Summer Programs & Opportunities and how to make the most of your time "off"

While studying for the SAT/ACT in order to boost your score is a good way to spend the summer, your time will be even better spent if you are able to distinguish yourself from the pack with a unique experience or a deeper and evidenced way you have explored a potential major or career of interest. 

Choosing a summer program: For those who want to stay "academic", almost every single US college holds summer camps for high school students on their campuses. They vary in reputation, eligibility, age offerings, duration and curriculum offerings. Where to begin? 

Read a survey taken from Top 50 college Admission Officers about how they view high school student summer experiences during the reading of college applications here:

Still not sure how to spend your summer?

No singular program will get a student into any particular college, but some experiences are game-changing. If you are considering an academic program at a college, credit-bearing programs always carry more weight and legitimacy. 

Not sure what you want to study? It will be best to focus on an experience that builds your skills in an area that may help you in the future. Research some options below and we will talk more specifically about you can make the most of your summers leading up to college.


1. Academic-Focused Summer Programs

Exploration (Hosted at Yale, Wellesley and Wheaton campuses)
Explo provides a range of one-, two-, and three-week summer options for students ages 7 to 17. Choose from Explo 360Explo FocusExplo English, and Explo Mini, or mix and match among all the offerings, and prepare to have a truly amazing summer experience. The international leader in summer enrichment — and heralded as more diverse than any summer program of its kind — Explo invites students to engage in intellectual inquiry, critical thinking, and spirited adventure as they build independence, fall in love with learning, and make friends from around the world.

Education Unlimited (Hosted at MIT, Yale, Brown, Georgetown, Stanford, and more)
Education Unlimited provides academic summer camps & precollege summer programs for students entering grades 4-12. Our California summer camps and Massachusetts summer programs include public speaking camps, summer college admissions prep programs, science camps, summer acting camp, creative writing camp, computer camp, video production camp and East Coast college tours.

Barnard College (NYC) Some programs include:

  • YOUNG WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE - Students delve into gender issues, social change, and leadership in this intensive one week program. Comprised of morning lectures and afternoon workshops, students develop a deeper understanding of leadership through a feminist lens.
  • DANCE IN THE CITY - In this rigorous ten day program, students explore dance from all angles.  From dance theory and history classes to technique classes at the Alvin Ailey Extension School, students have the opportunity to delve into the dance world from every perspective.  As part of the program, students have the opportunity to observe performances of some of the world's best and  perform their own work. 
  • ENTREPRENEURS-IN-TRAINING - In just 11 days, students learn how to turn an idea into a promising business.  Students attend class, workshops, and site visits to build their entrepreneurial skills and gain a better understanding of the start-up world. 

University of Pennsylvania Summer
The Pre-College Program is designed for academically curious high school students who are excited about the intellectual challenge and residential freedom of a true undergraduate experience. Our program offers more than 30 undergraduate courses in a wide array of disciplines taught by Penn faculty, staff and visiting scholars.

Julian Krinsky Camps & Programs
Unique day and residential programs for ages 7-18, includes coding, business, global affairs, cooking, and sports. mostly in Pennsylvania area colleges and universities including Villanova, U Penn, Haverford, and others. Example program: Global Leadership and International Affairs at U Penn: The unique Global Leadership & International Affairs summer program is designed for high school students and features debate, public speaking, research workshops, social entrepreneurship, realistic UN simulations, and guest speakers — including international dignitaries, members of foreign embassies and authorities in the field. You will also enjoy field trips to the United Nations in New York City and Embassy Row in Washington, DC.

Wolfeboro: The Summer Boarding School
Wolfeboro, in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire aims to be the singular summer option for families, schools and consultants whose priority is to develop a stronger, more confident and more independent student, well-prepared for academic success in the next school year and beyond. It is a full-time residential camp with an intensive academic focus, often to prepare boarding school students for success. No connective technology is allowed during students' time there.

Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) (Hosted at Princeton, Yale, Bryn Mawr, UCLA, UC Berkeley, and more)
SIG programs are three-week summer programs for gifted students ages 9-17 providing instruction in over 60 exciting and challenging multi-curricular, arts and recreational courses. Students may choose to live on campus (residential status) or commute daily (commuter or extended commuter status). On weekends, residential students participate in a variety of activities (off campus trips on Saturdays, Sunday Activity Day, local community events, and extended evening programs) that provide a change of pace and further enrichment for each student. Must meet eligibility qualifications as gifted or talented student.

COSMOS (California State Summer School for Math and Science)
COSMOS is an intensive four-week summer residential program for students who have demonstrated an aptitude for academic and professional careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subjects. Talented and motivated students completing grades 8-12 have the opportunity to work with renowned faculty, researchers and scientists in state-of-the-art facilities, while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools. Through challenging curricula that are both hands-on and lab intensive, COSMOS fosters its students’ interests, skills, and awareness of educational and career options in STEM fields.

Summer Discovery
Over a dozen campus location throughout US from UC schools to northeast. Many programs ranging from STEM to business, SAT prep, ESL, marine science, media and entertainment, leadership and law. 

Six- and ten-day academic camps focus on improving self-esteem and instilling valuable learning skills and character traits. Camps are held on three prestigious college campuses: Stanford, Cal State San Marcos, and Villanova. Accelerate your teen’s future with the #1 summer camp for developing character and building lifetime learning skills in an awesome and nurturing environment. We mix academic learning skills with nonstop activity, high-energy interactions, and tons of fun. Also host camps internationally, including in China. 

Blueprint Summer Programs

2. Adventurous Summer Programs

Overland Summer Programs
Hiking, biking, kayaking, leadership, writing, service-oriented trips for grades 4-12 all over the US and the world. For example, From the coast of Maine to the mountains of Alaska, the outdoors becomes our classroom for leadership development. Designed to challenge and inspire, Overland’s leadership trips focus on building individual skills and group cooperation. Our curriculum offers a blend of learning, growth, adventure and fun while focusing in on the dynamic tension between leadership and teamwork. In a wide variety of settings, we explore these ideas and then put them into practice. Under the guidance of two capable and caring Overland leaders and surrounded by a fun and inclusive group, you'll hone your outdoors and leadership skills while backpacking, climbing, kayaking, rafting and canoeing. Our goal? Send you home ready to apply your deeper understanding of leadership and teamwork to life beyond Overland, beyond the outdoors and beyond the boundaries of a single summer.

Rustic Pathways
Adventure and service trips around the world, in over 20 countries. Available for high school students, alternative spring break trips, gap years and group travel. 

National Geographic Student Expeditions
Experience the summer adventure of a lifetime on active trips to Africa, China, Europe, Alaska, and more with National Geographic Student Expeditions.

Putney Student Travel
Summer programs abroad for high school and middle school students. Teen community service, language immersion, outdoor adventure, and pre-college programs.

Experiment in International Living (EIL)
The Experiment in International Living provides 3-, 4-, and 5-week summer programs for high school students who want to connect deeply and engage meaningfully with the richness and complexities of another country. Programs equip students not only with essential cultural and, in many cases, language skills, but also with a deeper awareness of and sensitivity to global issues shaping the diverse communities and regions we visit. Students explore the host country through hands-on experiences in local communities and through the lens of a specific theme. 

3. Volunteering, Working and Internships

Joining an organization in some capacity to gain hands-on experience or just working in a local company serves to further student's understanding of the "real world," potential career options, offer opportunities for maturation and seeing the world from new perspectives, as well as a chance to show they can take on real responsibility and thrive. 

Internships place students in a professional setting, such as a lab or an office, for lengths of time ranging from a few weeks to a semester or more.Some interns are paid or receive credit for their work, but the real value of an internship is in the real-world skills and experiences you gain. You can develop important professional contacts and perhaps find a mentor--and become a more attractive college or job applicant.


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