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15 Summer Programs in Virginia for High Schoolers

What’s Covered:

 

Students and parents often think that “summer camps” are reserved for younger kids and that high schoolers are better off getting a summer job. However, there are numerous summer programs designed specifically for high school students that can give you the opportunity to learn and grow in ways that a traditional part-time job cannot. 

 

Summer programs are a way for high school students to develop their interests and learn more about college and career paths. Plus, participating in a summer program can strengthen a student’s application. By demonstrating interest in a specific subject through multiple avenues, students can reiterate their applications theme, or the overarching story of who they are and who they want to become. We’ve rounded up 15 summer programs in Virginia to help students figure out which program might suit their unique interests and goals.

 

Why Summer Programs Benefit High Schoolers

 

Summer programs for high school students are about more than just having fun (although there’s plenty of that too!). One of the main benefits of summer programs is that they allow students to specialize in an area of interest. These programs often give students an inside look into an industry or academic discipline that they wouldn’t be able to get in a traditional class setting, and expand students’ awareness of opportunities in that field.

 

Many summer programs are held at colleges and universities, which provides an additional bonus of helping students get a feel for life on a college campus. These programs can often inform students of hard-to-find resources, such as specialized learning communities or even scholarships. Not only that, but being on a college campus can inspire students about attending college in general, since they experience the combination of fun social activities with stimulating intellectual endeavors firsthand. 

 

College admissions officers care about students’ extracurricular activities and often consider them not only as part of the admissions process, but also when awarding merit scholarships. They want to see that students pursued their interests outside of the classroom and took advantage of the resources available to them. Summer programs can help them do just that. As a bonus, those that are selective and all-expenses-paid can be an impressive addition to a student’s resume. Furthermore, these experiences can be valuable material for a memorable admission essay.

 

That said, other types of summer activities, such as volunteering, interning, or part-time work, can also inspire a strong admissions essay. Rest assured, you don’t have to choose between these activities and a summer program: many summer programs span just a couple weeks, so students can balance these other obligations while still pursuing their interests. By diversifying their activities, students will be able to craft essays that draw upon a wealth of extracurricular experiences when it comes time to apply.

 

Perhaps the greatest advantage of attending a summer program at a college, however, is the chance to connect with current students and faculty. One of our top recommendations for helping students get into their dream school is to connect with students who were successfully admitted to that school, and summer programs can facilitate that process for high school students. By attending any of these college-based programs, high school students can get to know current students and can get the inside scoop about campus life and the college community. 

 

Summer Programs in Virginia

 

Note: These program costs are all approximate. There may be differences in cost based on whether a student stays on-campus or decides to commute, is a Virginia resident or not, or if there are scholarships available.

 

1. Experiment and Explore: Summer Science Camp

 

Affiliate College: Hollins University

 

This one-week hands-on camp is perfect for the budding scientist! Students will work closely with two science faculty members as they explore biology, chemistry, and environmental science. They also get to hear from guests daily and work in labs to deepen their scientific understanding.

 

  • Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, & 12th
  • Cost: For commuter campers, $500; for residential campers, $1,050.
  • Deadline: June 1, 2022
  • Additional requirements: Girls only

 

2. Hollins Theatre: Caught in the Act

 

Affiliate College: Hollins University

 

If your student has a knack for storytelling and performance, then this one-week camp is for them. Students will learn basic theatre and vocal performance skills, write their own scripts, practice improvisation, and perform in a showcase at the end of the week. They also have the opportunity to hear from guest speakers and visit graduate classes.

 

  • Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th, & 12th
  • Cost: For commuter campers, $500; for residential campers, $1,050
  • Deadline: June 1, 2022
  • Additional requirements: Girls only

 

3. UVA Advance | COMM 2559: Business Communication

 

Affiliate College: University of Virginia

 

The UVA Advance program is a four-week program for high-achieving high school students looking to experience college firsthand. Students choose from one of four core course offerings, and the Business Communications course is perfect for students interested in entrepreneurship or working in the private sector. They’ll learn about the skills needed to persuade and hear about important trends in business, such as globalization.

 

  • Grades: 10th & 11th only
  • Cost: $6,179 (Non-Virginia resident: $12,995)
  • Deadline: Rolling
  • Application prompt: In 350 words, please respond to ONE of the following prompts:
    • If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
    • What are you most proud of and why?

 

4. UVA Advance | EVSC 2050: Introduction to Oceanography

 

Affiliate College: University of Virginia

 

Another of the core courses in the UVA Advance program, students will have the opportunity to learn about the world’s oceans and major marine environments. This course blends both science and politics as students learn about marine biology and marine policy, as well as the relationship between the two.

 

  • Grades: 10th & 11th only
  • Cost: $6,179 (Non-Virginia resident: $12,995)
  • Deadline: Rolling
  • Application prompt: In 350 words, please respond to ONE of the following prompts:
    • If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
    • What are you most proud of and why?

 

5. UVA Advance | AAS 2760: Empowered Women of Africa

 

Affiliate College: University of Virginia

 

This philosophically-driven course is ideal for students interested in gender studies, politics, and civic engagement. Students will learn from an esteemed faculty member about the stories of empowered women from Africa. Students will analyze texts, films, short stories, and interactions with African women to explore how these women navigate gender constraints and violence to inspire change in their communities.

