11 Summer Programs in North Carolina for High Schoolers

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These days, getting into college isn’t just about earning high marks or stellar SAT scores. On the contrary, an increasing number of colleges are asking applicants what they’re doing during their summer vacations — and while babysitting or waiting tables can demonstrate a level of maturity and responsibility, these activities aren’t always enough to impress. If you want to give your teen a competitive edge, consider encouraging them to enroll in one of North Carolina’s many summer programs for high schoolers. Pre-college programs are a great way to expose your teen to new academic subjects or help them develop their skills in a given field.


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

Why Summer Programs Are Beneficial for High Schoolers

Summer programs are an excellent way to spend a summer as they enable students to develop their academic interests alongside other teens with similar talents. Also known as pre-college programs, these courses cover a wide variety of topics, ranging from Chinese language and culture to chemistry. Your teen can choose to develop their existing skills in a field or to explore a new topic for the first time.


Along with offering high schoolers the opportunity to excel academically, summer programs enable students to develop socially. When students aren’t in the classroom, they’ll be able to interact with peers from different backgrounds and experiences in a new, stimulating environment. Consequently, participating in a summer program can help your student develop their preferences around campus location, size and other key traits, while also providing them with a greater appreciation for other cultures and communities.

11 Summer Programs in North Carolina for High Schoolers


Note: All cost estimates are based on information available on the respective program websites. Costs will vary depending on whether students participate as residential or commuter students.


1. “Ni-Hao” Wolfpack: Chinese Language and Culture Camp

With more than a billion native speakers, Chinese is an important language in business and other industries. Offered by North Carolina State College, this Chinese language immersion program offers teens a headstart on learning Chinese and interacting with others who share their interest. During the five-day program, students will be immersed in Chinese language and culture. Additionally, they’ll have the chance to explore traditional pastimes like Chinese calligraphy, brush painting, and paper-cutting.


  • Affiliate Organization: NC State
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, & 11th
  • Cost: $300
  • Deadline: Not yet available


2. Communication Summer Camp

If your teen is passionate about a career in Television, North Carolina State College’s Communication Summer Camp just might be a fit. A week-long program, this course introduces students to the world of broadcasting. Covered topics include television production, presentational speaking, and writing for TV. As a bonus, courses are taught by Department of Communication faculty with real industry experience.


  • Affiliate Organization: NC State
  • Grades: 10th & 11th
  • Cost: $400
  • Deadline: Rolling


3. Design Camp

Whether your high schooler is set on pursuing a career in landscape architecture or graphic design, the North Carolina State College’s Design Camp can help them achieve their goals. During this five-day course, students will take part in different studio rotations as well as activities outside of the classroom. They’ll also gain valuable tips to help them apply to design programs at top colleges.


  • Affiliate Organization: NC State
  • Grades: 10th & 11th
  • Cost: $1,200
  • Deadline: 4/29/19


4. FLAMES (Future Leaders in Algorithms, Mathematics, and Engineering Sciences)

As the name indicates, the FLAMES program is designed to help future math and science majors achieve their goals in STEM. A one-week program out of North Carolina State College, this course encourages students to work in teams to solve challenges related to computer science and entrepreneurship. To apply, write a brief essay sharing a goal you want to achieve at camp and a second short essay discussing something you learned that fills you with excitement.


  • Affiliate Organization: NC State
  • Grades: 9th & 10th
  • Cost: $425
  • Deadline: 4/5/19


5. Horticultural Science Summer Institute

Is your teen happiest out in the garden? A week-long program at North Carolina State College, the Horticultural Science Summer Institute exposes young people to different career paths within the horticulture industry. Working alongside university faculty, teens will learn about vegetable breeding, sustainable production, and more. To apply, write an essay explaining why you want to the attend the Horticultural Science Summer Institute.


  • Affiliate Organization: NC State
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, & 11th
  • Cost: $600
  • Deadline: 4/15/19 

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6. NC State Livestock Science Camp

A one-week program at North Carolina State College, this course explores topics related to the agricultural industry. Along with performing lab experiments, teens will have the chance to learn about meat quality assurance while touring farms and meat processing facilities. The course is hands on and includes opportunities to develop leadership skills.


  • Affiliate Organization: NC State
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, & 11th
  • Cost: $800
  • Deadline: 3/15/19


7. Research Apprenticeship Program (RAP) for High School Students

For teens with more time on their hands, the four-week Research Apprenticeship Program at North Carolina A&T University is a great way to gain a competitive advantage. Working with CAES research scientists, students will explore topics such as animal sciences, biological engineering, and biotechnology. Learning opportunities occur both in the laboratory and the classroom, and students have the chance to work in teams.


  • Affiliate Organization: North Carolina A&T State University
  • Grades: 10th & 11th
  • Cost: Free
  • Deadline: 2/28/19


8. Summer Ventures in Science and Mathematics

Teens with a passion for math and science could benefit from this four-week program out of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. During the course, students can choose to focus on a range of STEM fields, including biology, health sciences, chemistry, and environmental sciences. To apply, write an essay explaining how a work experience or extracurricular activity influenced you and why.


  • Affiliate Organization: North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
  • Grades: 10th & 11th
  • Cost: Free
  • Deadline: 1/15/19


9. Project Uplift

Want your teen to get a feel for college life prior to moving into the dorms? A three-day program  at the University of North Carolina, Project Uplift exposes teens to the academic, extracurricular, and social elements of college life. The program, which is open to high school juniors, aims to increase higher education access for students who are traditionally underrepresented on college campuses.


  • Affiliate Organization: University of North Carolina
  • Grades: 11th
  • Cost: $35
  • Deadline: 2/15/19


10. North Carolina Renaissance (NCR)

Students in rural areas often have fewer opportunities to get a feel for college life. A four-day program offered by the University of North Carolina, NCR invites talented juniors from less populated regions to step into the world of higher education. Along with exploring academics and developing leadership skills, students will have the chance to tour dorms, dining halls, and rec facilities. As a bonus, participants will learn test-taking strategies to help them excel on the ACT and SAT.


  • Affiliate Organization:  University of North Carolina
  • Grades: 10th
  • Cost: $25
  • Deadline: 2/15/19


11. RKS Scholars

Does your teen have a talent for arguing? If so, they might benefit from the RKS Scholars program at Wake Forest University. This six-week course allows verbally advanced students to practice their arguments and rebuttals through drills and mini debates. The focus is on practicing what you learn so it stays with you during the months and years to come.


  • Affiliate Organization: Wake Forest University
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th
  • Cost: $5,990


Looking for more summer program opportunities for your teen? Check out our post on the best pre-college programs in South Carolina.


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Short Bio
A graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC, April Maguire taught freshman composition while earning her degree. Over the years, she has worked as a writer, editor, tutor, and content manager. Currently, she operates a freelance writing business and lives in Los Angeles with her husband and their three rowdy cats.

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