Enrichment programs are relatively short courses based around a single topic. Each session usually lasts no more than a few weeks or a month. Although traditional programs were relatively simple, contemporary programs have been providing more ambitious and exotic options. Some programs are even being held abroad. The competition between different programs is giving families a considerable number of choices.
Subjects for enrichment programs can be virtually anything. Here are some examples of programs:
- Miniature college courses
- Musical theater
- Cultural studies
- Young artists
A considerable number of programs are available. Most colleges and universities offer programs oriented around their course selections on campus. Even the pickiest child or teenager should be able to discover a program that will fit their interests. Programs generally run for as little as 5 days up to 5 or 6 weeks. Longer programs will usually provide accommodations in a dormitory-style setting.
When choosing a program, include the child or teenager in the discussion. They’ll be more likely to fully participate in a program they want to attend. Involving the child into the choice of a program can help to avoid conflicts. Choosing a program that interests them will give them the opportunity to make friends who want to learn about the same topic.
If choosing a program located abroad, parents should look for one affiliated with a domestic university. This can give parents a local resource in the event of an emergency or problem. A domestic university also may help keep standards up to American expectations.
Although costs have been rising, nearly all enrichment programs will offer some form of financial aid or scholarships. It may not be publicized well, so parents should ask before enrolling. Most programs only have a limited amount of financial aid. Programs generally want to award their financial aid to the most deserving attendees because of the scarcity. Some programs may require proof of an attendee’s financial need. Enroll early to avoid missing out if cost is an issue.
Programs may vary in what materials they provide to attendees. Some may not provide any of the materials that will be needed. Others may supply each attendee with the necessary items and include everything in the overall cost. It is usually rare for programs to provide loaner materials, but musical programs may stock spare instruments. Parents should look over any requirements carefully before enrolling their child.
Admissions may be highly competitive for programs at large universities or those with well-established reputations. Some programs may ask for an essay or writing sample. Writing topics generally are about the program’s subject matter. Other programs accept students with a high grade point average. A verified school transcript will need to be submitted. Most programs have deadlines well in advance of the actual session because of the limited number of attendees. Parents will need to schedule in advance. Late payment penalties or dropout fees have become more common recently to keep sessions full.
Most programs encourage repeat attendees, either through discounted costs or other rewards. Programs may offer discounts for various other reasons as well. University-based programs occasionally allow children of alumni to receive a lower admissions price. Referrals may also receive a discount.
However, enrichment programs should be approached with a little caution and some common sense. Unlike schools or universities, there is no national accreditation standard. Some programs will be more educational and held to higher standards than others. Typically programs that are affiliated and sponsored by a university will have a decent quality. Parents should seek former attendees and ask for their opinion if possible. Look for programs with clearly denoted schedules. Large blocks of free time without instruction or supervision should be a red flag. There should be a policy for emergencies and parents should be immediately notified.
Parents should only consider a program with qualified staff that has been vetted. Volunteer programs may be nice, but the quality of the instruction can vary drastically. Pick a program with staff that has educational credentials in the program’s topic field. Programs that refuse or are unable to provide staff credentials should be avoided. For overnight programs, especially with younger children, parents should know how the children will be supervised and where they will sleep.
For a youth of any age, enrichment programs are a valuable way to learn about any possible topic. Enrolling in a program can provide supplemental education to the generalized curriculum and test scores in most school systems. Children and teenagers can pick a program with a topic that interests them and receive hands-on education. Enrichment programs are available to interested parties of any age. For a short session, a program is a great way to add to a resume or simply have an enjoyable experience with a topic a child loves.