Adding Pre-college Summer Camps to Next Year’s Vacation Can Save You Thousands on College

The school bell just signaled the start of another school and it’s time to make plans for next summer already?  Why? Whether your student is jockeying for a place at an Ivy League school or simply wants to learn more about a specialized area or major, Pre-college camps can pay off in a big way.  With nearly 70% of students changing majors after their first year, helping a student to solidify a major before they go to college can eliminate the fifth year of college that often comes with a change of major or transferring to a different college altogether because the original one doesn’t offer what your student is now gravitating towards.  These decisions can add another $40000 or more to the total cost of college, plus the additional delay of a year entering the work force.

Pre-college summer camps are not free, and often can cost up to $1500 a week.  Yet, in context, the average college class costs over $3000. To come armed with the experience that resonates a student’s choice of major can be a huge advantage.  

One mother sent her student to a week-long pharmacy camp at a private college in Ohio.  The student came back reluctant to announce she did not want to pursue this or any other health career.  The mother said, “This was the best money I never spent on college,” because the daughter avoided a career path that would have come with a slate of intense prerequisites like Organic Chemistry, which would have derailed her from her eventual shift toward computer science, the field she since pursued and is thoroughly enjoying as a career.

How do I learn about pre-college Programs?

My 4-Year Plan maintains up-to-date opportunities offered at colleges around the world, and some applications have February deadlines, particularly for competitive STEM-related camps at schools like Stanford.  However, even colleges like CMU are seeking to draw underrepresented students to summer camps that open their doors to a variety of high school students. 

In our own backyard, the Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week ( offers week-long business leadership camps with fantastic scholarships, so students simply pay for a week of housing and food at less than $300.  Several students from Hampton have attended in recent years and have enjoyed recognition as “CEO” for a week, discovering more about the world of business, from marketing to finance and data analytics, and all with the coaching of an expert in their field, who donates a week of time to the organization.  Not only does PFEW look great on a student’s Common App, but it also goes a long way in giving them exposure to team and leadership experiences, which can parlay into any major. 

Miami University (commonly known as Miami of Ohio) offers a large slate of summer camps from Game of Clones (Genetics) to Law and Order (Government).  For students seeking admission to ivies and other elite colleges, being selected for pre-college camps often serves as a pathway to begin taking those steps.  For language buffs, the National Security Language Institute provides all-expense, global training to at least eight different countries, all for high school students.  

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