How I Paid $0 for My Son's Summer Program

Are you looking for summer programs for high school students?

I was recently hunting for a high school summer program for my son Ben. I paid for an online physics summer school program at Stanford that cost about $500, but I ended up going elsewhere and cut the price down to $0!

Before I explain how, I want to state the obvious:  summer can be a good time for students  to brush up on a subject that they struggle with. Summer programs for high school teens can also be an excellent way for advanced students to learn even more about a subject that interests them.

My son Ben wants (okay wants may be too strong a word) to take a summer enrichment program in physics because he hopes to major in physics in college. Ben, however, is a senior at a charter high school, where all students take physics in their freshmen year. That was a long time ago for Ben and it wasn’t a calculus-based physics class.

Stanford’s Online Program

Ben has taken lots of math classes at his local community college over the past 1 ½ years, but the physics class during the summer wasn’t calculus-based. I did, however, find a summer physics class at Stanford through its Educational Program for Gifted Youth (EPGY).

Ben ordered the physics textbook and was all ready to go except for one problem:  Stanford’s software only works on PC computers! We have four Apple computers in our household.

It’s hard to believe that Stanford, in the heart of the Silicon Valley, uses archaic software that excludes Macs, but getting angry (and I did) wasn’t going to help.

So what did we do? Ben looked online for physics lectures on YouTube. He found a professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, whose lectures are posted on YouTube. The professor is an affable guy and Ben would much rather listen to a professor than just reading a dense textbook.

MIT’s Online Program

MIT’s OpenCourseWare has gotten a lot of great press and kudos for videotaping all its courses for anyone who wants to watch, but there are a lot of other schools out there posting lectures online too. I’d check out various choices and save yourself some money.

Ben, by the way, likes the UMKC professor, better than the MIT lectures he’s watched online!

Bottom Line:

  1. Check community colleges for summer classes for teenagers.
  2. Check Stanford’s EPGY program for summer school programs for smart kids. (Beware of the weird MAC issue.)
  3. Check YouTube for lectures on academic topics that interest your child.

Lynn O’Shaughnessy is the author of The College Solution and she also writes a college blog at CBSMoneyWatch. Follow her on Twitter.

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