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The Ivy League Experience Ages 14-18

ORA's Boston Summer School 2020
Similar courses available in Oxford | Cambridge | London | Yale

Immerse yourself in student life in Cambridge, Massachusetts this summer, following a flexible programme in which you choose a major and a minor subject. Explore subjects that are entirely new or boost your knowledge in an area of specific interest, living and studying in a comfortable student campus in the heart of the city.

2 or 4 weeks | Available July-August 2020

  • Experience life in Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Expert tutoring from ORA's faculty
  • Choose your Majors and Minors - build your programme
  • International student community
  • Includes visits to downtown Boston

Course Summary

The Ivy League Experience from Oxford Royale Academy has been specifically designed for students who are looking for a general introduction and insight into studying at a top US university like Yale, whilst learning more about their chosen subjects.

Available for students aged 13-18, the programme requires students to choose a 'major' subject and a 'minor' subject, which they will follow for two weeks of scintillating study. Should students wish to stay for four weeks, this is possible, and students will be asked to choose two majors and two minors. Majors are more traditional academic subjects, whilst minors are more skills-based and are focused on building such valuable attributes as leadership, team-working skills, presentation skills and more. For information on the majors and minors available, please see the 'Course Outcomes' section of this webpage.

What to expect from the Ivy League Experience

This course has been specifically designed to provide students with an insight into university life in the United States. Students will nominate both a major and a minor subject, and will spend two weeks building their knowledge and skills in their chosen subject areas.

Students will follow their major subject for 30 hours across each two-week session, and will follow their minor choice for ten-and-a-half hours per session.

In their major class, students will learn in a variety of styles, such as traditional classroom learning, interactive seminars and through debates and discussions with fellow students from around the world. Students can expect to have their views challenged and discuss different points of view, and can expect to leave with new insights and a refreshed ability to defend their own viewpoints.

For the minor classes, which will be more skills-based, students can expect to work in small groups and individually in order to solve a problem or bring an idea to life. In doing so, they will work on key attributes for future study and employment, including presentation skills, leadership, teambuilding, creative thinking and evaluating potential solutions.

Course Outcomes

By the end of this course, students will have:

  • Experienced a flexible summer programme with a combination of multiple subjects
  • Gained knowledge and experience to boost their academic performance
  • Tried out new subjects of their choice
  • Improved their practical skills
  • Developed a deeper appreciation of their chosen subjects
  • Honed their public speaking, debating, writing or leadership skills in their chosen workshop area
  • Made friends for life and formed a global network of the leaders of the future

Topics Covered

Students are required to choose one major and one minor. Click on the subjects below to learn more about each one.

This Creative Writing major aims both to inspire students, and to provide students with an overview of techniques and processes available to writers, encouraging them to think beyond their perceived limitations while equipping them to exceed themselves.

Students are encouraged to experiment with their own writing, as well as engaging in literary reviews of writing that have preceded them. Based around advice and examples from famous American literary figures, students will encounter the obstacles and opportunities that present themselves when writing – including learning ways to overcome the dreaded writer’s block.

The Journalism major is designed to immerse students in the study of journalism by developing their ability to respond critically to a wide range of journalistic media; it is suitable for both those seeking general exposure to the field and those who aim to pursue a career in journalism and want to hone their skills while considering journalism's requirements.

“I am deeply interested in the progress and elevation of journalism, having spent my life in that profession, regarding it as a noble profession and one of unequalled importance for its influence upon the minds and morals of the people.” Joseph Pulitzer – journalist, publisher, and founder of the Pulitzer Prizes.

The course will look at broadcast as well as print journalism, and the increasingly relevant world of online news. While the primary focus will be on journalism in the US, the diversity of nationalities in attendance on the course (students from nearly 50 different nationalities attended the Oxford course last year) will also provide a valuable perspective on how news is reported around the world.

The course combines analysis of the theories behind journalism with practical guidance on writing and approaches to journalistic technique. Consequently, assessment will take two forms: students will produce their own article from a range of options and will also analyse a publication, considering its style, target audience and editorial tone, and producing a ‘pen portrait’ of a typical reader. They will consider how writing can inform, educate and entertain, and how best to write for different purposes and audiences. Profile and travel writing will be addressed alongside comment and news pieces.

In the second week students will be placed into small groups with a view to producing their own print magazine. This will educate students about all the processes of journalism, from writing to publication, while developing skills in teamwork and collaboration. Finally, the course will provide invaluable experience for students who are interested in embarking on a future career in journalism, teaching them about the day-to-day reality of a journalist’s work and providing some career guidance for this competitive field.

The Medical Biology major is designed for students who wish to extend their knowledge and understanding of the science behind modern medical practice, encouraging students to consider human health and its wider impact more broadly.

