Summer Programs for High School Students
Looking to make your summer memorable and meaningful? Searching for summer programs for high school students?
Pre-college summer programs may be just the ticket! Through these programs, universities open up their campuses to high school students, allowing them to test drive the college experience, from dorm room to classroom.
Let’s answer some common questions so you can decide if a pre-college summer program might be right for you.
Do you have to pay a fee?
Prices range from free to very expensive when it comes to these programs, so it’s important to consider your budget before looking around.
Participants in the Young Women’s Institute at Indiana University need only to pay for their transportation and personal expenses, as the week-long program is fully funded and free.
But a week at the Young Leaders Institute at Washington University in St. Louis will cost $1,985.
Programs that are longer in duration, offer college credit, or take place at highly desirable Ivy League schools will of course come with higher price tags.
Summer Sessions at the prestigious Stanford run $14,426 to $17,054 for students taking 8 units and living on campus.
Where do you stay?
One of the greatest draws of these programs is getting to experience dorm living, but many also offer commuter options for students who live nearby.
Residential students are usually matched with roommates (or suitemates) with whom they will share their living space. According to the University of Rochester Summer Program website, they “try to make the summer experience as much like a first-year college experience as possible, and part of that experience is learning to live with new people.” They try to put together students who are in different programs and from different states or countries, to give students a diverse experience. The program does not accept roommate requests.
As far as the rooms themselves, the Math and Science Scholars program at University of Michigan notes that each dorm room is equipped with a desk, chairs, twin beds, dressers and lamps, but that students will need to bring sheets, pillows and blankets and towels. They also mention that students may rent a small refrigerator.
Be sure to check with the program you choose to see what you should (or shouldn’t) bring!
Are meals provided?
Tuition for residential programs generally includes meals, which you will eat at an on-campus dining hall.
When registering, you may need to choose a meal plan. Boston University offers their summer program students two different meal plan options. The plan allowing 14 meals per week is ideal for students who prefer to sleep in and skip breakfast, while students who plan to eat every meal in the dining hall should opt for the 19-meal plan.
Meal options for commuter students vary, but typically they are welcome to purchase meals and eat on campus with fellow students.
How long do summer programs for high school students last?
Summer programs can range from 1-week to 8-weeks in duration. Many universities offer a variety of programs that differ in length.
For example, Syracuse University offers 36 different 2, 3, 4 and 6-week programs related to the many degree programs offered there. In their 2-week programs, students can focus on specific topics including Geography, Animation, Sports Management, Photography, Cyber Law, Graphic Design, Creative Writing, and many others. The longer 6-week programs are for broader subject areas including Forensic Science, Liberal Arts, Media Literacy and Public Communications.
Similarly, at the University of Southern California’s USC Summer Programs, students can opt for the 2-week non-credit program or the 4-week for-credit program.
Are they for seniors only?
Many pre-college summer programs are aimed at high school students going into their junior or senior years, but there are also some open to younger students.
Brown College’s STEM II is designed for students completing grades 8 & 9 (ages 13-15). The 2-week residential summer program is academically rigorous and will help prepare students for advanced study in the STEM fields.
Vanderbilt’s Summer Academy has options for advanced learners as young as 7th grade, and the program length and price increase with age. Their 7th/8th grade program lasts 1 week, their 9th/10th grade program lasts 2 weeks, and their 11th/12th grade program lasts 3 weeks.
What about eligibility requirements?
Some summer programs allow anyone to attend, but more rigorous academic programs may require transcripts, standardized test scores, recommendation letters and even application essays or placement tests.
For Columbia University’s College Edge: Summer and Academic Year program, participants entering 11th and 12th grade must have a cumulative GPA of 3.3, scores in the 85th percentile or better in all subjects on the PSAT/SAT/PACT/ACT, two strong letters of recommendation, and a strong statement of purpose and writing sample.
Who are the teachers?
Summer programs are taught by the professors and faculty of the hosting university, and occasionally by graduate students.
For their Summer Academic Programs, Carleton faculty members teach each course. Occasionally they bring in guest faculty from nearby prestigious institutions.
Do you get credit?
Sometimes! Some pre-college programs offer credit, but some don’t.
Students in Cornell University’s highly selective Research Apprenticeship in the Biological Sciences (RABS) will earn 6 credits and a Cornell transcript. But don’t expect a relaxed summer camp atmosphere! Participants will need to prepare for the summer by reading provided background material. Once there, they can expect to spend a minimum of 40 hours per week in the laboratory, attend additional seminars, and meet weekly with the program director to discuss their oral presentation and final research paper. This is an intense program for only the most passionate and dedicated students!
