3 Summer Programs for High School Students

Hanging out by the water and spending time with friends—as the high school year comes to a close, summertime fun is all that’s on most students’ minds. Summer is a great time to relax and refresh for the next school year. It’s also an excellent opportunity, however, for high school students to advance their learning. With more and more colleges paying attention to how high school students spend their summers, it can benefit students to dedicate at least a portion of these months to hitting the books.

Studying at home can be challenging during the summer. Luckily, many learning programs exist for high school students who want to advance their knowledge during the summer months. These programs include pre-college immersion programs, specialized summer immersion programs, and study abroad opportunities. Aside from preparing students for their high school curricula, programs such as these look great on college applications.

If you’re a high school student looking to get ahead this summer, here are three high school summer programs to enrich your learning:

Summer program #1: Pre-college immersion

A summer pre-college program gives high school students the opportunity to take a college-level course or courses. These programs, which can last up to several weeks, provide high school students with a taste of the college experience, including what it feels like to take all or a portion of a college-level class. Students can participate in these programs at both local colleges and colleges away from home. Students who go away to a school often live on campus for the duration of the program.  

High school students planning to take college-level Advanced Placement (AP) or International Baccalaureate (IB) courses can especially benefit from these immersion programs, because AP and IB courses are on the same level as college courses. High school students entering their senior year can similarly use these programs to prepare for higher-level courses and their associated workload.

Some of the institutions hosting summer pre-college programs that offer a wide variety of academic options include: Emory University, the University of Michigan and Carnegie Mellon University. Some pre-college programs also offer college credit or reduced tuition for in-state students.

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Summer program #2: specialized immersion

Several specialized summer-long academic programs are available for high school students as well. This includes Mathcamp, a five-week summer immersion program for high school students who are gifted in math. Students who participate can take college courses in math at the undergraduate, and even graduate, level. Students also get the opportunity to study with internationally renowned mathematics researchers, and to make friends with and learn from students from all over the world. The camp is held at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden, Colorado.

Other specialized summer programs available to high school students include Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program, which is focused on teaching young women how to build code and software, and LaunchX, for students interested in learning about entrepreneurship.

Research what programs may be available that focus on your particular talents and interests. Don’t be afraid to look into options that aren’t local, as many offer lodging and scholarship opportunities.

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Summer program #3: study abroad

The Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE) is the U.S.’s oldest and largest nonprofit study abroad and intercultural exchange organization. It invites high school students interested in expanding their academic knowledge to do so while traveling overseas.

CIEE offers several kinds of programs for students to take advantage of, including:

  • CIEE’s language and culture program immerses students in an education on the language, culture, and history related to a certain place.

  • CIEE’s leadership and service program gives students a more hands-on opportunity to gain knowledge about global issues, such as the environment and children’s rights, while giving back.

  • CIEE’s global discovery program gives students a chance to study a specialized field of their choice, such as marine science or filmmaking.

The major benefit to studying abroad is getting out of your comfort zone. In another country, most likely you’ll be challenged to cope with another language, new foods, and a culture different than your own. This can make the learning process more challenging, but also more rewarding and memorable. You’re also likely to meet new friends from all over the world.

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When searching for summer programs, identify your interests and explore all of the options available to you. There are many ways that you can take your skillset and participate in a summer learning program that will simultaneously enhance your college admissions resume and expand your knowledge.

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