 

  • Grades: 10th & 11th only
  • Cost: $6,179 (Non-Virginia resident: $12,995)
  • Deadline: Rolling
  • Application prompt: In 350 words, please respond to ONE of the following prompts:
    • If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
    • What are you most proud of and why?

 

6. UVA Advance | HIST 2559: Genocide

 

Affiliate College: University of Virginia

 

Students who are interested in history should definitely check out this course. Under the guidance of an esteemed faculty member, students will utilize both historical and theoretical perspectives to study genocide.

 

  • Grades: 10th & 11th only
  • Cost: $6,179 (Non-Virginia resident: $12,995)
  • Deadline: Rolling
  • Application prompt: In 350 words, please respond to ONE of the following prompts:
    • If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be and why?
    • What are you most proud of and why?

 

7. Summer Language Institute

 

Affiliate College: University of Virginia

 

If you’re interested in learning a new language, this program is perfect for you. The Summer Language Institute offers 8-week courses in the following languages: Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Latin, Russian, and Spanish. As a high school student, you won’t be able to live on campus, but you’ll still be able to attend classes to develop your listening, speaking, reading, and writing skills.

 

  • Grades: 10th, 11th & 12th
  • Cost: $5,076 (Non-Virginia resident: $18,624)
  • Deadline: Rolling

 

8. Pre-College Summer Intensive: School of the Arts

 

Affiliate College: Virginia Commonwealth University

 

Students have the option to explore the performing or fine arts in this intensive three-week program. Designed to help students prepare for college auditions or portfolio reviews, students take courses, have designated studio time, and learn about general college admissions in the evening, combined with social activities such as dance parties and trips to local museums.

 

  • Grades: 10th, & 11th only
  • Cost: $2,100
  • Deadline: Rolling

 

9. Pre-College Summer Program in Early American History

 

Affiliate College: William & Mary

 

Students have the opportunity to earn college credit from this four-week academic course at William and Mary. They won’t just sit in a classroom all day; students will explore local museums, battlefields and archeological sites, and historic homes and even participate in an archeological dig, all while experiencing college life firsthand.

 

  • Grades: 10th, 11th & 12th
  • Cost: $4,700
  • Deadline: June 10, 2022
  • Application prompt: Submit an essay that you enjoyed writing for one of your high school classes, an essay that shows your writing ability, or an essay that one of your teachers really liked.

 

10. iD Tech

 

Affiliate Colleges: William & Mary, University of Richmond, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech-Falls Church

 

iD Tech offers a variety of week-long technology-based programs for the inventive STEM students. Students can choose from one of four colleges in Virginia, and can learn skills like basic coding, game design, and robotics and explore topics like cybersecurity, AI, and machine learning. 

 

  • Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th
  • Cost: Varies 
  • Deadline: rolling

 

11. Mathematics and Technology for Talented Youth

 

Affiliate College: George Mason University

 

Starting in 2019, this program has gone digital. To make the program more accessible, students all over the world can take an individually-paced course to enhance their skills in technology and math. Subjects include Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and AP Calculus AB.

 

  • Grades: 9th, 10th, 11th & 12th
  • Cost: $0
  • Deadline: rolling

 

12. Summer Honors Institute

 

Affiliate College: James Madison University

 

During this one-week college experience, students will be introduced to the Honors College at James Madison University. In the mornings, they will meet in an interdisciplinary class and then take classes in majors such as Mathematics, History, Astronomy, Political Science, Finance, Biotechnology, English, Computer Science, or Marketing. In the afternoons and evenings, students will go on field trips to the Appalachian trail and historic sites. 

 

  • Grades: 10th & 11th Only
  • Cost: $1,000
  • Deadline: May 13, 2022
  • Essay prompts: Select ONE of the following essay prompts and respond in your own words. The essay should be no longer than 250 words.
    • 1. Think of the most interesting book you have read in the past year. Use persuasive and analytical skills to describe the book AND explain why a peer should read it. Write as if you are speaking directly to your peer. 
    • 2. What current event or issue are you most interested in or passionate about, and why? How has that current event/issue influenced your academic interests?

 

How do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances?

 

Summer programs can provide a good boost to the extracurricular portion of your application. Extracurriculars can be broken down into 4 tiers, with Tier 1 being the most rare and impressive activities and Tier 4 being the most common activities. 

 

Free and selective summer programs may be a higher tier, but most summer programs, depending on their prestige, are Tiers 3–4. While you should be aiming to have a few Tier 1 and 2 activities, you should also have some Tier 3 and 4 activities to round out your application.

 

If you’re interested in seeing how your extracurriculars affect your admissions chances, check out CollegeVine’s free Admissions Calculator. This tool will take into account your extracurriculars, GPA, test scores and more to determine your unique chances at your dream schools!


Short Bio
Nisha Desai is a second year student at the University of California, Riverside. She recently started working at CollegeVine, but has done application guidance and tutoring in a private capacity for a couple of years. She is in school to eventually get her Masters in Education and enjoys reading and running in her free time.