Sociologists of elite education have argued that understanding educational inequality requires looking beyond persistent class- or race-based gaps in academic achievement at the ways in which privileged youth and families construct their advantages. Meanwhile, scholars focused on summer learning have argued that understanding educational achievement requires looking into what happens to youth learning during the summer months. This paper brings these two literatures into contact, calling for inquiry into the multifaceted ways in which educational advantage is constructed during summer. As an initial contribution to this line of inquiry, I present findings from an ethnographic case study of a six-week summer enrichment program at an elite US boarding school. Focusing on daily routines and the language through which participants articulated the value of the program, I apply several established notions about “elite” schools and educational advantage to the time-space of summer. I then turn to features of Summer Session that suggest unique affordances of a summer program being unlike school, elite or otherwise. This balance–of a summer experience being advantageous when it is both like and unlike school in particular ways–is one of many possible contributions from bringing the sociology of elite education together more fully with out-of-school time research.
- Educational practices
- elite education
- socio-political conditions
- student and teacher experiences
- summer learning