New Way to Beat Tough College Competition: Teens Build Portfolios at iD Teen Academies

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Fierce competition in the college admissions arena calls for teens to supplement their educations in creative new ways. Recently restructured curriculum for iD Teen Academies in Gaming, Programming and Visual Arts provide teens with a valuable pre-college experience that includes new Portfolio Workshops.

learn 3D animation

iD Gaming Academy student learns 3D animation with Maya.

Academy students enter as teens attending a summer camp and leave as young adults with professional skills and a portfolio to show off their work to the world.

The admissions rates for prestigious universities have been inching their way down for years.

Stanford University went from a 9.49% acceptance rate for the class of 2012 down to 7.07% for the class of 2015. Harvard dropped from 7.92% to 6.17% in the same time frame. And MIT has gone from 11.6% to 9.58%. Admissions across the board for prestigious universities are becoming more and more selective – and while a one or two percent drop may not sound huge, it translates into roughly 20,000 more rejections this year for those three schools alone.

How can students avoid joining the ranks of the disappointed? By demonstrating that they have creativity and professionalism – with an online portfolio that highlights their accomplishments.

iD Teen Academies, intensive pre-college programs specializing in video game development, programming and visual arts, help teens (1) complete professional-quality final projects and (2) build portfolios to showcase their work.

Each session of iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy and iD Visual Arts Academy is a two-week, overnight experience held at a prestigious university – among them, the increasingly competitive Stanford, Harvard and MIT. Course subjects range from Maya® 3D modeling to iPhone® app development to filmmaking with professional equipment such as NEX-VG10 camcorders. Students learn from professionals with industry experience. Teen summer camps at iD Gaming Academy and iD Visual Arts Academy also provide students with the chance to visit nearby studios and see how the pros work.

The Academy curriculum was recently restructured to provide students with the all-important portfolio for their college applications. Sessions now include Portfolio Workshops held two nights each week, and all students complete an online portfolio that includes a biography page and their work samples. Senior Academies Manager Somer Lowery says, “It will be something students can easily update and add to as they continue work in the field.”

As the centerpiece for their portfolios, students also create a final project that demonstrates the technical skills they have learned during their session. Past projects include original video games, short films and iPhone apps. Many students have used their Academy projects as springboards for outside ventures, with great success. Andrew Rosenblum, for instance, is among the many iD program alumni with apps in the Apple® store. He attended iD Programming Academy held at MIT and started three iPhone apps as part of his final project while he was there. Now he has six apps selling in the Apple store with 30,000 downloads and counting.

While nothing can guarantee a college acceptance, concrete accomplishments like published apps and an online portfolio certainly help set students apart from their peers. Lowery describes the Academy experience and the Portfolio Workshops as a rite of passage: “Academy students enter as teens attending a summer camp and leave as young adults with professional skills and a portfolio to show off their work to the world.” The online portfolio, as part of a college or job application, will serve students well during their transition from high school into the real world.

iD Tech Camps is the World’s #1 provider of summer computer camps and technology camps for kids and teens with programs held at 60 elite universities in the U.S. Summer camp locations include Stanford, Princeton, Harvard, UCLA and other prestigious universities nationwide. For the past thirteen years, over 120,000 students ages 7-18 have participated in the iD programs. Students create iPhone® apps, 2D and 3D video games, websites with Flash®, C++ and Java programs, 3D models and animations with Maya®, digital photography, films, robots and more. There are also 2-week Teen Academies: iD Gaming Academy, iD Programming Academy and iD Visual Arts Academy. Visit or call 1-888-709-TECH (8324) for more information.


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Karen Thurm Safran
iD Tech Camps
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Audrey Van Norman
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