How to Write Your Summer Program Application Essays

In our last post about extracurriculars and resume-building, Madison talked about finding a summer program that works for you. Now that you’ve figured that out, I’m here to give some pointers on how to write the application essays for whichever program you choose.

As in the college application process, these essays are going to show the admissions officers why you’re a good candidate for the program. Acceptance rates range from 25% (Yale Young Global Scholars Program) to 5% (Research Science Institute), so you’ll want to do your best to present yourself as the unique and talented individual you are. On top of that, you’ll need to show that you really did your research and prove that this program is an excellent fit for you. To do that effectively:

  • Don’t just talk about why you’re qualified, talk about why you want to join this program in particular.
  • Describe how this program will help you grow and achieve your academic and career goals
  • Be specific about what you hope to research (i.e. don’t just give area of research, formulate an exact question you’re interested in exploring)

Here are three kinds of questions that may come up. These are asked in order to get a feel for who you are and where you will go with the help of the program. 


This question serves to introduce yourself both to the admissions committee and the mentor that you will be working with if accepted. Give an overview of your professional achievements and interests, but also show personality; ensure that you give the best view of yourself while seeming approachable. 

Your relationship with your mentor will continue for some weeks, so you’ll want to get along as quickly as possible. Some programs allow you to choose your mentor, but even if you can’t pick, read through the mentor bios to get an idea of who is connected to the program and how to tailor your introduction to the mentor that best fits your experience and interest.

Topic Overview

What are you interested in pursuing during this program? Show your excitement. What have you been doing lately that connects to this topic? What progress have you made? This is where the specifics come in

Why are you interested in this topic?

This is the real kicker. Are you doing this just for your resume? Or are you genuinely passionate about your project? Some of the strongest essays begin with a personal connection to the topic, such as a family member who has suffered from a specific disease that you now want to research. But even if you don’t have a personal connection, you still need to make an impassioned argument. What keeps you intrigued and motivated to keep going with this one subject? What do you hope to achieve? If you haven’t decided on a project yet, make sure you sound passionate about the subject matter by giving examples of questions you’d like to find the answers to.

Don’t wait to get involved in summer programs. Not only do they look excellent on your resume, they provide fodder for supplemental essays down the line in your college applications. And if you’d like assistance on your summer program application essays, we do that too

Hillary K.

Essay Specialist

University of Virginia

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