Give Us Some Credit, Please

This summer, some students may work for hours on end with nothing to show for it, except, of course, the benefit of the experience itself. While many schools give credit to students for unpaid summer internships, Phillips Academy is an exception. PA does not grant academic credit for programs not approved by the Academic Council and led by a faculty member, although the school does offer bypass exams for students who take classes over the summer. Part of the reason PA does not give credit is because of the difficulty of determining whether or not an experience is worthy of academic credit. Summer internships are excellent opportunities for students to gain real-world experience, and Phillips Academy’s current policy may limit students’ options. Under the Fair Labor Standards Act, students are required to receive credit from their schools in order to enroll in an unpaid internship program at a for-profit business. The strict federal guidelines for academic internships ensure, among other things, that students will be doing something more meaningful than pouring coffee. As our economy suffers and college applications become more demanding, more students are applying for internships, and many employers are offering unpaid internships for academic credit rather than paid internships. Phillips Academy, nonetheless, does not offer credit, and we should. The school should offer a half-credit for internships that meet defined standards, such as minimum lengths of time and hours per week. The Office of Summer Opportunities and Gap-Year Programs should work with the Dean of Studies Office to set the criteria of an experience that they would find worth academic credit, and have students go through an application process to get their program approved. This year 78 percent of college students plan to complete at least one internship before they graduate, according to, an internship opportunity site. While we may not be college students, we should be able to take advantage of every educational opportunity presented to us. As the popularity of summer programs soars among high school students across the country, whether they be community-service or language-learning programs abroad or a professional internship in their hometown, Phillips Academy should ensure that its students do not miss out on any opportunity. We work hard during the year and during the summer, and that deserves some credit.