LSE Summer School – an experience report
Is Summer School worth it? Is it right for you? Can it boost your career or is it just a waste of money? Find out here. See what Summer School did for me and my career. A report about my LSE Summer School experience.
About the London School of Economics
The London School of Economics (LSE) is a public research University situated in the Heart of London. The LSE has about 10,000 students and over 3,300 faculty staff members. It claims that over 150 nationalities are represented among their students, making it a truly international hub. According to Times Higher Education LSE has the highest percentage of International students (70%) in Britain. LSE consistently ranks among the best Universities and Business schools in the world. They for example place second in the World QS Rankings and within the top twenty in THE RANKINGS.
LSE has produced many notable alumni. Among them Pierre Trudeau (former Canadian Prime Minister), Romano Prodi (former Italian Prime Minister), Taro Aso (former Japanese Prime Minister) or Janet Yellen (former Chair of the US Federal Reserve).
The LSE Summer School
Just as many other reputable Universities also the LSE is putting together an offer of different Summer School courses each year. These Summer School courses are open not only to their own students but to everybody that can show sufficient qualification to study at a University (and can afford the fees).
All Summer School courses take three weeks with an exam and/or presentation during the last two days. Depending on the course you might also have a mid term exam that will count for about 20 – 30% of your final grade.
The Summer School is structured in two sessions. It is only possible to do one course per session (as courses often take most of the day). However, if you want to do two courses or stay six week instead of three, you can of course stay for both sessions.
My typical daily schedule looked as follows:
10 AM: Lectures started
12:30 PM: Lunch break
14.30 PM: Seminar: Hands-On case studies in a group of about 15 students
16:30 PM: Meet your group (four to five students) to work on assignments
18:30 PM: Dinner, drinks, socializing
The Summer School course levels
The LSE Summer School offers courses on three different levels:
- 100: Courses starting with a course number of 100-something. Those are entry level courses and are by far the easiest. This is the level I took. I went to Summer School before starting University, but had no problem following my course.
- 200: The courses with a 200-something course number are considerably more advanced. By speaking to students from these courses I felt that the gap between the 100 and 200 courses was immense. I personally got to know a friend from a 200 course, which I consider to be very intelligent. His academic record is outstanding and he meanwhile received both his Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from a World class Business School. Half way through the course he decided not to take the exam at the end of the course. He felt he could have passed it, but he simply did not want to spend his entire time studying.
- 300: I did not meet anyone from a 300 course. The difficulty of a course always is a subjective matter. But considering the feedback I received from the 200 courses I would imagine that the 300 request a real effort in order to pass. Nevertheless, the 300 courses are still considered to be on a Bachelor level.
Quality of the Summer School course
Overall I was very satisfied with the quality and study material of my course. All the lecturers I had were real LSE lecturers and professors. Additionally, LSE invited external speakers from time to time, depending on the topic. The afternoon sessions in smaller groups allowed to discuss specific topics and to receive personal feedback.
FYI: I am not getting paid by LSE for writing this article 😉 But keep in mind: Top ranked Universities will make sure to live up to the expectations you have in them. They will not risk their reputation for a Summer School. Additionally, I know different people that first attended the Summer School and then enrolled for advanced studies at LSE a year later. Summer Schools are a great advertising platform for Universities and they want to make sure to be at their best.
Summer School Exams, Certificate and more
Most of the courses hold a mid-term exam and a final exam. Depending on the course you choose, you might have to hold a presentation or hand in a report instead of doing a mid-term exam. So it also was with my course. In groups of 4 or 5 students we had to hand in and present a Business Plan.
The difficulty of your exam depends on your course level as described above. However, as you can see on my transcript, the majority of students in my course received an A.
You are also free to choose not to take the final exam. Those not taking the final exam will still receive a confirmation of attending the course. 22 students in my course decided to do so. Those are the ones listed as “Att” in the transcript.
Why I attended LSE Summer School and what it did for me
I had different reasons for attending a Summer School. The main reasons being:
- Curiosity: I wanted to know how it is to study at a top tier University.
