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5 Summer Programs in New Mexico for High Schoolers

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Your teen has many options for how to spend his or her time once summer rolls around. Without the constraints of a constant high school class schedule combined with numerous extracurriculars and other commitments, they might choose to pursue a volunteer program, get a summer job, or even take some summer classes. Another great option for teens looking to get a taste for college life is a summer program on a college campus.


While New Mexico might not be the first place that comes to mind when one considers summer activities for high schoolers, there are several strong on-campus programs available for teens who want to explore the options there. To learn more about five of them, keep reading.

How Summer Programs Benefit Teens

Summer programs offer high schoolers a rare taste of life at a university. Whether the program is residential or not, teens will be immersed in campus culture. They will attend classes in university classrooms, use college facilities like labs or libraries, eat in dining halls, and often even meet some current students who attend the college. In addition, teens can make valuable connections with professors who could eventually become their actual college instructors.


Teens who attend a summer program often gain important insights into their future goals for college. They may learn what they do and do not want from their college experience, or learn more about the programs of study they’re drawn to. If your teen is interested in attending a summer program in New Mexico, don’t miss this post.

Five Summer Programs in New Mexico

1. PREP High School Academy

The PREP High School Academy is an intensive two-week residential program in the STEM fields, hosted on the New Mexico State University campus. Participants work on leadership, team-building, and hands-on activities that simulate real-world engineering experiences while gaining self-confidence and connecting with current faculty and students.


    • Affiliate Organization: New Mexico State University
    • Grades: 9th-11th
    • Cost: $0
    • Deadline: 3/31/19


Essay Prompt: Tell the selection committee what world problem you hope to solve as a future engineer and how do you see attending the NM PREP Academy helping you achieve that goal.


2. Summer Science Program: Astrophysics

The Summer Science Program (SSP) is one of the longest running pre-college programs in the country, having been founded in 1959. It provides an immersive experience with hands-on research over the course of its 39-day residential program. It aims to challenge and inspire talented and motivated high school students through four different program offerings, one of which is available at New Mexico Tech.


  • Affiliate Organization: New Mexico Tech
  • Grades: 10th graders who have completed calculus and physics, or 11th graders who have completed calculus or physics.
  • Cost: $7,150, but financial aid is generous and scaled to family income
  • Deadline: March 1 

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3. The University of New Mexico Summer High School Programs

The University of New Mexico offers two exciting STEM programs to high school students each summer:


The UNITE Program offers participants four weeks of pre-college and STEM related hands-on activities in engineering and computer science.


The Energy Summer Academy introduces students to a broad variety of energy-related topics in research through a four-week residential program. Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy, students are engaged through college prep courses, guest speakers, field trips and hands-on workshops.


Those who complete either program successfully are eligible for a $100/week stipend for their participation.


    • Affiliate Organization: University of New Mexico
    • Grades: 9th-11th graders
    • Cost: Free to accepted students
    • Deadline: May 10, 2019


Essay Prompt: Why do you want to attend this program at UNM?


4. Research Learning Experiences Program

The Research Learning Experiences Program provides STEM field internships ranging from five to eight weeks depending on the program. Through grant funding, students participate in actual research, working on important engineering problems under the guidance of undergraduates, graduate students, post docs and/or faculty. Students are paid a stipend or hourly wage for their work and are invited to participate in group meetings, engineering seminars, and outreach events.


    • Affiliate Organization: University of New Mexico
    • Grades: 10th-12th grade, must be at least 16 years old.
    • Cost: Free to accepted students
    • Deadline: March 31, 2019


Essay prompts:

  • Please describe what career path are you interested in. (For example, art, engineering, medicine, music, chemistry, astrophysics, etc.) If engineering, what kinds of engineering are you most interested in?
  • Describe what you hope to gain from this Research Experience and how it might contribute to your future success.
  • The labs offering internships change from year to year. However, 3 programs usually offer internships: Solar Cells; Nanomanufacturing; petroleum engineering . Please rank your interest in these by listing them in order of your interest.


5. Summer Transportation Institute

The Transportation Institute  is sponsored by the U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the New Mexico Department of Transportation and provides a variety of STEM related learning opportunities as they relate to the transportation industry. This three-week residential program offers a combination of college prep courses, guest speakers, field trips and hands-on workshops to students interested in the transportation industry.


    • Affiliate Organization: University of New Mexico
    • Grades: 9th and 10th graders
    • Cost: Contact Katherine Love for more information.
    • Deadline: July 5, 2019 for priority consideration


Essay Prompt: Why do you want to attend this program at UNM?


Summer programs can offer your teen the unique opportunity to gain deep industry experience on a college campus, pursue an area of interest, and learn more about him or herself and his or her goals for the future. In addition, your teen could make important connections that are valuable during the college application process or beyond.  


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Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.