Pre-college programs come in a variety of formats and with varying degrees of competitiveness. If you are considering a pre-college program, you should think through what’s right for you - because it is not a one-type-fits-all type of situation!
There are some pre-college programs that are focused on research mentorship, while others are geared towards ‘college preparedness’ or ‘career readiness’ and tend to offer a range of credit and non-credit courses for you to pick from.
The research mentorship style programs may be highly or moderately selective or fairly welcoming, depending on the level of rigor. Whereas, the ‘college preparedness’ or ‘career readiness’ tends to be fairly welcoming (barring any prerequisites for advanced courses). The aim of these programs is not to add prestige value to your resume but to equip you with skills to make informed career choices, execute passion projects, or even earn some college credit.
So keep this in mind when you narrow down on a program and ask yourself “What do I need? What will my profile benefit from?”
If you are a high schooler studying in the New York area, then you might be wondering what NYU has in store for high school students. We’ve covered the options in detail here.
Another option you may have come across is NYU’s SPS High School Academy. In this blog post, we will go over it in detail.
What Is the NYU SPS High School Academy?
This High School Academy is run by New York University’s School of Professional Studies. It is different from the Pre-College program run by NYU. For context, a lot of universities have a school of professional studies (SPS), which is a distinct school run under the university brand. SPS units are focused on lifelong learning and upskilling high school students, and undergrads all the way to mid-career professionals (and, in some cases, even beyond!).
This is a summer program with one-week sessions designed to prepare high school students for both their college journey and professionally. Situated in the vibrant heart of New York City, the Career Edge program, a part of the NYU SPS High School Academy, offers students from grades 9 to 12 the opportunity to explore various career paths and get a glimpse of college life. Unlike some pre-college programs, Career Edge does not offer college credits but instead immerses you in your chosen industry through site visits, field trips, and guest lectures.
The program encourages you to take up multiple courses across different sessions, allowing you to explore various career paths before deciding on a college major. You can either stay at the campus if you’re not located in the New York area, or you can commute to and from the campus if you’re a local.
Who Is Eligible?
To be able to apply for Career Edge, you must have completed grades 9, 10, 11, or 12.
Both local and international students are eligible.
Admissions, Deadlines, and Structure
The application for the program is straightforward, requiring only:
An online application
A 250-500 word essay with the instructions as follows: “Please describe why you would like to take your selected course(s). Please include any previous courses you've taken in this subject or previous experiences with this subject. Give more detail as to why you would like to take this course over the summer. Your response should be 250-500 words total. If selecting multiple courses, please contain all responses to a single essay.”
An official high school transcript
Applications for a particular summer tend to become available earlier that year. For 2024, for example, you can expect the dates to look similar to those for 2023:
Application Deadline: June 2024
The week-long course sessions are scheduled as follows:
Start Date: July 10, 2023
End Date: July 14, 2023
Start Date: July 17, 2023
End Date: July 21, 2023
Start Date: July 24, 2023
End Date: July 28, 2023
Start Date: July 31, 2023
End Date: August 4, 2023
Start Date: August 7, 2023
End Date: August 11, 2023
Session 6 (Commuter Only)
Start Date: August 14, 2023
End Date: August 18, 2023
Career Edge has a list of 23 available courses. You can theoretically apply for 5, or 6 if you’re a commuter.
The course subjects run the gamut from Finance, Marketing, and Entrepreneurship to Journalism, Architecture, and Photography with everything in between. With each course, they aim to provide you with a tangible, useful takeaway - for example, a portfolio of critiqued short stories if you attend the Creative Writing course, or an awareness of the process of criminal investigation, including crime scene investigation, death investigation, and evidence analysis in the Criminal Justice course. An average day in the program involves at least 6-7 hours of classes, and plenty of guest lectures, site visits, simulations, and case studies.
What Are The Costs Associated With NYU’s SPS High School Academy?
The cost of attending the program in 2024 is likely to be similar to the structure for 2023:
Application Fee: $25 (non-refundable)
Total cost per course: $2,495
Housing & Dining Fees: $607 per week
Note that no financial aid, scholarships, or discounts are available for Career Edge
If you’re attending more than one course, you’d naturally be paying the above-listed fees per course.
Is NYU’s SPS High School Academy Prestigious?
While the program is officially a part of NYU, there are some factors you should consider. For one, it operates under the School of Professional Studies - a school more focused on continuing education programs and certificates, and though it does have graduate and undergraduate programs as well, it’s no Stern or Tisch.