- Internationality: I wanted to meet people from as many different countries as possible and broaden my international network.
- Grow and improve: I wanted to learn, grow and improve personally and academically.
- Prepare for University: I wanted to have a head start when starting University a couple of months later.
- Boost my CV: With a top tier University on my CV I intended to strengthen my profile.
- Have fun: Enjoy and make new friends.
Were my expectations met?
- Curiosity: Yes, you get a good feeling what studying at a top tier University can be like. Your Summer School experience will not be exactly like actually studying full time at one of the best Universities. But you get a feeling of what it can be like. Additionally, you get to use all the University facilities such as the library, study rooms, etc.
- Internationality: Yes – 100%. I met people from at least 20 different countries (within just three weeks!). With many of them I am still in touch today and you will get to know some of them as well throughout this Blog. I consider most of the people I met at LSE to be very smart and intelligent. They are all determined to make it. Everyone in his/her own area. All of them are currently kick starting and growing their careers. It is highly inspiring to catch up with them.
- Grow and improve: This will depend on you and what you make out of it. You can go out and party the entire three weeks long. If this is your main goal, then do it. Or you can balance your study and party time (which is what I did). You can also study the better part of the entire course (which I would consider a pity – because you will miss the chance to get to know a lot of great people).
The balance worked out well for me. In order to really grow personally three weeks are just too short though. Nevertheless, I figured that the people you meet can help you to grow throughout the upcoming years. So make sure to stay in touch with your valuable network.
- Prepare for University: Probably my expectation that was met the least. Certain concepts that I learned at LSE certainly were taught to me later at University as well and I might have had a very small edge over my peers. But in general you cannot expect that a Summer School course will prepare you for your next term/year. Each Summer School course has its specific content. And the content of the courses at your University can be very different.
- Boost my CV: Somewhat. A Summer School course alone will not strengthen your profile greatly. It by no means can be compared to a degree from a top tier University. But together with other courses, projects, jobs, internships, etc. you can certainly create the image that you want your employers to have from you. See Summer School as one piece of a puzzle.
- Have fun: Yes – again 100%. Because of the people I met and the great time I had I would never want to miss my Summer School experience and I would do it again any time. LSE also makes sure you have a good time. They organize a welcoming Pub crawl, a welcome party, a boat party on the river Themes and a good bye party. I attended all of them and apart from the Pub crawl (was a bit slow) I would recommend them all. Additionally, be sure that you will meet lots of amazing young people. Always when young people come together they will organize additional social activities.
Is it hard to get accepted by LSE Summer School?
Not at all. As long as you can show your High School certificate or that you are currently enrolled at a University you will be accepted.
How was the study workload?
You should be able to get a good grade in a 100 course if you regularly come to class, study two or three nights before the exam and do well on your group assignments. For the group assignments you have to put in a few hours each day.
What’s the typical LSE Summer School student like?
The typical LSE Summer School student is ambitious, intelligent, a fast learner with a work hard play hard attitude. Most of them come from wealthy (sometimes very wealthy!) families and therefore can easily afford the fees. While most of them are currently half way through their undergraduate studies, some recently graduated or are only about to start University.
Did you get laid?
Nope – but if you’re looking for it your chances are good 😉
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Is Summer School right for you?
So is Summer School right for you? This entirely depends on your expectations and what you want to get out from it. I can recommend it if you are looking for similar things than I did. It is certainly even more worth it if your University will accept the credits that the Summer School is rewarding you with. Make sure to check that with your University before hand! It might help you to select the right course, for which your University will accept the credits.
Now that you know what to expect from Summer School, you might want to consider if the high fees are worth it considering what you get in return. This is a personal decision and depends on your budget and, as with every choice we have to make, your opportunity costs (what else you could do).
If you can’t decide what course to choose, make sure to read my interview with Martin. He gave a very good advice on that topic.
Want to tell us about your Summer School experience? Get in touch: email@example.com