7 Reasons It’s a Good Idea to Book Your Summer School Programme Early
In autumn, you’re likely to be starting a new school year, and having a lot to think about. Your plans for next summer may be the last thing on your mind.
So it might surprise you to learn that it’s well worth the effort to take some time and think about what you want to do next summer now. It can even be sensible to go beyond thinking about it, and proceed to booking your summer school for next year, before your memories of this summer have had a chance to fade.
At Oxford Royale Academy, our bookings for summer 2020 are already open, so take a look at what’s available for our 2020 summer school and get your booking in early.
1. Have the full choice of programmes and locations
One of the best reasons to book early is that you can have the fullest possible choice of programmes and locations. On a popular summer school such as Oxford Royale Academy, programmes will sell out before the start of the summer, so booking early ensures that you can get a place on the course you want. That’s particularly the case if you have restrictions around which session you could attend, and which location you’d like to study at. And for courses such as Broadening Horizons and New Perspectives, where you choose from a range of different course options, booking early is particularly important to ensure you can study the combination that you want.
Booking early also helps to ensure that the course you want goes ahead. Summer schools need a minimum number of bookings to run their courses, so if there aren’t enough, the course might not go ahead. You don’t want to see a course that you like the look of and decide to book later, only to find out that too few people have been interested and so the summer school haven’t been able to proceed with it. That’s particularly true of exciting new or experimental courses, where summer schools are likely to keep a very close eye on whether they’re being booked or not.
This goes double if you’re booking with family members, or as a group of friends who all want to live at the same campus so you can socialise together. At Oxford Royale Academy, we keep our class sizes small so that every student can get lots of interaction with the teacher, to accelerate their learning. That means that courses can fill up more quickly than you might expect; you wouldn’t want to book later and find out that not all your friends can study in the same location because one of the programmes you’re interested in is full.
2. Avail of early-bird benefits
At Oxford Royale Academy, we’ve found that some of our students and their parents will choose to combine their summer school programme with a family holiday before or after, especially if they’re travelling from a long way away – it may be that the rest of the family doesn’t want to miss out on seeing the sights that our students have enjoyed visiting while they’ve been with us. Booking early can help you secure the kind of holiday you want to have with your family as well as your ideal summer school programme. And, if you’re flying a long distance, you might be able to get better flights for less by booking in good time; don’t get stuck on a red-eye if you don’t have to.
There are additional benefits available to early booking if, for instance, you’re using air miles to get travel deals. Having your summer school booked early means you can keep an eye on holiday options and book whenever the best deals are available (some apps such as Skyscanner will advise whether it’s better to book now or book later), rather than running the risk of booking a holiday, and then not getting the summer school programme that you wanted.
3. Take the stress out of planning the summer
There can be a lot of admin involved in planning your summer break, especially if you are adding a holiday on to your summer school trip. Visas can take time to process, and you might need to get vaccinations depending on where you’re heading (thankfully, only routine vaccinations are required for travel to the UK). Booking your summer school early means that you’ll have plenty of time to get all of this done, and you’ll save yourself a lot of last-minute stress.
That’s particularly important if this is an exam year for you at school. While the exams might seem a long way away from the perspective of the autumn term, the time will go by quicker than you might think. You don’t want to have to be thinking about revision at the same time as you’re considering whether you’ve filled in all your medical details correctly or whether you’ll be able to get your visa back in time to travel; in an important school year, it’s much better if all your focus can be on your studies.
Again, this is especially important if you’re travelling with a larger group of friends or relatives. While you might find doing your own last-minute planning to be reasonably stress-free, that might not hold if you’re trying to coordinate with friends who are unreliable about checking the group chat.
If you live in the UK, or a short journey away in continental Europe, you might think that this doesn’t apply to you – and it’s true that booking your summer school and associated travel is a lot easier when you can just hop on a train, rather than needing two or more flights to get here. But you’ll still need to coordinate your time at a summer school around other things, such as picking up GCSE or A-level results – which can be a pretty stressful time even without other planning to do.
