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6 Summer Programs in Minnesota for High Schoolers

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You probably don’t need to be told that the admissions process is competitive at top schools. Still, there are ways of standing out from the crowd that also double as helpful indicators of the type of college experience you might want. Also known as pre-college programs, summer programs are intensive academic camps where students can expand their skills in a given discipline while adding to their applicant profiles. Enrolling in these camps is a great way to show colleges you’re academically-driven and serious about a career in your chosen major.


At CollegeVine, we’re passionate about finding talented high schoolers the best Minnesota summer programs to help them achieve their goals. Here are six great pre-college programs you may want to consider this summer:


Why Summer Programs Are Beneficial for High Schoolers


A pre-college program provides you with the chance to find positive role models to support you on your college journeys. Along with meeting peers who share your interest, you have the chance to interact with tenured professors and current college students. Additionally, you could possibly tour workplaces and interact with industry professionals, gaining inspiration from their hard work and achievements. And who knows? You may even find a mentor who could guide you on their academic journey and help with your job search after graduation. 


Of course, summer programs aren’t just for students who have already chosen a career path. On the contrary, these programs can help you identify potential fields of study and explore academic subjects that you maybe haven’t considered yet. After all, just because you don’t enjoy your high school algebra class doesn’t mean you aren’t destined for a career in STEM. Summer programs offer a unique opportunity to see what’s available prior to committing to a major.


6 Summer Programs in Minnesota for High Schoolers


1. Summer Speech and Debate Camp


Dates: June 20-July 9

Location: Augsburg University

Application deadline: June 5

Cost: $500


Do you love debate and public speaking? Are you interested in going into politics or government? If so, you would enjoy Augsburg University’s Speech and Debate Camp. This camp allows you to develop, practice, and hone your skills for research, argumentation, advocacy, and debate. Over the course of the program you will learn in a variety of settings including seminars, labs, group discussions, and guest lectures. The camp is offered both on campus and online, and there is financial support available for students on a first-come, first-served basis.


2. Summer Mathematics Institute


Dates: June 26-July 1

Location: Augsburg University

Application deadline: May 15

Cost: $600


Students who are happiest with a graphing calculator in hand — and those who want to learn more about careers in math — should consider Augsburg’s Summer Mathematics Institute. During this week-long residential program, rising sophomores through seniors will explore the Theory of Equations while developing their talent for solving problems likely to appear on the MSHSML, AMC, AIME, and ARML tests. Interested candidates should complete Algebra II prior to applying and be passionate about studying higher-level math.


3. Scrubs Camp


Dates: Various

Location: Various

Application deadline: Various

Cost: $0-$465 (depending on location and specific program)


If you envision a future in a healthcare field, consider enrolling in one of the Scrubs Camps, located at multiple colleges throughout the state of Minnesota. During this summer course, talented high schoolers will have the chance to learn from full-time professors and current college students. Additionally, they’ll be able to tour local healthcare facilities, networking with doctors and dentists. Along with exploring various healthcare careers, the program will offer tips on different educational pathways to success. Program dates, the length of the program, location, and cost all vary depending on which camp you choose, but all offer you a great chance to experience a career in medicine. 


4. Summer Computer Science Institute


Dates: July 10-29

Location: Carleton College

Application deadline: March 7

Cost: $4,300


Aspiring computer scientists, programmers, or engineers may want to consider the Summer Computer Science Institute at Carleton College. During this three-week program, students will develop their skills through a combination of classroom instruction, lab activities, and guided research. Not only will you have the chance to learn from full-time faculty members, but you’ll also be able to interact with current college students in the computer science field. The program concludes with an SCSI Research Symposium in which students share the results of their research with peers. In addition to a rich academic experience, you will live in Carleton dorms and have access to campus facilities to get a true sense of college life.


5. MCAD’s Pre-College Summer Session


Dates: July 7-24

Location: Minneapolis College of Art and Design

Application deadline: April 22

Cost: $3,300


Artistically minded students will be drawn to this program from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. Along with developing your skills in studio art, you will hone their understanding of design principles and practice their critical thinking during this two-week course. As a bonus, participants will have the chance to interact with and learn from professional artists working in a variety of mediums. To apply for the Pre-College Summer Session, submit a one-page essay explaining how the program will help you realize your goals, along with five to 10 digital images of your work. The best samples showcase both the student’s technical aptitude and their conceptual talent. 


6. ThreeSixty Journalism


Dates: Various

Location: University of St. Thomas

Application deadline: March 31

Cost: $500-$950 (some programs offer $590 equity stipends upon completion)


If you are passionate about communicating via the written word, consider the ThreeSixty Journalism program, available at the University of St. Thomas. Applicants can choose to attend one-week, two-week, or three-week programs focused on the art of writing and reporting. Additionally, the program strives to help Minnesota students from diverse backgrounds tell stories specific to their lives and experiences. To apply, submit a reference, a non-fiction writing sample, and your response to the following essay question: Why do you want to participate in the ThreeSixty Journalism summer camp? 


How do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances?


Some summer programs are more competitive than others, requiring letters of recommendation and standardized test scores, while other programs are open to all students within a particular grade level. Consequently, some summer programs are given more weight in college admissions than others.  


The four tiers of extracurricular activities are a good way to understand how colleges value activities outside of the classroom, like summer programs. The most impressive, prestigious, rare, and influential activities are placed in the top two tiers. A good example of a top-tier Minnesota summer program is the super-selective Summer Computer Science Institute. 


Lower-tier extracurricular activities don’t hold the same sway with admissions offices, however, they are often still valuable. Less-selective and esteemed programs still show off your interests to potential colleges while highlighting your desire to pursue your passions. Many field-specific activities also help build the skills you need to ace everything from the essays to interviews you’ll encounter in the college application process. 


Curious how the summer program you participated in affects your odds of college admission? CollegeVine can help! Our free chancing calculator uses a variety of factors including grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of getting into hundreds of colleges and universities while also providing insight into how to improve your profile.

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.