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15 Summer Programs for High School Students in NYC

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Summer is a time to relax, yes, but for future college students, it’s also a time to explore your passions, build your skills, and gain experience. If you live in New York City, opportunities abound for high schoolers. From the arts to STEM, there’s a wide range of niches to explore.


Here are 15 free (and in some cases paid) summer programs for high school students to check out.


15 Summer Programs in New York


1. All Star Code


The Summer Intensive is a six-week coding program that helps boys and young men of color build technical and soft skills that are essential for web development. Participants also have the opportunity to network. This program is open to high school sophomores and juniors who identify as male.


2. Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE)


A 7-week program from the NYU Tandon School of Engineering, ARISE is open to students in grades 10 and 11 who are from underrepresented communities in STEM. Participants engage in college-level workshops, lab research, and more across fields like civil and urban engineering, mechanical and electrical engineering, robotics, and other areas. Students are mentored by graduate or postdoctoral students and receive stipends for completion.


3. Apollo Theater Academy Summer Internship Program


Interested in the production side of theater? The Apollo Theater Academy Summer Internship Program gives students experience in technical theater and digital production. Interns work with members of Apollo’s production crew, where they learn about lighting design, videography, audio engineering, set design, and production design. The internship is open to rising seniors, who will receive payment for participation.


4. Baruch College STEP Academy


Funded by the New York Education Department, the Science and Technology Entry Program (STEP) is open to middle and high school students who want to pursue careers in STEM fields. Students participate in workshops, STEM enrichment courses, and college preparatory workshops.


5. Business Leadership Academy


Business Leadership Academy, a week-long business-focused program, is hosted by Mercy College. Rising high school seniors get a taste of business careers from professors who have worked at some of the top companies in the world. Participants will have the opportunity to visit Fortune 500 Companies, explore careers, and take part in team building exercises, such as a Shark Tank-themed activity.


NB: There is a $300 fee to cover the cost of food and activities. Tuition and board are free.


6. College Focus Summer Program


Established nine years ago, this program now takes place on four CUNY campuses in the city: Hostos Community College, Kingsborough Community College, LaGuardia Community College, and Queensborough Community College. College Focus helps prepare students for college and receive credit along the way,


7. College Now


College Now allows New York City public high school students who are rising juniors or seniors to take real college-credit courses online or at campuses like Baruch College and the Borough of Manhattan Community College. From Business to Black and Latino Studies to Sociology, there are many course options across a range of niches.


8. High School Academy: Aspire


NYUSPS Aspire is a scholarship program that includes college prep, mentoring, courses, and workshops. The summer intensive is open to first-generation rising juniors from underrepresented communities and kicks off a two-year program that prepares students for college.


9. High School Digit(al) Revolution


The American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) offers a wide range of opportunities for students to get involved in the museum community. All programs are free, and internships are paid. Students will get to experience many aspects of the world through hands-on science courses and research opportunities.


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10. HK Maker Lab @ Columbia University


Learn all about engineering design through this program from Columbia University School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. Students will work in teams to prototype and test a biomedical device while developing a business plan, before pitching their ideas to leaders in biotech. They will also have the opportunity to secure internships.


11. Museum of Art and Design Artslife


A paid internship program for rising sophomores and juniors, Artslife combines art and design with leadership training, community engagement, and museum studies. Participants learn about careers in the museum world, all while working with peers and receiving guidance and mentorship. Students will also create artwork and develop programs. Participants are paid.


12. New York Stem Cell Foundation Research Institute High School Stem Cell Research Immersive Experience


This Immersive is a bootcamp focusing on stem cell research. Students will learn about this important area, meet NYSCF scientists and engineers, and participate in career development workshops. Rising juniors and seniors and recent high school graduates will have the opportunity to take part.


13. NYU Computer Science for Cyber Security


Offered by NYU’s Tandon School of Engineering, this three-week program equips students with knowledge of the fundamentals of cybersecurity and computer science. It seeks to provide an inclusive environment and break down barriers that have led to the underrepresentation of women and minorities in STEM fields. 


14. STEM Summer Institute at Pace University


STEM Summer Institute helps students learn all about topics like coding and data science through different lenses. In 2021, the theme of the program was data science and analytics. Students work in teams, analyze real data, learn skills, attend panel discussions, use state-of-the-art tools, and more.


15. Summer Youth Podcast Academy


Calling all storytellers! The Bell, in partnership with Gimlet Media, offers a three-week summer podcasting academy to equip students with the skills and experience to create their own podcasts, all while working and networking with professional storytellers, editors, and producers. Students will learn how to interview people, write scripts, record, and edit. NYC residents ages 15-21 are eligible, and preference is given to applicants who currently or previously attended NYC public schools. Participants will receive a $200 stipend.


How Impressive Are Summer Programs?


Extracurricular activities are an important part of the admissions process. Adcoms want to see students exploring their passions outside of the classroom, and summer programs are one way to do that.


That said, not all summer programs are equivalent in the eyes of colleges. Some are highly prestigious and selective, while others are less so. The more selective, the more impressive adcoms will consider the program. 


According to the four tiers of activities, with Tier 1 indicating the rarest and most exceptional extracurriculars and Tier 4 representing those that are the most common, the standard summer program is usually considering a Tier 3-4 activity, although there are some particularly impressive programs that are more prestigious and considered Tier 1-2 activities.


CollegeVine’s free chancing engine can help you determine how your extracurricular activities — along with additional factors like grades and test scores — will affect your chances of admission to colleges across the country. Plus, you’ll receive tips on how to improve your profile!

Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a freelance writer and editor based in Brooklyn with her demigod/lab mix Hercules. She specializes in education, technology and career development. She also writes satire and humor, which has appeared in Slackjaw, Points in Case, Little Old Lady Comedy, Jane Austen’s Wastebasket, and Funny-ish. View her work and get in touch at: www.lauraberlinskyschine.com.