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Get an Ivy League Education – on Vacation

Get an Ivy League Education – on Vacation

Uris Library and the John McGraw clock tower at Cornell University (Photo: Matt Hintsa/Flickr)

Being able to say that you studied at Harvard or Cornell just got a whole lot easier. Whoever said summer school was a bad thing obviously didn’t have these higher-education vacation ideas in mind. Several high-caliber (including Ivy League) universities open their doors to the general public for short-term, non-accredited adult courses over the summer. Best of all, perfect SAT scores, brilliant essays, or padded trust funds aren’t required to apply, so go ahead: make your 2014 summer vacation the most brag-worthy of the bunch, with one of these brainy breaks.

For the real deal Ivy League experience, complete with on-campus room and board, make way for Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. Their Cornell’s Adult University (CAU) summer courses highlight 30 weeklong class options, led by the university’s prestigious faculty, in subjects like history (try “America’s Vietnam: How Did It Happen?” with instructor Fredrik Logevall, winner of the 2013 Pulitzer Prize in history), literature, world affairs, and more. Or, brush up on a hobby, with coursework on gardening, birding, French cooking, and golfing. Attend daytime seminars or evening lectures, and use your free time to explore the region’s surrounding viticultural region, the Finger Lakes, with your new school chums. Or, bring the whole family along: CAU additionally offers complementary summer educational programs for kids ages 3 to 16 (with programs like “Birds, Bugs, and Bats” for the wee ones, or cartooning or sailing for the older of the bunch), which allow parents and kids to break for activities and classes, but sync up for meals, free time, and sleep. Four one-week sessions run from July 6 through Aug. 2, 2014, including on-campus lodging and meals (rates from $1,705/adults; from $710/kids).

(See alsoGet Your Nerd on With These Geeky Vacations)

 Harvard University

Memorial Hall at Harvard University (Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

Several other leading U.S. universities offer short-term summer sessions that are open to the general public, though without on-campus housing opportunities (not a problem: area hotels are easy enough to book). The Harvard Division of Continuing Education in Cambridge, Mass., for one, touts a slate of two-day-long Professional Development Programs scheduled throughout the year on the legendary Harvard campus. Designed to polish participants’ resumes (after all, plugging Harvard on the CV tends to really pop!) by keeping them abreast of evolving technology and business practices, the leadership- and management-focused programs are themed on strategy, innovation, communication, finance and accounting, negotiation, and marketing. The noncredit workshops are run by Harvard faculty and adjunct instructors with special expertise in their field. Sign up for 2014 summer programs like the “Art of Persuasion: Communicating with Influence” (July 14-15; August 11-12) or “Digital Marketing: Social Media and Online Strategies” (August 13-14). Programs run through October 2014; tuition and lunch from $2,150/person (for early booking), not including housing.


MIT Dome (Photo: Adam Fagen/Flickr)

Also in Cambridge, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) proposes a series of summer Short Programs, featuring more than 40 courses spanning two to five days in length. The programs are designed to combine MIT’s cutting-edge research into evolving technologies with instruction from leading faculty, as presented through a semi-intensive program of lectures and lab work. Choose from specialized courses on budding technologies, renewable energy, and more, covering topics like “Social Data and Networks” (July 7-8, 2014; $1,800) and “Sustainability: Principles and Practice” (July 28-Aug. 1, 2014; $3,000). MIT Short Programs run from June through August; course rates average $1,600 to $4,500 (tuition only). 

 Stanford University

Main Quad and Hoover Tower at Stanford University (Photo: Wally Gobetz/Flickr)

Or, shoot clear across the country to Stanford University, in Stanford, Calif., where their year-round Continuing Studies program offers a robust schedule of classes, including a selection of weekend and weeklong workshops (note that no on-campus room or board is provided). Brush up on art, business, writing, technology, and more, with summer offerings like “Incubate Your Startup: The Essentials” (July 26-27, 2014; $295), “An Investigation of Neurological Disorders” (July 19-20, 2014; $215), “Women Leaders: Mastering Influence, Authenticity, and Power” (August 2-3, 2014; $355), and more.

(See also: Cheat Sheet San Francisco)


Oxford University Photo: Adam Hopkinson/Flickr)

Perhaps, a transatlantic jaunt is more your scholarly speed. England proposes immersive education vacations at both Oxford and Cambridge universities. Sign up for the popular Oxford Experience, which for more than 20 years has proposed weeklong residential summer courses at England’s celebrated Oxford University (the oldest university in the English-speaking world), touting some 60 programs in archaeology, art, history, and more. While their 2014 summer classes have been booked solid since January, their 2015 lineup will be announced in September, so be ready to pounce soon thereafter for next summer’s enrollment. Course enrollment fees include tuition, accommodation, and dining (including meals in Tudor Hall, recognizable from the Harry Potter films); rates from $2,068/person in 2014.

(See alsoA Fool-Proof Guide to Oxford)


University of Cambridge (Photo: Andrew Wilkinson/Flickr)

Or, try the University of Cambridge's International Summer School, which since 1923 has welcomed students from around the globe to study noncredit courses covering science, history, literature (including Shakespeare, naturally), and more—there are more than 190 offerings in summer 2014 alone, with several one- and two-week class durations primed for shorter-term visitors (weekend courses are also available, year-round). Participants can lodge and dine at one of the historic Cambridge Colleges—that and tuition runs from $1,660/person. 

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