Secondly, there is no data on the selectivity of the program or the number of spots available on the courses. Lastly, the courses themselves are no more than a week-long, and no matter how rigorous they may be, there is only so much value you’ll be able to extract, and future admissions counselors and hiring managers will know this. We would recommend you reconsider opting for this program if you are looking to boost your college application profile from the point of view of garnering prestige value. These courses, in themselves, will not impress admission officers. However, if you apply what you’ve learnt in one of these courses to a passion project, then this course will form part of that narrative and showcase how methodically you approach learning/upskilling and apply those learnings.
For example, say you take the course on “Book Publishing: from Editor to Reader” and then you land up writing and publishing a substantial book or even heading your school magazine. You could be onto something there and this course will tie in with the larger narrative of your profile.
Should You Apply?
This will depend on a bunch of questions that you should think through:
Are you unsure about potential majors or career tracks? If yes, then this can be a good investment for you to get a quick feel for options. These programs may not help you shortlist what you should pursue, but they'll help you eliminate some things if you quickly get a sense that it’s not for you.
Are there particular ‘skills’ you’d like to pick up? If yes, there are some courses that should work well for you, especially since opportunities to learn them in school or outside might be limited.
Exploring Visual and Graphic Design
Criminal Justice: From The Crime Scene to the Court Room…And Beyond
Fashion Design in New York City
Which courses might not be the best options to help you decide if a career is right for you?
Entrepreneurship and Business Startups - the field is too vast to be covered comprehensively so you might not end up making a solid choice. It won’t teach you a particular skill either. However, the course on Fundamentals of Social Entrepreneurship could be great because it is a focused program targeting a specific type of entrepreneurship. You can also take a look at programs such as B-BAY, LaunchX, and LeanGap.
Exploring careers in medicine: you are better off looking at research mentorship or medical internship programs for high school students.
This is also a good option if you’re already considering more intense, longer-term programs in a specific field but you’re not absolutely certain yet - the site visits and case studies in Career Edge may be what you need to help you decide either way.
Pros & Cons
If you’re still on the fence, here’s a list of pros and cons for you to consider to help you decide:
You have access to diverse course offerings: This is one of the few programs not restricted only to STEM fields or arts fields, providing instead a healthy mix of courses from across the career spectrum. Especially for high school juniors and sophomores, who may still be in the phase of deciding what career option to pursue, this is a great benefit.
You will gain industry exposure (in some of the courses): All courses in the program call in one or more experts and guest lecturers to provide an insider's view of various industries, helping you understand the real-world applications of your studies and how the industry actually works on a day-to-day, hands-on basis.
You will have networking opportunities: Being a part of the program allows you to network with the aforementioned industry professionals as well as your peers, potentially forming connections that could benefit you in the future.
You will experience college life: Whether you commute or stay on campus, you will attend lectures, eat in the dining hall, potentially attend residence hall evening events, go out for meals to local restaurants, and work on assignments together - in short, you will experience much of what college has to offer, even if it is for a short time.
You get no college credit: Unlike some other pre-college programs, the Career Edge program does not offer college credits for the courses attended. If you are looking to receive college credit, consider other pre-college offerings by NYU here.
You can’t participate remotely: This is a fully on-campus program, either residential or commuting. There is no online-only option available.
You don’t have non-summer options: While the courses themselves are short, there are no options available for doing them outside of summer if your summer is already tied up in pursuing other programs. The SPS does offer some other pre-college programs that run in the fall.
You may face potentially high costs: The program itself is not cheap. Further, If you’re not a New York resident, then you will have to move to the New York area to either live on campus or find a place to rent close enough that you can commute for the duration of the course. This is especially true if you’re an International student, as you will also need to pay visa and processing fees.
The program is limited in duration: A single week might be a relatively short time to explore the complex subjects on offer in depth. You will get a primer and a baseline understanding, but it’s hard to expect that you will get any form of deep learning from such a short stint.
In conclusion, SPS High School Academy’s Career Edge program is a good entry point option for you to test out one or various career fields that you may be interested in pursuing. The large number of course options available, the focus on industry exposure and site visits, as well as the option to go for more than one subject, make it a good choice if you’re looking to figure out what career you want to go for. Unfortunately, the limited duration and time investment of each course also makes the program less desirable if you’re focused on your goal and looking for more intensive learning. While the program is technically open to international students, being purely on-site in a location like New York means that you have to strongly consider the costs involved before making your decision.
Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you’re looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research on aspects of business, strategy and entrepreneurship, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.
Image Source: NYU SPS logo