Pre-college summer programs abound nowadays, thanks to the numerous opportunities offered up by colleges for the summer months. Programs in chemistry, biology, music, art, writing, sports, and more are all available to those who are interested. But if that’s the case, then, which ones should you choose? Which ones are going to fit your needs and desires the best? Which ones are just right for you?

Well, that’s what we’re here to help you figure out. The variation among pre-college programs is enough to boggle the mind and cause paralysis between the different choices, but fortunately, there are criteria that you can use to narrow down the list for yourself. Here are some of the best things to look for that can help you to figure out which programs make sense for you.

What are you hoping to get out of your pre-college programs?

This is a basic one, but it’s absolutely crucial to answer before you can really narrow down any of your choices from a college summer programs search. It’s important to determine if what you’re looking for is an experience of life on your own, or academic opportunities, or an experience of a new location, or anything else. You can read more about some of the possible things you might be looking for in Peterson’s pre-college summer programs article.

Answering this question is not going to mean that you shouldn’t look at the other traits or qualities of potential pre-college programs. But it does mean that in your search for college summer programs, you’ll have an idea of what the most important criterion is for you. If you want to go to a new place, a new location, somewhere you’ve never been before, then you’ll know not to pick some place to which you’ve traveled previously. If you want to know what life is like on your own, then you’ll know not to pick some place very close to home. If you want to go somewhere to further your own academic interests, then you’ll know to be certain that the program you choose is providing courses or academic opportunities in your subject.

What’s the duration of the pre-college programs?

Another simple one, right? Well, maybe not. See, there are going to be all manner of pre-college programs available to you to choose from, and the duration of those programs is going to change your own experience. If you’re there for 3 weeks, that’s going to be entirely different from being there for 12 weeks. What’s more, if you’re at any one of the college summer programs that interest you for a relatively short amount of time, then it may be possible for you to attend more than one of those college summer programs to get an even more varied experience.

Chances are, this question is going to be most important in light of the prior question. If you’re looking into pre-college programs for an experience of life on your own, then you may want a longer program, to get your feet under you and really get a taste for that flavor of life. If you want to see some new places, or experience what life is like across different college campuses, then chances are you’ll want to go to a number of different college summer programs if you can. If you want academic opportunities, then a single, longer program which has excellent offerings may be right for you.

Regardless, though, the length of the pre-college programs you’re looking at is going to have a significant impact on whether or not you feel they’re right for you.

What’s the cost of these pre-college programs?

Chances are that if you’re a student, then you’re not going to be paying for your pre-college programs yourself, straight out of your own pocket. There’ll be exceptions of course, and for those students who are paying for any pre-college programs, the cost is going to be even more important. But even if your parents are willing to pay for the college summer programs you might choose to attend, or if you managed to get some kind of scholarship, the cost is still going to be very important to your overall choices.

You’re going to want to know the costs of living in the area, the costs of food, and the costs of anything else you might choose to do, be that traveling, participating in activities, or anything. Keep in mind that some cities will host college summer programs with significantly greater expenses than might others. Rural college summer programs especially should have a low cost.