15 Summer Programs at The University of Illinois for High Schoolers

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This is the home of the Fighting Illini! As the flagship institution of Illinois, the University of Illinois  Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) boasts nationally-ranked programs in engineering, agriculture, and the sciences. With over 1,000 active student organizations and a library collection second only to Harvard’s in size, this public Ivy offers its numerous undergraduates niche communities, incredible research opportunities, and powerful alumni networks.

 

If your student already bleeds orange and blue, we’ve got good news: UIUC offers an incredible selection of summer programs, giving aspiring Illini the chance to experience campus at its finest. In this post, we highlight a few programs that you may want to keep an eye on.

 

But Why Summer Programs?

 

Some parents may think that their child should instead spend the summer working or volunteering, and certainly, these activities can also be valuable experiences. However, summer programs allow students to explore and develop specific academic or extracurricular areas of interest the way a job may not. Most importantly, though, summer programs give participants the opportunity to meet current students and faculty members at the very college that they want to attend! Understanding the campus vibe and forming these connections can be greatly helpful for writing supplemental essays and showing demonstrated interest.

 

Even for students who are undecided, however, a summer program can be incredibly beneficial. Prospective applicants get to live and learn on campus, using facilities available to actual college students and getting an idea of what their next four years might feel like. Summer camps can help students cull down their list of schools and decide where they’ll be sending their early applications.

 

Regardless of your child’s summer plans, keep in mind that admissions officers simply want to see genuine passion and initiative. Enrolling in a summer camp is one way to showcase that sort of intellectual curiosity and dedication, but volunteering for a cause or working a summer job can also be equally impressive. It is quite likely that your child can enjoy the best of both worlds — most programs last only a week or two, giving students plenty of time for any internships, work experiences, or volunteering that they may also want to do over the summer.

 

15 Programs at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

 

1. Illinois Aerospace Institute Summer Camp

 

If your student wants to explore aerospace engineering or aviation, then this is the camp for them! Participants live on campus and work in UIUC’s labs, embarking on supplemental field trips to the Parkland College’s Institute of Aviation and a local remote-controlled airplane field. The program is only a week long and offered twice, making it easy to fit into busy summer schedules. Note that a teacher recommendation and a 500-word statement of purpose essay are required to complete the application.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th

Cost: $1,000

Deadline: March 1, 2019

 

2. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Honeybees and Beekeeping

 

Honeybees are incredibly important, and this camp explores why! Participants will learn all about these fascinating critters, working with a real beekeeper to assemble hives and support the bees as they go about pollinating and surviving the cold winter months. Note that this is a fully residential five-day camp — no commuting allowed.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $315

Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

3. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Veterinary Medicine

 

A residential five-day camp, this is perfect for all the animal-lovers out there! Sponsored by UIUC’s College of Veterinary Medicine, participants will gain an in-depth understanding of what it takes to become a vet, as well as the daily work that vets do. Prepare to get up and close with friendly horses and at least a few species of bacteria…

 

Grades: 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $355

Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

4. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Animal Sciences

 

What if your child loves animals, but isn’t so keen on vet school? Consider this camp instead! Participants will learn about a wide variety of animals, from farm to companion to wildlife, and they’ll get the inside scoop on what real animal scientists do every day.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $350

Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

5. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Aerospace Engineering

 

Rocket propulsion, flight mechanics, and fluid dynamics — this camp caters to students who love aircrafts and spacecrafts, featuring hands-on experiments and design projects over the course of the week. Note that participants must have completed Algebra I in order to sign up.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $440

Deadline: May 1, 2019


6. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Electrical & Computer Engineering

 

This is what UIUC is known for! Sponsored by the College of Engineering, students will work with lasers, make circuits, and troubleshoot experiments in real university laboratories. Topics of study include robotics, biomedical imaging, nanotechnology, optics, and much more.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $465

Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

7. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Molecular and Cellular Biology

 

If your student loves microbiology and cells, then this is the camp for them. Participants will learn about blood typing, PCR, extracting DNA, and inserting genes of interest into populations of bacteria. They will also study the latest discoveries in the field and go on a tour of a research laboratory.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $365

