Can a three-week programme at a summer school on a world-renowned university campus change your life? If you ask Lia, an American student at ISSOS International, the answer would be a yes.
“ISSOS not only gave me incredible memories with these people that I will love forever, but it has also become a part of who I am. I am and forever will be changed for the better.” She adds that meeting new people, combined with her experiences at ISSOS at Yale, “is something that truly cannot be put into words.”
ISSOS provides students between the ages of 13 and 18 a balanced, supervised summer programme that immerses them in an English speaking environment. Here, students from all corners of the globe have the chance to combine learning, fun and cultural enrichment in an inspirational, safe and prestigious university campus — either Cambridge, St Andrews or Yale — and discover new things about themselves.
Gady from Lebanon found that he could express himself in ways he never thought he could before. At ISSOS, he mixed with people of different cultures, learned with top teachers and mentors, and made friends for life.
“ISSOS is more than just a summer camp I attended — it’s a place I can call home. I truly believe that anyone could thrive there,” Gady adds.
Just what makes the ISSOS programme so special for Lia, Gady, and the over 5,000 students that have joined since its inception in 2006?
Jen Munro, ISSOS founder and CEO, says: “Our summer school programme has been specifically designed to address today’s challenges so that our students can look forward to tomorrow with confidence. We endeavour to give our students the edge both academically and socially.”
A place where global friendships are made
Part of ISSOS’s appeal to students is its international family atmosphere. Students are allocated to groups of up to 15 with their own group counsellor, and share a room with someone of the same gender and age, but different first language and nationality. This ensures ISSOS participants get to mix and make friends with others from new places. That way, barriers between languages and cultures can be broken down to forge global but lifelong friendships.
Fernanda from Mexico — who enjoyed her first ISSOS summer so much that she returned for another summer — wholeheartedly agrees: “I made friends that I know will last a lifetime and all of that wouldn’t have been possible without ISSOS.”
A motley of social and cultural activities
ISSOS International staff ensure all students are well taken care of by providing support throughout the programme. Source: ISSOS International
While students’ assigned group will serve as their main form of support, they will have opportunities to mingle with others at ISSOS through clans, evening activities and classes.
ISSOS is proud of its Scottish roots. Students at ISSOS will join one of their four student Clans. All the clans compete in friendly competitions and team games to win points towards clinching the ISSOS Clan Cup.
The Highland Games sees the end of the clan competitions and the winning clan will win the ISSOS Clan Cup. On the final night, a piper pipes in the Haggis for dinner; afterwards, students can do traditional Scottish Country Dancing and let their hair down at the disco.
Besides the Clans, ISSOS students participate in a wide array of exciting activities, including 4pms and Sunday Workshops, as well as Evening Programmes. ISSOS understands that students work incredibly hard during the week, so the 4pms are not compulsory.
Despite that, the 4pms are designed to meet the students’ interests and requests — from sports and games to creativity — which is why ISSOS believes all students will enjoy this aspect. Past activities have included circus skills, mobile phone photography, parkour and punting on the River Cam.
The Sunday Workshops — ISSOS’s optional, three-hour long Workshops — allow students to engage in a new hobby such as spray painting, baking, comedy and even songwriting. Students are free to use the rest of their Sunday for their personal time off.
Finally, the Evening Programmes — where Clans collect points towards winning the Clan Cup — are a time of laughter and activity. They range from Counsellor Fashion Show, Variety Show to Dodgeball and even Mini Olympics.
ISSOS’s educational philosophy
Exceptional social and cultural activities aside, what sets ISSOS apart from other summer schools is their belief in an education for the heart and mind.
Not only does ISSOS welcome non-native English speakers, but native speakers can also join, and there are no academic acceptance criteria. This means all students can experience this programme irrespective of their grades.
Students can also pick one academic and one elective to study throughout the programme — taught by professional and experienced teachers.
All academic classes meet for three hours each weekday morning while their academic offerings include Debate, Study Skills and English Language, to name a few. Each campus has their own unique academics, which could include Business and Entrepreneurship, Youth Leadership and Journalism.
Students combine their academic class choice with an elective course — taken on four weekday afternoons — where they can learn about tennis, film, outdoor leadership, art, golf, theatre and photography.
Collectively, ISSOS’s beautiful campuses, interesting activities and incredible learning opportunities — while being part of an international family — have made it an experience of a lifetime for many students worldwide.
The next person to have this life-changing summer experience could be you. For more information, click here.