Some schools offer both credit and non-credit options.
At Harvard University, students can choose from a 2-week noncredit residential experience or a for-credit 7-week program. The former, called their Pre-College Program, provides access to over 100 noncredit courses, on-campus housing and structured days with classes, meetings and pre-college activities. The latter, called their Secondary School Program, opens the door to 200 courses, on- or off-campus living, and access to typical college extracurricular activities like workshops, intramural sports and music programs.
Boston College offers credit for their Honors Experience and Math Exploration programs, but they also offer non-credit programs in Digital Communities, Psychology, Creative Writing, Business and Leadership, English Language Learners Immersion, Forensic Discovery, Sports Management and Investigative Journalism.
Will it help you get accepted?
Attending a summer program does not guarantee you admission to the school, and it may not even give you a leg up. But it does look great on your application!
Your participation shows that you are eager to learn, passionate about the subject matter and very serious about your future. These are all qualities colleges are looking for in applicants!
What makes this better than standard summer school?
Some summer programs take learning off campus, too, and offer unique experiences.
At the Pre-College Summer Program in Early American History at the College of William & Mary, students travel daily to museums, battlefields, archaeology sites, and other historical landmarks. They will even get their hands dirty as they participate in an active archaeological dig looking for 18th century artifacts!
Where can I find a list of summer programs for high school students?
We’ve compiled a list of some programs worth checking out, but be sure to check the college(s) you’re interested in and those nearby to see what programs they offer for high school students.
|Summer Programs for High School Students||Program cost by week|
|Arizona State University||$1,260.00|
|Berkeley Business Academy for Youth||$5,200 (includes tuition, room & board for U.S. residents)|
|Brown College||$2,596 to $4,299 per course, depending upon length of courses and housing needs|
|Drexel University||$750 (commuter), $1,500 (residential)|
|Economics for Leaders (EFL)||$1,700|
|George Washington University||Between $2,000-$7,000 depending on program length and if earning college credit|
|Georgetown University||$6,199 (includes tuition and room & board)|
|Georgia Tech||$5,850 (includes tuition, room & board, activities)|
|Hampshire College||$4,913 (includes room and board)|
|Harvard Pre-College Program||$4,500 (includes tuition and room & board)|
|Johns Hopkins University||$2,034.00|
|Massachusetts Institute Of Technology||$1,523.00|
|Miami University of Ohio||$1,450 (includes tuition, room & board, fees, materials, and scheduled activities)|
|Michigan State||Between $2,000 and $3,000 depending on in-state or out-of-state|
|Monell Science Apprenticeship Program||This internship provides an hourly wage, however interns are responsible for their own room and board|
|New York University||$12,166 (includes tuition for 8 credits, program fee, and room & board)|
|Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists||$6,600 including room and board (though thanks for the support of sponsors, last year’s students were asked to only pay $4,200)|
|Stony Brook University||$1,600 (includes lab usage fee only)|
|Summer Science Program Experience||$5,450 (includes tuition, transportation to the program, room & board, and supplies)|
|Texas Tech University||Scholars receive a $750 tax-free stipend|
|The College of William and Mary||$1,383.00|
|Tufts University||$2,800 (tuition only)|
|UCLA Business||$3,499 (commuters), $7,399 (residential)|
|University California Los Angeles||$1,732.50|
|University California San Diego||$1,267.00|
|University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)||$3,666 (includes tuition and room & board; discount offered for students entering the UC system the following fall)|
|University of Chicago||$2,166.00|
|University of Delaware||$4,600 for Delaware residents; $7,100 for out-of-state students (includes tuition, room & board, lab fees, and group recreational costs)|
|University of Michigan||Free to all participants (including housing)|
|University of Michigan (Math)||$1,300 per session for commuter students ; $2,100 per session for residential students|
|University of Notre Dame||$3,400 (includes tuition and housing). Some programs also require a lab fee of $150.|
|University Of Pennsylvania||$2,566.00|
|University of Rochester||$4,200 (includes tuition and room & board)|
|University of Southern California||$1,976.00|
|Washington University in St. Louis||$3,885 (includes tuition and room & board)|
Whether you’re indulging a hobby or following the passion that you plan to pursue as your major, pre-college summer programs are an excellent way to spend your summer.
This taste of college life will show you just what to expect of college – from dorm life, to dining halls, to lecture halls – and give you life-long memories along the way.