4. Book with a summer school that operates year-round
You might not be aware that many summer schools operate on a “pop-up” basis – that is, they launch in March or even April, having organised programmes, activities and excursions in a considerable hurry. Unsurprisingly, summer schools that operate like this tend to offer a lower-quality experience; they simply don’t have enough time to make their programmes outstanding.
It can be remarkably difficult to tell from a website whether a summer school operates year-round or on a pop-up basis; after all, the pop-up summer schools don’t tend to advertise the fact, and a professional-looking website is more affordable now than ever. Booking early is one very good way to be sure that your summer school is reliable and well-established; if their website is live and they are taking course bookings for the next summer only a short while after the previous summer’s sessions have ended, then that’s a very good sign that they operate on a long-term basis, and sufficient planning will have gone into the summer school experience that they offer. Typically, you can’t book early for a pop-up summer school because they won’t yet have sprung into being, and may not even have determined when, where or if their courses will be running.
Oxford Royale Academy is proud to operate year-round, having been established on that basis since 2005. We have a long history of outstanding summer schools, with sufficient experience to deliver a high-quality product to all our students. Operating year-round means we can answer students’ queries at any time, support larger groups and more complex bookings, take on and action any feedback we receive, and ensure every aspect of our summer school exceeds your expectations.
5. Arrange to meet up with friends before you lose touch
One of the best things about a summer school is the friends you make while you’re there. They could be from anywhere in the world and it might be hard to meet up with them, or even stay in touch, after the summer school has finished – no matter how much you might want to. Daily life, and your return to your normal school, can simply get in the way. Booking early for next year is a great way of keeping these friendships going for longer, so that when you leave the summer school determined that you’ll be friends for life, you can actually keep that promise, because you know you’ll be seeing them again in less than a year’s time.
Booking early means less coordination for you and your summer school friends, because you’ll be able to get your choice of courses and locations, as discussed above; you could all arrange to be at the same campus even if you want to study different programmes. And it means making these plans before you’ve got to the point where you haven’t spoken for a few months, and you’re wondering whether they’ll all still want to meet up next year. It’s almost always the case that they will – but someone needs to initiate it, and that gets harder the further away from the summer school you get.
6. Make sure you’re ready for the summer school’s requirements
At Oxford Royale Academy, all our programmes in the UK and the USA are taught through English, and students need to have a certain level of English-language ability to take part. Our EFL courses require a minimum English proficiency level of B1 as defined in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), and our other programmes require a minimum level of B2. If English isn’t your native language, our programmes – EFL or otherwise – are a great way to improve, giving you the opportunity to interact with new friends from all over the world with English as a lingua franca. You’ll be amazed how much this kind of immersion can help you improve in just a couple of weeks.
However, if your English isn’t at that standard yet, booking early gives you a goal and a motivation to improve. This isn’t just the case for Oxford Royale Academy; different summer school courses have different minimum standards for different programmes, and if you’re not quite sure if you meet them – or if you’d prefer to go to the summer school knowing you’re comfortably above the minimum standard – then an early booking means you have the whole year to improve. It’s much better than booking last-minute and then being concerned about whether your language or academic abilities will be good enough to keep up with the demands of the course.
7. Have last summer fresh in your mind
At the end of every summer, when you’re heading back to school, it’s natural to think about what went well and what didn’t – even if it’s just a sense of regret that you should have spent a bit more time studying, or that you spend too much time studying and you should have spent a bit more time outside enjoying the sunshine. By the time it gets to next summer, you’ve probably forgotten all about those conclusions, which is how you can end up making the same mistakes year after year.
Booking your next year’s summer school while your thoughts about this year are still fresh in your mind can result in a much better summer experience. Maybe that’s about location – you’d really prefer a big city like London, but by the time the next summer rolls around, you’ve feeling tempted by Oxford’s dreaming spires. Or maybe there’s pressure from family or friends to study something creative, while you’d most enjoy a STEM programme like Engineering Preparation. Getting your booking in early means that you can study the summer school programme that you know would be more enjoyable and educational for you, building on your achievements of this year so that next year’s summer experience is even better.
All images in this article were taken at Oxford Royale Academy summer schools.