Since the beginning of the pandemic, colleges have struggled to safely accommodate students while navigating the shift to virtual and hybrid learning. Applicants to high school summer programs have also been victims of a loss of in-person instruction, or worse, complete cancellations.
The Yale Young Global Scholars Program, one of the most competitive summer programs for high school students, has decided to remain virtual for the summer of 2022, as it has for the past two years. According to Yale Daily News, the program selected a record number of 2,400 students for this application cycle, with applicants from all U.S. states and 144 countries. The program has opted to host live sessions instead of recorded ones. Although the program considered hosting a hybrid version of the student experience, administrators decided against the idea due to risk management policies applicable to working with minors. Further, students would not get the full “in-person” experience they were promised due to restrictions on exploring campus. Another concern was the representation of international students, or “global accessibility”– faculty found that participation actually increased through the virtual format.
YYGS is not the only summer program with changes in summer plans. Top programs including the Science Internship Program (SIP) and MIT Online Science, Technology, and Engineering Community (MOSTEC) all went virtual, while Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES) at MIT was canceled and the Summer STEM Institute (SSI) was discontinued for 2022.
In 2020 and 2021, the Summer Science Program, a 39-day long prestigious research program for high school juniors, announced that it would adopt a “flipped classroom” model. This model combined recorded lectures with daily 4-hour “Learning Block” sessions and “WorkPlay Blocks,” live recitation-like meetings with professors and working sessions, respectively. Although they noted the challenge of scheduling meetings across 14 different time zones, SSP is one of many exemplary institutions to have effectively transitioned to virtual learning and collaboration for the summers of 2020 and 2021. MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Programs, on the other hand, canceled its MITES program again for the summer of 2022. MIT announced that all MITES applicants will be automatically transferred for consideration for admission to the MOSTEC program, a 6-month STEM exploration program for rising seniors that will be held virtually this summer as well.
Although the pandemic and safety precautions have inhibited in-person activities, we hope to continue seeing programs take advantage of the virtual and hybrid formats as a means of offering opportunities to students. As summer opportunities are crucial to gaining hands-on experience, choosing future majors, and enhancing college applications, canceled opportunities should not be the inhibiting factor to the students’ success.