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15 Summer Programs in Maine for High Schoolers in 2024

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If you’re wondering what’s the best way for you to spend the summer, consider a pre-college summer program. Ranging in length from a few days to several weeks, these programs allow high schoolers to expand their skill sets while meeting and interacting with other students who share their interests.  


While some summer programs are highly competitive, requiring letters of recommendation and application essays, others are open to all students of a certain age or grade level. So, how do you choose the right program? Read on to learn about the benefits of summer programs, along with 15 of the best options available in Maine. 


Why Summer Programs Benefit High Schoolers 


One of the best reasons to consider a pre-college program is that it allows you to get a feel for university life. Many summer programs involve students living in dorms and attending rigorous college-style classes. This is a great opportunity for students who have never lived away from home to get accustomed to the experience. 


Staying at a college over the summer can also help you narrow down your school lists by developing preferences about what you like. Living in a city might help you determine the type of campus environment you are looking for. You can also get a sense of whether the subject you’re studying over the summer is one you’d want to pursue as a major or career.  


So which pre-college program is right for you? Here are numerous exciting programs offered by schools in Maine:


15 Summer Programs in Maine for High Schoolers  


1. Upward Bound Summer Program


Dates: N/A

Location: Bowdoin College 

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: Free


For students who are first-generation, low-income, or attend one of the designated high schools in Maine, Upward Bound provides an amazing opportunity to have a college experience and further themselves academically. Over six weeks, students take courses in laboratory science, writing and literature, math, and a foreign language. There are also many opportunities to help students navigate the college process like special Senior Seminars, SAT prep classes, trips to local colleges in the New England area, a college fair, and a variety of workshops.


2. Maine College of Art & Design Pre-College


Dates: July 6-27

Location: Maine College of Art & Design  

Application Deadline: April 15 

Cost: $4,400-$4,900


If you have a talent for the arts, this pre-college program may be the perfect choice for you.  Offered by the Maine College of Art & Design, this three-week program lets rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors customize their experiences by choosing two majors from the following list of options: 


  • Animation
  • Illustration: Comics & Graphic Novels
  • Painting
  • Printmaking
  • Ceramics Handbuilding
  • Fashion & Textile Design
  • Black & White Darkroom Photography
  • Metalsmithing & Jewelry Design


Participants earn three college-level studio elective credits for completing this program. 


3. Consider Engineering 



  • Session 1: July 14-17
  • Session 2:July 21-24
  • Session 3: July 28-31

Location: University of Maine 

Application Deadline: January 15 

Cost: Free


This four-day overnight program for high school juniors allows participants to experience a slice of college life and learn what it takes to become an engineer. Students participate in engineering experiments and problem-solving challenges under the guidance of practicing engineers and network with other aspiring engineers while living and learning at the University of Maine Orono.


Admission is competitive and just 108 students are chosen to participate in this fantastic summer program.


4. Maine Summer Youth Music (MSYM) Camp


Dates: July 14-19

Location: University of Maine   

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: N/A


For more than a half-century, young musicians have been attending this residential camp to make music and experience the University of Maine firsthand. MSYM offers large and small classes and ensembles in a variety of areas, including:


  • Jazz Ensemble
  • String Ensemble
  • Concert Band
  • Symphonic Band
  • Musical Theatre
  • Chorus


MSYM runs a junior and senior camp concurrently—the junior camp is for students in grades 5 through 8, while the senior camp is aimed at students in grades 8 through 12.


5. Atlantic Music Festival (AMF) Pre-College Program


Dates: July 24-August 4 

Location: Colby College   

Application Deadline: June 1

Cost: $4,950-$8,700


This program for students under age 18 combines rigorous musical training with access to college-level masterclasses to help participants deepen their understanding of music. Students receive personal instruction, have numerous opportunities to perform, and can tailor the curriculum to meet their unique interests and goals—they can enroll in a dedicated pathway in fields like instrumental, piano, composition, and vocal arts.


6. New England Suzuki Institute


Dates: June 23-29 

Location: Colby College   

Application Deadline: June 1

Cost: $561 and up 


The New England Suzuki Institute is a music immersion program based on the Suzuki method, which teaches music in a manner similar to how people learn their native language. The program is open to students of violin, viola, cello, piano, and guitar of all ages.


Space in the program is limited—just 130 students are admitted on a first-come, first-served basis—so register early if you’re interested.


7. Great Books at Colby College 


Dates: July 21-27 

Location: Colby College   

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $480-$1,580


Although this week-long summer program isn’t specifically for high schoolers, those who are avid readers are sure to be interested in it—it combines learning about great works of literature with living on Colby College’s picturesque college campus. Participants in this program will sit for lectures, take part in discussions, watch films, and engage in group activities.


