Contact usCareers

Summer School Questions Answered

Are you interested in joining a summer school? Perhaps you have heard about them but you’re not exactly sure what they are about?

From helping you to advance in your academic knowledge, giving you the opportunity to explore a new university city with friends from around the world, gain clarity on what or where you may want to study at university – there are so many reasons why attending a UK summer school may benefit you.

We’ve compiled a definitive guide to summer schools, with the top 15 searched summer school questions answered. Take a look at them below to find out more about what you could expect.

1. What is summer school?

A summer school, also commonly known as a summer course, is a short, usually residential course for students, giving them the opportunity to explore a subject they’re passionate about, while experiencing life in a new city or country.

Summer schools usually take place during the summer months (hence the name), and within school or university grounds. This allows students to gain an authentic understanding of what it’s like to live and study in that educational setting.

Depending on the provider, summer schools can offer a variety of options for students: they can help with building knowledge on a particular subject; they can present an opportunity to explore a new city and culture; and they can also be designed to help students build a set of skills and abilities that will help them in their future.

When exploring all the summer schools available to you, be sure to check that they offer exactly what you are looking to gain. Many different providers offer slightly different learning objectives, study methods, and subject offerings – so be sure to research them carefully and pick the one that’s right for you.

2. What is the difference between summer school and summer camp?

There are only a few slight differences between summer schools and summer camps, with the main factor being the program of study.

Traditionally, summer schools tend to focus more heavily on academic study, while also incorporating day trips and fun activities into a student’s timetable. Meanwhile, a summer camp focuses more on the latter. They tend to offer more social, and recreational activities centred around a theme.

3. What is the difference between summer course and summer camp?

Summer courses and summer schools have minor differences between them and the name is used interchangeably by many providers. So, similar to the question above, the only real difference between summer courses and summer camps is the style of the program of study.

However, it’s also worth noting that summer courses and summer camps also tend to have a variation in the length of study. Often, summer camps will offer daily sessions, rather than residential programmes. Meanwhile, summer courses tend to take place over a longer period of time – ours start from one-week in length for juniors and two-weeks for students aged 13 and over.

This is so students can fully immerse themselves into the programme, really gaining the independence and experience of life as a student in a new city, making friends from around the world, and advancing their subject knowledge as much as possible.

4. What are summer programs for high school students?

A summer program for high school students will be designed to help a student excel their studies by attending academic classes during the summer months. Usually attended the summer before finals, they can help students to reinforce the knowledge they have learned during the previous year, and also be used as revision classes.

In addition, some summer programs for high school students may be designed to offer them a taste of university life, so they can begin to think about which university – if any – could be right for them.

These courses tend to be residential at a local or partnership university, giving students the chance to discover what university halls (accommodation) is like, what the teaching methods are like, and what extracurricular activities they can enjoy during their time there.


5. What are the benefits of summer school?

Students can gain endless benefits from attending a summer school, including at least one of the following:

  • Discover an authentic university experience

  • Advance subject knowledge

  • Explore subject options for the future

  • Make new friends from around the world

  • Gain independence and explore a new city or country

  • Experience world-renowned university teaching methods

  • Gain practical experience to apply to CVs and university applications

  • Support summer learning loss

  • Gain clarity on where to study in the future

  • For a more detailed look at the benefits of a summer school, please take a look at this blog.

6. What is Oxford Summer Courses?

Providing short and intensive courses for students aged 9-to-24, Oxford Summer Courses offers individuals an authentic taste of the Oxbridge experience.

First established in 2010 by school friends and Oxford alumni, Rob and Harry, our company grew from their passion to share their exceptional time at the University of Oxford with the rest of the world.

Many things have changed since we began in 2010; from beginning with just 30 students, we now cater to over 2,500; from just a handful of tutors in the beginning, we now have grown to a cohort of 200 – some of whom have been with us since day one!

Oxford Summer Courses has also shot to international acclaim, and now in addition to locations in the UK it runs courses in India, Chile, Peru, Singapore and Stanford USA, with several new locations in the pipeline.

You can find out more about Oxford Summer Courses and what we offer by clicking here.

7. How do I choose a summer school?

Finding the perfect summer school can be a tricky decision. You want to make sure that you’re choosing a course and a location that is suited to you, as well as somewhere that offers you the best teaching possible.

Before starting your research, make a list of everything you hope to gain from a summer school experience. Are you looking to experience the very best teaching the world? Focus more on your academic studies or on social activities? What cities or countries interest you?

Our aim at Oxford Summer Courses is to provide students with the very best learning experience possible; we select our tutors from some of the top universities in the world for their incredible levels of knowledge, passion, and ability to teach high-potential young minds. In addition to having an expert cohort of tutors, we are also one of the few summer courses who offer the renowned Oxford tutorial teaching method, which has proven to excel student’s critical thinking and ultimately, help students leave with a better understanding of their subject.

We also offer a number of locations for you to study at, which are home to some of the world’s best universities; the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, Stanford University, as well as at some of the best institutions in London, Singapore, and India.