The course uses class discussion, debates, presentations, role plays and written work to explore topics that students might not have encountered before, and to encourage students to think more broadly about human health and how it relates to wider social, political and environmental factors. The lessons aim to be an interactive and challenging introduction to medical sciences, and students are expected to get involved in discussions and to participate fully in class activities.

The Medical Biology course consists of ten 90-minute sessions, in which the following topics are covered: diabetes, arterial disease, heart attacks and strokes, infectious diseases, brain diseases, the the designing of medical research studies, and medical imaging techniques. Students will even have the opportunity to participate in a hands-on heart dissection, should they wish to try this.

This course provides the perfect introduction for students who are thinking of pursuing future careers such as nursing, pharmacology, midwifery, nutrition or medical technology, or indeed broader related fields such as public health or global development. It may also be of interest to students who have settled on a path in the sciences and who are unsure which specialism they might like to pursue in future. Of course, having future plans that relate to medical biology is not essential for taking this course; it has relevance in all of our lives and students may wish to pursue it out of pure intellectual curiosity and the desire for a challenge.

The Engineering major provides students with a comprehensive grounding in all aspects of engineering. The practical skills and theoretical knowledge gained will undoubtedly ensure an advantage in future studies and careers in the sector.

During their two weeks of study, participants will dive straight into the discipline, covering the diverse branches of Engineering Science including Civil, Structural and Mechanical. Practical skills will be acquired through a series of design-led workshops, enabling students to gain a thorough understanding of the discipline. Classes will also ensure that students are taught the fundamental principles of each strand of Engineering Science and that individuals are well-equipped for a future in engineering.

This course offers an interactive learning experience for students keen to immerse themselves in the dynamic field of Engineering Science. Classes will incorporate the technical and analytical skills that are vital to pursuing a degree and career in Engineering.

The programme is suitable both for those seeking to experience the practical applications of scientific theory and for those who aim to pursue further study in the field of Engineering Science.

The Law and Legal Studies major is the perfect programme for any student considering future studies or a career in Law. During two weeks of interactive study and discussion, students on the course will be immersed in a variety of different fields within the discipline.

The overall aim of this programme - available outside of Oxford for the first time in 2019 - is to provide participants with an initial advantage as they start their journey towards becoming a lawyer. The focus of the course is on assessing and evaluating the role of Law in society whilst appreciating its foundations and the core theoretical values of the discipline.

Students will be introduced to multiple legal strands in the US, including Jurisprudence, Constitutional Law, Criminal Law and Tort Law. It will equip students with a strong set of logical and argumentative skills, alongside techniques that will enable them to construct convincing arguments both in essays and in oral debate.

A minor designed for students with a keen interest in business and entrepreneurship.

Our dynamic Business Challenge workshop has been designed to get students thinking about what makes a good business strategy, as they start up their own entrepreneurial brainchild and test it against the practical realities of business management. Students are divided into groups for the challenge, and must negotiate real-life obstacles such as marketing, budgeting, and the importance of leadership and teamwork in a business context. Within this context students are encouraged to be innovative and consider their own role in the launching of a hypothetical new product.

Students have the opportunity to develop any idea of their group’s choice, in order to exercise their creativity to the full. Each group will be expected to present some detailed written work, which will be produced collaboratively, and make a formal presentation to the judges and other students. This reflects the skill set required of entrepreneurs in real life and helps students improve their own approach to management and enterprise. Students can expect to increase their confidence in themselves and in their ideas as their presentation and sales skills are honed.

Each group will be expected to present a brief in which they describe their product, outline their mission statement and corporate objectives, present a marketing audit consisting of their own primary and secondary research, outline their marketing objectives and marketing strategy as well as how much finance they require. The workshops will use a variety of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic activities, tasks and skills to help all learners participate effectively. The main aim of the workshop is to consolidate their class-based learning and encourage students to be business leaders – creative, innovative and team-spirited.

In this minor, students focus on developing their presentation and advocacy skills: an understanding of how to plan a speech; build a strong and persuasive argument; and to give a convincing speech, with plenty of practice to build confidence for the future.

In addition, this course replicates contexts that students are likely to encounter in their future academic, professional, and social development, equipping them with lessons from great leaders of the past.

Over two weeks, students will work on practical aspects of speech giving, such as body language, clarity of delivery and maintaining eye contact with their audience. Students gain wide-ranging experience of public speaking and debate, and by the end of the course they have a firm grounding in essential skills and feel confident in their ability to take on new challenges.

In each session students are shown new techniques and strategies, and then given plenty of opportunities to put these into practice. Sessions are structured so that there is plenty of time for questions and discussion; this approach is central to all ORA courses, but none more so than Public Speaking and Debate, where the chance to speak up is paramount. The two-week period leads up to a formal debating competition for the whole class on a chosen subject.

The course also looks at a variety of famous speeches from history up to the present day to see how famous speakers and leaders have used various techniques, and what students can learn from their success: Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ and Julia Gillard’s ‘misogyny speech’ are both rigorously analysed.