Deadline: May 1, 2019

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8. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Telling Stories About Ag and the Environment – Ag Communications

 

This is a great opportunity for students to explore a fascinating interdisciplinary field: agricultural communications. Participants will learn about gathering data, writing and editing a story, and publishing their works online. They will also learn about the latest technology, such as drones.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $280

Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

9. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Exploring Human Development & Family Studies

 

Calling all future psych majors! Here’s a camp that will teach students about themselves, their families, and their relationships. If your student is ready for some self-exploration, they might consider this. Participants will also get to work with current UIUC students majoring in the department.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $275

Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

10. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Work Hard/Play Hard: Careers in Health Sciences, Sport, and Wellness

 

Students will learn about all the possible ways they can get involved with healthcare, ranging from careers in speech-language pathology to park supervising. (If your child hasn’t thought beyond med school, then this camp will open their eyes!) Participants will learn how to tie tourniquets and administer CPR; they’ll also visit research labs and get to know current UIUC students.


Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th

Cost: $250

Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

11. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | From Wild to Mild: The Role of Animal Scientists in Nutrition and Welfare of Exotic Animals and Pets

 

This is the program for students passionate about their pets! Participants will learn about nutrition and animal welfare, running lab tests on pet foods,  and creating their own wet dog food. They’ll also visit the Lincoln Park Zoo, going behind-the-scenes to learn about animal behavior, diet, and conservation efforts.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th
Cost: $440
Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

12. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Game Design: Digital Art, Storytelling and Fabrication

 

If you think your child should spend less time playing video games, try sending them to this camp to learn the technical side of things. Participants will learn all about game design, creating their own board games and even coding the first few scenes of a functional RPG computer game! Note that a working knowledge of computers is required.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th
Cost: $315
Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

13. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Sustainable Food Systems

 

Does your student have a green thumb? In this camp, participants will learn about organic food production, crop design, and the latest technology used in agriculture, getting their hands dirty through planting seeds and identifying weeds. Sustainable food systems are undoubtedly the way of the future — come learn about them!

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th
Cost: $240
Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

14. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Disaster Preparedness Initiative

 

As global weather systems become more and more volatile, the importance of disaster preparation goes up. If your student is passionate about doomsday bunkers and emergency fallouts, perhaps this is the camp for them! Participants will be CPR and First Aid certified through the course of the week, learning how to build family disaster kits that they can then take home.

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th
Cost: $400
Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

15. 4-H Illini Summer Academies | Agricultural Mechanization: From Horses to Drones

 

GPS treasure hunts and research farms abound in this camp, as participants explore the world of agricultural technology. Working both in the field and in the lab, students will run efficiency tests, make GIS maps, and even analyze data collected by drones!

 

Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th
Cost: $440
Deadline: May 1, 2019

 

Wrapping It Up

 

This was only a sampling of the summer programs available at UIUC. If none of these spark interest, though, don’t be worried — a quick Google search will turn up countless more programs, covering every possible area of academic and extracurricular interest.

 

If deadlines have passed, or your high schooler already has plans for the summer, just remember to bring these up next year. Summer programs aren’t the end-all-be-all; volunteering, jobs, and internships are all great ways to explore career interests and demonstrate initiative while out of school. So long as your child feels meaningfully engaged, they’ll get something out of their summer. If you need more ideas, take a look at our post, Summer Activities to Strengthen Your College Applications.

 

If your child needs help finding and applying to summer programs, consider enrolling in CollegeVine’s Mentorship Program! We pair high school students with undergraduates at top universities, using on near-peer mentoring to help your child refine their interests and establish a strong profile throughout their high school career.

 

Check out some of our other posts about local summer programs:

15 Summer Programs at The University of Chicago for High Schoolers

15 Summer Programs at Northwestern University for High Schoolers

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Lauralyn Lin
SAT Tutor at CollegeVine
Short bio
Lauralyn Lin is a first-year student at Wellesley College who hopes to major in the social sciences. She’s also a SAT tutor and marketing intern at CollegeVine, and spends any time leftover on ballroom dancing, reading, and pictures of her darling cat.