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11 Summer Programs in North Carolina for High Schoolers

What’s Covered:


These days, getting into college is about more than earning high marks or stellar SAT scores. An increasing number of colleges are asking applicants what they’re doing during their summer vacations — and why. Colleges want to know what you’re passionate about, what gets you out of bed in the morning- and what you’ll pursue as an incoming student! If you want to give yourself a competitive edge, consider enrolling in one of North Carolina’s many summer programs for high schoolers. Pre-college programs are a great way to learn new academic subjects (that could become a major!) or help develop your skills in a given field.


Read on to learn about how summer programs can help you succeed, along with tips on how to select the best program for you, given your unique skills and interests.


Why Summer Programs Are Beneficial for High Schoolers


Pre-college programs are an excellent way to spend a summer. They enable students to develop their academic interests alongside other teens with similar talents. These courses cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from Chinese language and culture to chemistry. You can choose to develop your existing skills in a field or to explore a new topic for the first time. They also allow you to engage with new topics without the stress of it being on a college transcript- you can learn without the commitment! 


Along with offering high schoolers the opportunity to excel academically, summer programs enable students to develop socially. When you aren’t in the classroom, you’ll be able to interact with peers from different backgrounds and experiences in a new, stimulating environment. Participating in a summer program can also help you develop your preferences around college life- what size campus are you comfortable with? Where would you like to spend your undergraduate years? What are accommodations like? Etc. That way, you’ll be experienced and prepared to choose the school that best suits you and your unique wants and needs. 


11 Summer Programs in North Carolina for High Schoolers


1. Leader in Training (LIT) 4-H Summer Camp


Date: June 19th-June 24th; June 26th-July 1st; July 3rd-July 8th; July 10th-July 15th; July 24th-July 29th

Location: NC State, Raleigh, North Carolina

Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $400 without online training, $300 if online training is complete


The Leader in Training program is designed to mold 12 high school students into competent, strong leaders in their program and community. Each camp session is available to 6 male and 6 female campers, who are assigned to a staff mentor for the week. They will spend part of the time at camp working on program set-up and behind the scenes details, while also receiving specialized training and participating in team-building activities. Students will need to submit all application materials in order to be considered.


2. Online Immersion Programs for High School Students- Wake Forest University


Date: Multiple 2- and 4-week sessions

Location: Online

Deadline: Rolling based on when you’d like to attend

Cost: $995-$1295


Offered by Wake Forest University, these online courses can include live sessions conducted by industry experts, guest speakers, and mentors- giving engagement and interactivity that would be impossible elsewhere. Current available course include Business, Medicine, Cancer Medicine, Psychology, Sports Medicine, Bioscience, Women’s Medicine, and Finance. Students can learn what it’s like to study with Wake Forest professors and field experts while still in high school, and receive a Certificate of Completion to include with college applications. Particularly if WFU is a dream school- you should definitely check these out!


3. NCSU Design Day Camp


Date: June 21, July 24-30 

Location: NCSU College of Design, Raleigh, NC

Deadline: April 8 (can register later with late fee)

Cost: $1300


This program, offered by the prestigious College of Design, introduces students to design fundamentals and how to create portfolio-level projects in-studio. Before attending the residential camp, students will complete several online modules so they will be prepared to produce one portfolio-level piece during their residential stay at the college. They will also participate in evening activities to deepen their understanding of design as a career, and prepare for college-level design study.


4. NC General Assembly Page Program


Date: Mid April/May-August

Location: Raleigh, NC

Deadline: Until all spots are filled

Cost: $0- you can actually be compensated for your work!


The NC House Page Program allows students a unique opportunity to see firsthand how the government operates. Students are connected with elected officials in North Carolina, observing lawmakers, staff, lobbyist, and constituents working together to move along the legislative process. Pages attend daily sessions for one week in the House Chamber. They are assigned stations to be available to assist House members. They will also assist in committee meetings and as office assistants. 


5. NC Zoo Junior Veterinary Camp


Date: August 6th

Location: NC Zoo, Asheboro, NC

Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $381


Junior Vet Camps are suitable for students entering high school and ninth graders. This camp brings students to the Zoo to explore what it’s like to have a career in veterinary medicine. They will practice basic vet procedures like giving exams, administering CPR, and tying sutures, as well as exploring the specialized skills needed to care for wild and exotic animals. There is also a Senior Vet Camp for older students.