The workshop debates address a variety of issues, ranging from easily accessible topics (e.g. the length of school holidays or the value of school uniform) to more complex and challenging social issues (the death penalty, euthanasia, the legalisation of drugs) depending on age group.

Students will work alongside peers from across the world, often from very different cultures and backgrounds. This is a valuable opportunity to learn respectful discourse with those who hold different beliefs – crucial when discussing delicate social and political problems in debate.

This minor serves as an overview and a ‘taster’ of the fundamental skills and techniques that are used by actors on both stage and screen.

Students will explore essential body, voice and acting skills through the medium of skill-based improvisation. This is a form of improvisation devised by the originator of theatre improvisation, Viola Spolin, and unlike many forms of improvisation does not have its focus on ‘performance’.

Instead, students will focus on skill development for all aspects of theatre work; voice, body, characterisation, blocking/use of the stage, stage crafts, motivation and emotion. A non-judgemental approach to acting is encouraged on this course – where it is not encouraged to see things in terms of ‘good and bad’ or ‘right and wrong’ but rather to promote intuition, imagination, problem solving and freedom of action (both internal and external/physical), which will give all students on the course a sense of confidence, and is designed to bring out true potential, however hidden. The influences on the techniques used in this course are derived not just from Spolin but also from Konstantin Stanislavski, Uta Hagen, Michael Shurtleff and Augusto Boal.

The Film minor is an intensive film-making programme, designed and delivered by industry professionals. The first part of the process is to learn the basics of production – planning, script writing and development, location scouting, and story-boarding. Filming takes place on location, giving students the opportunity to see numerous beautiful and interesting locations around New Haven and students will use industry-standard HD video equipment, lighting, microphones and monitor.

Once the film is shot, students use the latest Apple Macs and Final Cut Pro to edit their masterpiece. Credits and titles complete the production, before the films are remastered for web release and their own portfolios. Many films are even shown at the Graduation ceremony, proving the strength of the material produced during the course.

Take this course if...

You are thinking about attending university or college in the United States, and would like an insight into what that would be like; and you would like to spend two or four weeks on the campus of one of the best universities in the world, studying alongside like-minded peers and building your knowledge and skills in academic disciplines both familiar and entirely new.

Welcome to Boston - a true taste of American college life awaits!

View of the Charles River in Boston

Join us in Boston in 2020 and live and study in the heart of Cambridge, Massachusetts, a buzzing student city located in the Boston Metropolitan Area, and just a short trip away from downtown Boston. Experience student life in this thriving centre of academic excellence, home to some of the world's most prestigious institutions such as Harvard and MIT, and study a range of fascinating subjects with ORA tutors. Home will be a comfortable student campus in the centre of Cambridge, from which you will be able to explore Cambridge's quirky culture of cafés, second-hand bookshops, tech startups and more. (Please note that this program is not owned, controlled or supervised by Harvard University or any of its schools or programs.)

Typical street scene in Cambridge Massachusetts
Harvard bridge and view of Harvard university
Cobbled streets in Boston

Outside of class, the extra-curricular programme is designed to ensure students the most of Cambridge and the surrounding area. Students will enjoy guided tours of the city, its universities, museums and other most famous sites, along with excursions to downtown Boston and its iconic attractions such as Fenway Park, home to the Boston Red Sox. On campus, workshops in leadership, team-building, public speaking and more are designed to ensure students develop their personal skills as well as their academic ability, all of which are put to the test in the 'Escape Challenge'!

Famous landmark in Boston
View of the entrance of MIT
View of entrance to Fenway Park, home of the Boston Red Sox

Useful information for students & parents


Students at Boston will be accommodated in Hastings Hall, 1541 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138, in twin or single rooms. Accommodation is the standard accommodation for students at Hastings Hall, with bathrooms shared between small groups of students of the same gender.

Learn more about our Boston campus.

Pastoral care & student welfare

The programme is overseen by the Programme Director, who implements the day-to-day running of the programme. The Director is assisted by a team of Counsellors who ensure that students are looked after pastorally, culturally and socially during their programme. Students are able to talk informally and frankly to the Counsellors in order to raise concerns or to discuss university applications. Each campus has members of residential staff who live in the college throughout the programme and are able to assist students at any time of the day or night.

Eligibility & pre-requisites

Students on this course:

  • Must conform to our age policy.
  • Must be fluent or near-fluent English language speakers – if you are unsure whether your English level is suitable for this programme, please contact our Registrations Team on [email protected] and they will be able to assist you.
  • Must be able to fulfil the basic requirements of the programme, in terms of attendance at lessons, meals and events. Please contact our Registrations Team for more detailed information.

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The Ivy League Experience for ages 14-18 | Boston is residential in the following venues:

(If your course takes place in more than one campus in the same city and you would like to know more about which location you will be allocated, please call our admissions team)

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