NRI Pulse

Youth

Attending a virtual summer camp: Is it right for you?

BY BRANDIE ERIC, MOONPREP*

The pandemic brought about many changes to how students learn, including having more access to digital learning platforms. Virtual summer programs have continued to be popular amongst busy high school students as a way to engage in enriching experiences, even if they don’t have time to attend in person. 

Virtual summer programs can be a good compromise for students—they typically require a few hours of commitment per day, meaning students can juggle multiple activities and still build their resumes. However, while these programs do have their advantages, they also have some drawbacks. 

Pros Of Attending A Virtual Summer Program

  • More flexible. Attending a virtual summer program often requires less time commitment on the student’s part. Many in-person summer programs have the entire day planned out, from waking up at 8 am to lights out at 10 pm. Conversely, most virtual programs typically have a few hours of class time each day, but then require participants to do homework on their schedule. That means students can also be volunteering, working a summer job or other activities while also attending the virtual summer program.

    Since the programs are virtual, students can also participate all over the country, giving them greater freedom in choosing a program that truly interests them, and not just picking from the ones that are offered close by. International students might also be able to attend virtual programs. 
  • Diverse course offerings. Virtual programs will cover a variety of different topics from business to research to writing. Students can explore areas potentially not covered in their high school curriculum. Even though the programs are virtual, it is still possible for students to get practical experiences in a subject area they are interested in.
  • Lower costs. Without the cost of room and board, many virtual programs are less expensive than in-person programs. In addition, students will also save on travel, meals, and other fees associated with in-person programs. 

Cons Of Attending A Virtual Summer Program

  • Fewer interactions with peers and instructors. Compared to in-person programs, virtual programs offer fewer opportunities for networking due to the lack of face-to-face interactions. While some virtual programs emphasize group work or discussions, it might not feel the same compared to students who attended an in-person camp. 
  • Technology Issues. With anything related to online learning, there might be technology challenges that occur. Fast internet is essential when joining a virtual program. 
  • Student accountability. Because there is less interaction between the instructor and the participants, the students will need to hold themselves accountable to complete the homework assignments. They also will need to prioritize learning in a distraction-free environment so they can remain focused on the coursework. 

Virtual summer programs can be a good alternative for students who already have a packed summer schedule but still want to get a learning experience beyond what their typical high school curriculum might offer. For example, Rising Researchers helps students to use AI and ML algorithms to study human diseases while also teaching them how to write a research paper. However, before committing to a virtual summer program, make sure to take into account the students’ learning style, preferences and overall goals. While there are some potential drawbacks to virtual programs, in many cases, the pros outweigh the cons, leading to a productive summer at a virtual summer program. 

*Brandie is a College Counselor & Outreach Coordinator at MoonPrep.

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