This year’s theme is Love & Passion and will explore six works:


    • Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
    • Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë
    • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
  • The Feast of Love by Charles Baxter
  • Bonjour Tristesse by Françoise Sagan


8. Young Dancers Intensive 


Dates: June 29-July 13 

Location: Bates College   

Application Deadline: June 1

Cost: $2,650-$2,800 


Serious dance students ages 14 to 18 will want to check out this rigorous residential dance program. Participants take five classes a day, work with professionals, attend performances, and receive mentorship while building their skills. The program culminates with a cumulative class performance.


Select advanced students ages 16 to 18 can stay for the “Extensions” program. Running from July 14-20, it allows participants to continue their training and build on what they worked on the previous two weeks.


9. Island Through Time 


Dates: July 28-August 9  

Location: College of the Atlantic 

Application Deadline: April 1

Cost: $4,400 


High school juniors and seniors can study whales, birds, and ecology outside of the classroom—and in their own environment—while earning college credit in this awesome summer program. Participants visit everywhere from College of the Atlantic field stations to small island villages to seal haul-outs and communicate their experiences through writing, painting, and drawing.


The program culminates with a final team presentation delivered to professors and peers.


10. Saint Joseph’s College of Maine Jumpstart Program


Dates: May 15-June 26   

Location: Online   

Application Deadline: April 1

Cost: ~$600


This six-week intensive summer program allows ambitious high schoolers to get a jump on earning college credit. The college offers five classes in its “Maymester,” including an English class on horror author and Maine native, Stephen King. If you don’t want to travel or aren’t able to, the online nature of this program might suit you well.


11. Health Careers Explorations Camp 


Dates: June 22-24  

Location: University of New England   

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: Free


This free program is designed to expose students from rural and underserved communities to careers in health care. During this residential camp, students learn about pathways in fields including:


  • Dental Hygiene
  • Dental Medicine
  • Osteopathic Medicine
  • Neuroscience
  • Nursing
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Pharmacy
  • Physical Therapy
  • Physician Assistant
  • Public Health


Participants also take part in college and career preparation sessions.


 12. Girls Leadership Week 


Dates: July 1-5 

Location: N/A 

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $710


Young female-identifying sophomores, juniors, and seniors will build confidence and courage through experiential activities in this exciting summer program. The program culminates with an overnight sea-kayaking trip to Cow Island, allowing participants to display the skills they learned throughout the week. The program is led by strong guides who model what it means to be a positive, inclusive, and resilient leader.


13. Maine Media Camp


Dates: August 4-9

Location: Husson University  

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $700


Learn about media and communications in this week-long summer program for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors. The program introduces participants to fields like:


  • Audio Engineering
  • Extended Reality
  • Graphic/Visual Design
  • Journalism
  • Live Sound Technology
  • Marketing Communications
  • Photography
  • Video/Film Production
  • Integrated Technologies


Students gain real-world experience through hands-on activities and working in the New England School of Communications studios.


14. Maine Arts Camp 


Dates: July 20-August 3

Location: White Mountain School  

Application Deadline: N/A

Cost: $4,800-$8,700


Creative kids ages 10 through 16 will love this artistic summer camp and the chance to explore activities ranging from black-and-white photography to fiction writing to baking. Participants also engage in traditional camp activities including songs, campfires, and field trips. Ultimately, participants develop their artistic side while building self-esteem, honing social skills, and becoming a part of the camp community.


15. The Jackson Laboratory Student Summer Program 


Dates: June 1-August 10

Location: The Jackson Laboratory (Bar Harbor, Maine) 

Application Deadline: January 29 

Cost: Free


This 10-week summer program is for high school seniors and undergraduates with an interest in genetics and genomics research. Students are paired with an experienced mentor and participate in an ongoing research program. The program is extremely competitive—just 40 students are chosen from a nationwide applicant pool.


Not only does this program not cost anything, but participants receive a $6,500 stipend.


How Do Summer Programs Impact Your College Chances?


Most selective colleges and universities evaluate extracurriculars according to four tiers. Tier 1 encompasses the most prestigious and specialized activities, while Tier 4 represents those that are the most common. 


While most summer programs usually fall into Tiers 3 or 4, there are some highly prestigious ones, particularly those that are free and very selective, that fall into higher tiers—such as The Jackson Laboratory Student Summer Program.  


If you’re wondering how your summer program of choice and other activities will affect your chances of admission to your dream school, try our chancing engine. This free tool takes into account factors like grades, test scores, and extracurriculars to estimate your odds of acceptance to hundreds of colleges and universities. Plus, you’ll get tips on how to boost your profile!

Short Bio
A graduate of Northeastern University with a degree in English, Tim Peck currently lives in Concord, New Hampshire, where he balances a freelance writing career with the needs of his two Australian Shepherds to play outside.