Your Ultimate Guide to Summer Programs for High Schoolers

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There are many benefits to participating in summer programs. You’ll get a taste of college life—in many cases, you’ll live in dorms and take college-level classes; you might get college credit or placement for courses; you might get ahead in high school by learning new material over the summer; and you’re showing colleges that you enjoy learning and are serious about your academic future. You’ll also meet like-minded students who are focused on their education, too.


No matter what your niche or interest—or if you want to participate in a more general, academic-oriented program—there are plenty of summer programs perfect for you. Here are 11 of our favorites.


11 Great Summer Programs


1. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

In this program, girls entering 11th and 12th grades engage in project-based learning in STEM fields, as well as gain exposure to careers in tech. One perk is that it’s free to attend.


2. Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY)

To participate in CTY, a summer program for talented students, you must take a qualifying test, such as the SAT, and score above a certain threshold. There are 25 program sites, including Hopkins, in the U.S. and Hong Kong, where you’ll explore issues related to civic leadership, critical and cultural studies, or global issues. CTY also offers distance learning in particular subjects, a program available at other times of year aside from just summer.


3. Mathcamp

You must take a quiz to qualify for this mathematics program, in which you’ll explore undergraduate- and graduate-level topics in math and engage in problem solving. It’s free to attend for students who demonstrate need.


4. National Student Leadership Conference

You may be nominated by apply based on other merit to attend this program, in which you’ll explore a particular field: business, government and law, or STEM. You’ll also visit sites related to your field and develop leadership skills.


5. National Youth Science Camp (NYSC)

Two students per state and Washington, D.C. are invited to attend NYSC, where you’ll participate in STEM-related seminars and excursions led by scientists and other camp staff. This residential program is in West Virginia.

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6. Summer Discovery

Fourteen college campuses, including UCLA, UPenn, Johns Hopkins, Georgetown, and Yale participate in the Summer Discovering program. You’ll take courses taught by university faculty in disciplines like business, STEM, leadership, foreign language, writing, and other areas.


7. Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

At SIG, you’ll take courses in a wide variety of subjects, along with extracurricular activities. Online courses are available through the program as well. In order to be accepted, you must show evidence of academic aptitude through test scores or recommendations.


8. Telluride Association Summer Program

In this six-week program, high school juniors will attend an academic seminar and public speaking program. Telluride also offers a program for sophomores on topics related to black and ethnic students. Both programs are free to attend.


9. University of Chicago Young Scholars Program

Mathematically talented students have the opportunity to learn various math-related concepts at this program. You’ll qualify with standardized test scores. It’s also partially grant-funded for qualifying applicants.


10. The Wharton School’s Leadership in the Business World

For students looking to hone leadership and entrepreneurship skills, look no further than Wharton, UPenn’s business school. In this program, high school students take courses taught by Wharton professors and business leaders and participate in company site visits.


11. Young Writers’ Workshop (YWW) at the University of Virginia

Taught by professional writers, budding writers may participate in courses within their speciality, such as fiction, nonfiction, playwriting, and other genres, at YWW. The program is two or three weeks depending on the session.



Other Programs Available

Many individual colleges and universities offer general summer programs with a range of courses. These programs are a great idea for students hoping to attend that college or want to stay local for the summer—many have commuting options in addition to residential options.


Examples include:


There are many other options available. If you’re looking for programs at a specific school, check on the college website. You’re sure to find one that aligns with your academic goals and interests.


To find more summer programs and learn about why you should attend one, check out these posts:


Pre-College Summer Programs for High School Students

Affordable Academic Summer Programs for High School Students

Why You Need to Gear Up Now for Summer Programs


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Laura Berlinsky-Schine
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.