Whilst studying in a new city or country, you’ll benefit from an enriching timetable of extracurricular and social activities, designed to introduce you to student life in these locations, help you develop critical skills for the future, and form better connections with those students who are joining you from around the world.

If you would like to discuss the other benefits that Oxford Summer Courses can offer you, then please contact us and speak to an adviser today.

8. How many hours a day is summer school?

Your time spent in academic sessions will vary depending on the summer school provider you study with – so you should always ask this question during your initial stages of enquiry.

At Oxford Summer Courses, we offer at least 14 hours of teaching time during a typical two week stay with us, excluding independent study and academic workshops.

9. What is the purpose of summer school?

Many believe that summer school exists solely for academic reasons. But we believe a summer school yields so much more for students.

Blending academic teaching with exciting extra-curricular activities, our summer courses are designed to immerse students in an authentic Oxbridge study experience; they’ll leave us having advanced their academic foundations, while, ultimately, having enjoyed the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience life as a student at a world-class university.

Designed for those who want to go above and beyond in their academics, a UK summer school will push you to further your knowledge around a particular subject, whilst developing a range of soft skills which will benefit you later in life as you advance into your career.

But outside of your studies, you’ll sample a range of local and student activities; with punting, university tours, day trips to English heritage sites, cinema trips, debate evenings and so much more on the agenda – our summer courses really serve you an authentic slice of the university experience.


10. Can you fail summer school?

Again, this is another question which varies between summer school companies, so always ensure you check with each individual provider.

At Oxford Summer Courses, as long as you complete your work to a high standard and show an excellent level of engagement in your studies, then there is no reason for you to fail, as we don’t base our curriculum on grades. Our Oxbridge methods of teaching are designed to encourage you to test the boundaries and work in a way which you may not have done before. A grading system may limit you to work in a certain style, as opposed to encouraging full creativity.

However, there are some summer schools which may offer a grades-based system which, if you don’t put the effort in, could cause you to fail. These are most often at international summer schools which are run by your school or college – where you may be studying over summer to improve your GPA score or re-sit a test.

11. Why is summer school so expensive?

Though it may seem expensive upon first glance, the price you pay for a summer school does cover a lot of expenses. Including your accommodation, day trips, the cost of hiring expert tutors, on-course staff and meals, there is a lot which goes into ensuring you have an amazing time. So the cost is most certainly worth it.

12. Is Oxford Summer Courses worth it?


We know there are lots of organisations offering summer schools in Oxford and Cambridge. But what we’ve come to realise is that none of them really offer an authentic slice of the Oxbridge student experience.

But being different from the competition is what inspired our founders, Rob and Harry, to establish Oxford Summer Courses in the first place.

Everything we do is to replicate this experience; we employ expert Oxbridge tutors, host courses within these inspiring university colleges, and curate timetables that reflect the unique mix of challenging academics and enriching social life that these world-famous universities have to offer.

And we can’t wait to share it with as many students as possible.

13. Does summer school help your GPA?

GPA (grade point average) is a points system used in the American education system to determine what your average grade is.

If a student has failed a subject class at high school, then some summer schools do offer the opportunity for them to try and re-sit the grade by attending a summer course in that particular subject.

Even summer schools that aren’t specifically aimed at improving you GPA can definitely help you to perform better in school, as you spend a set period of time immersing yourself and building on your knowledge of a particular subject.

If you study at Oxford Summer Courses, we only allow small class sizes (of no more than eight students) and one-to-one/one-to-two tutorials, meaning that you get a truly personalised teaching method, focused on your ability and nurturing the skills which you wish to work on.

14. How can I raise my GPA in high school?

Though they of course do not guarantee a raise in GPA, summer schools could help in raising a GPA in high school.

Building on your knowledge of a subject will certainly help when it comes to examination time at school. Especially if you’ve spent a few weeks on that one subject, gaining a deeper understanding of it.

As already mentioned, some summer courses do offer the chance for you to re-sit a specific subject for a chance to improve your grade, though this requires a few weeks of hard academic studying.


15. Should my child go to summer school?

In short: yes!

Summer schools can offer your child the opportunity of a lifetime. Blending immersive and interactive classroom sessions with academic excursions and skill-building workshops, a summer course can be the perfect opportunity to help your child to grow and develop.

Share this article


Explore UK summer schools for academic growth, international friendships, and university insights. Oxford Summer Courses offers an authentic summer school experience with expert tutors, immersive programmes, and diverse locations.

Get Our Newsletter

We deliver helpful tips, tutorials and thought-provoking articles to inform and inspire your professional development.

Our privacy policy states Oxford Summer Courses will use this information to contact you.

Oxford Summer Courses LTD

18 Beaumont Street, Oxford, OX1 2NA, United Kingdom

+44 01865 818403

B Corp Logo

Juniors 9-12


Oxford Summer Courses is an organisation which contracts with the colleges of the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London for the use of facilities, but which has no formal connection with the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge and London.
Oxford Summer Courses © 2024
Oxford Summer Courses is a company registered in England and Wales with company number 08011543