18 Summer Programs in Iowa for High Schoolers

It’s the time of year to start planning your summer! If you have a few weeks to spare and want to try something new, consider applying to one of these Iowa-based summer programs for high school students.

 

Why Summer Programs Benefit High Schoolers

 

You have worked all year to earn good grades and make the most out of high school. With summer around the corner, it can be tempting to kick back. While some rest is probably overdue, so is some exploring. Here are three reasons we think dedicating a few weeks to a program will give you the summer of your dreams.

 

Learn in a new setting. So much schooling takes place indoors. In Grades K-12, it seems as though someone is getting you to quiet down and listen up. While traditional classrooms offer immense learning opportunities, summer programs expose you to labs, forests, cities, and seminars, each of which teach lessons you never would learn in homeroom.

 

Demonstrate initiative. Participating in a multi-week experience shows you are dedicated to pursuing your interests. Summer programs lay the groundwork for later pursuits in your field of interest. (Note that a summer program should not serve as the capstone of your extracurricular profile, since it is something you join rather than create or augment.)

 

Spark new passions. So often when we talk to high schoolers, we hear that they don’t know what they want to pursue. A lot of topics and careers sound interesting, but it can be hard to choose a favorite among many good options. Summer programs let you dip deeply into a field of interest. Often, that’s exactly the kind of sneak peek that kickstarts a lifelong love of one’s future hobby, major, or career.

 

Summer Programs in Iowa

 

1. One Course Summer Institute | Books That Come to Life

 

Spend 18 days diving deep into literature you will love. Students get to practice the craft of writing, design their own book covers, and operate a hand press to publish their finished creations.

 

  • Affiliation: Cornell College
  • Grades: 10th and 11th
  • Program Cost: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: None listed

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Write a 250-word response to the following essay prompt: Why do you want to complete this course?

 

 

2. One Course Summer Institute | 17 Days Later: Zombies, Brains, and Basic Neuroscience

 

Have you ever wanted to dive into the science of the zombie brain? Luckily, Psychology Professor Steven Neese has created a rigorous exploration, complete with a sheep brain dissection, memory measurement in zombie worms, and a critical study of Hollywood’s representation of zombies.

 

  • Affiliation: Cornell College
  • Grades: 10th and 11th
  • Program Cost: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: None listed

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Write a 250-word response to the following essay prompt: Why do you want to complete this course?

 

 

3. One Course Summer Institute | Peak Performance: Applied Sport & Performance Psychology

 

Two kinesiology professors are teaming up to show you how to perform as well as you can, be that in sports, art, school, or your career. The class includes a range of practical exercises designed to help you set goals, build communication skills, and manage anxiety.

 

  • Affiliation: Cornell College
  • Grades: 10th and 11th
  • Program Cost: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: None listed

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Write a 250-word response to the following essay prompt: Why do you want to complete this course?

 

 

4. One Course Summer Institute | DNA: It’s in Your Genes

 

Do you find genes fascinating? If so, this lab-centered course will expose you to all kinds of intriguing ways to study your DNA. From solving crimes to cloning animals, no topic is off limits as you gain appreciation for your molecular instruction manual.

 

  • Affiliation: Cornell College
  • Grades: 10th and 11th
  • Program Cost: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: None listed

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Write a 250-word response to the following essay prompt: Why do you want to complete this course?

 

 

5. One Course Summer Institute | Costume Creation: Design and Construction for the Stage

 

From page to stage, costume designers bring life to the director’s vision when crafting a show’s aesthetic. Students will learn sewing skills, character analysis, makeup and hair design. The program culminates with a showcase in which students display their own costume and makeup designs. Basic sewing skills are preferred but not required.

 

  • Affiliation: Cornell College
  • Grades: 10th and 11th
  • Program Cost: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: None listed

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Write a 250-word response to the following essay prompt: Why do you want to complete this course?

 

 

6. One Course Summer Institute | Engineering Product Design

 

Did someone say 3D modeling? If you want to learn how Google, NASA, and John Deere design their products, consider applying for “Engineering Product Design.” Students learn how to collaborate, brainstorm, and design a product from scratch. Basic math skills are encouraged. No engineering experience is required.

 

  • Affiliation: Cornell College
  • Grades: 10th and 11th
  • Program Cost: $3,000
  • Application Deadline: None listed

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Write a 250-word response to the following essay prompt: Why do you want to complete this course?

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7. Explorations

 

Get a taste of what college has in store during this one-week residential program. Students will be exposed to the hands-on, interactive learning environments that characterize a liberal arts education.

 

  • Affiliation: Iowa State University
  • Grades: 8th, 9th, and 10th
  • Program Cost: $1,500
  • Application Deadline: April 15th

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. The application opens on March 4th.

 

 

8. George Washington Carver Internship Program

 

If you think a career in research may be right for you, check out the George Washington Carver Internship Program. Students have the rare opportunity to work closely with a faculty member as they brainstorm and prepare their own 8-week research project.

