many take more than one course. In addition, the 9th grade students visit Exeter twice to observe classes and tour the campus.
The English classes involve reading novels, short stories, and poetry and contain a significant writing component. Efforts are made to cover materials on the summer reading lists of the students’ schools. The math classes employ PEA’s nationally recognized problem-solving curriculum, which encourages students to use and integrate all their math skills to solve a variety of math problems. A third course is offered each year on a subject of interest to the students. Recent courses have included Computer Science, Social Studies and Biology.
Over 350 students have participated in Reach High Roundtables.
Boarding Summer Programs for Middle School Students
The following institutions offer boarding summer academic enrichment enrichment programs, of one to five-weeks duration, for middle school students. Each of these institutions provides financial aid.
- Brown University Spark-Science for Middle School
- Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth, Baltimore, MD (also in Bristol, R.I.)
- Andover Summer
- Phillips Exeter Academy Access Exeter