6. NCSU Shelton Challenge Leadership Program


Date: June 12th-17th; June 26th-July 1st; July 10th-July 15th; July 24th-July 29th

Location: Raleigh, NC or Charlotte, NC

Deadline: Rolling, though most programs are now on a waitlist

Cost: $750


The Shelton Leadership programs immerse students in leadership-development opportunities designed to establish a strong foundation for future generations. These value-based programs for 9th-12th graders focus on one of the Shelton Leadership Center’s (SLC) core values each day and builds upon each throughout the week. Students get real-world experience leading others, changing their perspectives on themselves and the world. 


7. iD Tech Camps at UNC Chapel Hill


Date: Varies

Location: Chapel Hill, NC or Online

Deadline: Varies

Cost: Varies, usually from $929


UNC Chapel Hill offers many courses for students of all ages over the summer. Some courses are offered on campus at UNC, while others are primarily online. Course options for those aged 13-17 include: Game Design and Development 101, Unreal Engine 4 Level Design and Gameplay Mechanics, VR Design with Unity and Oculus Quest 2, Intro to Python Coding for Machine Learning, Blockchains and Cryptocurrencies 101, and more!


8. UNC Young Writers’ Camp


Date: July 25th-August 5th

Location: UNCG School of Education, Greensboro, NC

Deadline: Rolling 

Cost: $275-$500


Taught through daily writing workshops, students in the Young Writers’ Camp gain experience with storyboarding, blogging, and movie-making. Campers will be taught by UNCG faculty, graduate students, NC teachers, and local authors. They’ll be introduced to the writing process, strategies of professional writing, and a variety of writing styles. All work is then published on UNCG’s website!


9. Cannon Music Camp


Date: June 25th- July 16th

Location: Appalachian State University, Boone, NC

Deadline: June 22nd

Cost: $2550


The premier comprehensive music camp in the Southeast, Cannon is a three-week jaunt in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It is filled with intense college-prep work in musical theory and performance, where students meet with renowned musicians and professors to build their talent and ability. They participate in daily ensemble rehearsals and music theory classes, as well as direct instruction in weekly, one-hour lessons. Each student participates in a finale performance in Rosen Concert Hall. 


10. The Art of Making Theatre Camp


Date: Week of July 27th

Location: Meredith College, Raleigh, NC

Deadline: Rolling

Cost: $275


In this camp, Meredith College invites 7th, 8th, and 9th grade girls of all backgrounds and experiences to learn theatre from Steven Roten, director of Meredith’s Theatre program. Students develop their own, one-act play, learning various writing techniques, acting pointers, and improvisation ideas.


11. WPU Summer Camps for Rising 9th-12th Graders


Date: July 11th-14th

Location: William Peace University, Raleigh, NC

Deadline: June 15th

Cost: $400 per week


With small class sizes and great faculty, these two WPU summer camps are ideal for a student who would like to learn and have fun while earning early college credit. For 2022, WPU is offering Research in Stream Ecology and Writing Music for the Screen. In Research in Stream Ecology, students will join WPU biology professors in a long-term study of Crabtree Creek. They will gain hands-on experience with ecological research. In the latter camp, students will learn how composers write music for video games, movies, and television. There is no prior experience or knowledge required for either.


How Do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances?


Unique applicants tend to have an advantage in the college admissions process, so choosing a unique summer program is a great way to show that you have exciting interests that you are passionate about. Including these in your application can definitely help keep you memorable to admissions officers!


When it comes to extracurriculars, summer programs can be a great place to start. Many summer programs can rank high in the tiers of extracurricular activities, giving you an edge on students who may not have completed any. Extracurricular activities are broken down into four tiers, with Tier 1 representing those that are the most impressive and unique and Tier 4 representing those that are the most common. In general, you should aim to have at least a few Tier 1 and 2 activities mixed in with Tier 3 and 4 activities. Usually, free and selective programs will be a higher tier, but most are tiers 3-4. They are a great way to stand out in your application- particularly if they are offered by the school you are hoping to attend!


Looking for more summer program opportunities? Check out our post on the best summer programs at Duke University.


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Short Bio
Hi! I’m Cheyenne. I help educational institutions inform stakeholders and the wider public about the offerings available to them.

After graduating with my BA in History, and MA in Teaching, I knew education was my passion. Maverick Educational Copywriting was born out of my desire to make all levels of education accessible to students, families, alumni, and all other potential stakeholders. I believe education is at the heart of a healthy society, and making it understandable is a huge start! When not writing, I am usually spending time with my husband and dog, most likely hiking a new trail!