 

  • Affiliation: Iowa State University
  • Grades: 10th, 11th, and 12th
  • Program Cost: $0
  • Application Deadline: March 1st

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Include an official transcript as well as two letters of recommendation. In 300 words or fewer, respond to the following questions:

 

  1. What challenges do you feel diversity students face in higher education?
  2. How have you advocated for diversity in the past, and how will you advance diversity in the future?

 

Also, in 600 words or fewer, state your purpose in applying to the George Washington Carver summer internship program. Include specific research interests you would like to work in, your approach to research, and your goals as a professional. Indicate any experience, coursework, skills, or obstacles you have overcome.

 

 

9. Summer Writing Residency

 

Spend three weeks strengthening your writing at the Belin-Blank Center. This residency program concludes with an art and reading showcase for which students prepare through workshops, tours, lectures, and events with the University of Iowa’s world-class faculty. Priority will be given to students who have participated in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $4,025
  • Application Deadline: March 1st

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. Respond to both of the following prompts in 750 words or fewer each:

 

  1. Tell us about your work. What inspires you?
  2. Recognizing that we will receive many high level writing applicants, what makes you uniquely and exceptionally qualified to participate in this program? On a personal, intrinsic level, what do you hope to gain from this summer residency?

 

 

10. Perry Research Scholars Institute

 

Gifted and talented students are encouraged to apply for this two-week residential program, in which students will encounter all sorts of research professionals engaged in fields ranging from medicine to sustainability.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th and 10th
  • Program Cost: $1000
  • Application Deadline: March 22nd

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. In 250-500 words, respond to the following essay prompt: Write about your interest in attending PRSI.

 

 

11. Summer Art Residency

 

Immerse yourself in art-making by joining the Belin-Blank Center for three weeks of their Summer Art Residency. Students collaborate in workshops, classes, and events outside the classroom to create art that is original and supported by strong technique.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $4,025
  • Application Deadline: March 1st

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. In 750 words or fewer, respond to the following essay prompt: Tell us about your work. What inspires you?

 

 

12. Iowa Summer Music Camps | Percussion Immersion

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $595
  • Application Deadline: May 13th

 

Spend six days honing your music skills as part of the 66th annual Iowa Summer Music Camps. You will receive training and gain experience beyond anything offered at your high school. Percussion students study under internationally recognized performers, such as Dan Moore, Mat Britain, and Ginny Armstrong.

 

Ready to Apply? Register online today!

 

 

13. Iowa Summer Music Camps | Jazz

 

Spend six days honing your music skills as part of the 66th annual Iowa Summer Music Camps. You will receive training and gain experience beyond anything offered at your high school. The Jazz program places a special focus on theory, improvisation, and the art of listening.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $595
  • Application Deadline: May 13th

 

Ready to Apply? Register online today!

 

 

14. Iowa Summer Music Camps | Clarinet

 

Spend six days honing your music skills as part of the 66th annual Iowa Summer Music Camps. You will receive training and gain experience beyond anything offered at your high school. Clarinet students will have intensive but fun practice sessions with Professor Jorge Montilla Moreno, advancing their technique regardless of skill upon entry.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $595
  • Application Deadline: May 13th

 

Ready to Apply? Register online today!

 

 

15. Iowa Summer Music Camps | Piano

 

Spend six days honing your music skills as part of the 66th annual Iowa Summer Music Camps. You will receive training and gain experience beyond anything offered at your high school. Piano students will be required to practice at least two hours per day and to bring 2-3 pieces, at least one of which they should have memorized already.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $595
  • Application Deadline: May 13th

 

Ready to Apply? Register online today!

 

 

16. Iowa Summer Music Camps | Viola

 

Spend six days honing your music skills as part of the 66th annual Iowa Summer Music Camps. You will receive training and gain experience beyond anything offered at your high school. Professor Christine Rutledge leads the viola program for high school students at UI, offering master classes as well as individual and group lessons.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $595
  • Application Deadline: May 13th

 

Ready to Apply? Register online today!

 

 

17. Iowa Young Writers’ Studio

 

Give yourself the freedom to explore your imagination in one of the University of Iowa’s two residential programs, June 16-29 and July 7-20. Whether you’re setting first words to paper or polishing a completed manuscript, the workshops and peaceful writing environment will give you the opportunity to find your voice.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $2,400
  • Application Deadline: February 8

 

Ready to Apply? You can find the full application online. In 1-2 pages, explain why you want to participate in the Studio and what you hope to accomplish there.

 

 

18. Summer Journalism Workshops

 

Every year, some of the best high school journalists from around the country gather to participate in this summer of fun-filled learning. Students test out industry skills and collaborate to write inspiring articles of professional quality.

 

  • Affiliation: University of Iowa
  • Grades: 9th, 10th, and 11th
  • Program Cost: $570
  • Application Deadline: June 1

 

Ready to Apply? Register online today!

 

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Veronica Wickline
Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Veronica is an alumna of Harvard College, where she earned her A.B. in History and Classics. After graduating, she joined CollegeVine serving as the Curriculum Development Manager. She currently lives in Cambridge, MA and is writing her debut novel.