With summer less than six months away, students are turning their attention to securing spots in summer programs and institutes. First-time applicants may be surprised to learn that some of the more sought-after programs require essays or personal statements. Here are some examples:

Applicants to the Fundamentals, Summer College Courses, and Summer Honors Intensive Programs at Georgetown are required to submit a 300-500 word personal statement describing why the particular programs appeal to them. In addition, applicants must provide one letter of recommendation from a teacher, school administrator, or guidance counselor.

Boston University’s Summer Challenge Program requires submission of 500 – 750 word personal statement describing why students want to attend.

The UCLA High School Summer Research Program asks for a “Personal Statement / Essay” along with a record of extracurricular activities as part of the required documentation.
NYU’s Precollege Program offers students the chance to write a personal statement (250-500 words) on a topic of their choice. Alternatively, applicants may describe what makes the student “special, unique, distinctive or impressive.”

The application process for summer programs and institutes is similar to the process students go through when applying for college. As with the Common App and supplemental essays, students are asked to tie their educational credentials and extracurricular experiences to the program to which they are applying, explaining the “fit” between the student and the program. Creativity, precision, and striking the right chord all are needed in order to successfully compete for spots.