Many college prep programs for high school students take place on a college campus and focus on various subjects like journalism, entrepreneurship, or computer science to expand students’ understanding of their interests. Most programs range from 1-7 weeks long and students either live on campus for that time period or can commute to and from campus.
Getting into one of these pre-college summer programs can be a great addition to your resume, but be cautious when choosing a program because there are many out there that take advantage of students and will select any student that applies. University admissions faculty know which programs are legitimate and which ones are just cash cows, so be selective and do your research when applying. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 25 recognizable college prep programs for high school students:
1. Bank of America Student Leaders
The Bank of America student leaders program is part of Bank of America’s ongoing commitment to youth employment and economic mobility. 225 juniors and seniors are selected each year to take part in a leadership summit in Washington D.C. and are awarded paid internships with local nonprofits like Boys & Girls Club or Habitat for Humanity where they learn first-hand about the needs of their community.
2. Carnegie Mellon Summer Academy for Math & Science
This is a six week summer program for historically underrepresented minority groups interested in pursuing STEM-related undergraduate majors. Students can choose from two different tracks: science and engineering or computer science. Rising juniors and seniors are encouraged to apply, though a limited number of juniors are accepted.
3. Center for Excellence in Education – Research Science Institute (RSI)
80 students are selected for the cost-free Research Institute at MIT every summer where they participate in a week of STEM intensives followed by a 5 week research internship culminating in written and oral presentations of their research findings.
4. Yale Young Global Scholars
This two week academic and leadership program at Yale combines lectures, seminars, and small-group discussions designed to challenge and inspire students in specialites from applied science and engineering to literature, philosophy, and culture.
5. University of Pennsylvania – Leadership in the Business World
A month-long summer program for 80 rising high school seniors who want an introduction to an undergraduate business education and the opportunity to hone their leadership, teamwork, and communication skills. Students have opportunities to learn about leadership in 21st century organizations through a dynamic and rigorous mix of classes with professors and business leaders, company site visits, and team-building activities.
6. University of Notre Dame – Leadership Seminars
This 10-day program on Notre Dame’s campus is for 90 academically talented students who show impressive leadership within their communities and focuses on topics like global issues, the environment, and the state of race in 21st century America. Students are eligible to receive one college credit upon completion of the program.
7. Texas Tech University – Clark Scholars
For rising juniors and seniors, this 7-week research program guides students through a hands-on practical research experience with experienced faculty and includes fun activities, weekly seminars and field trips.
8. Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)
A cost-free six-week educational experience for high school juniors, TASP centers on an academic seminar that meets every weekday morning for three hours. In addition to the seminar, students participate in a public-speaking program, attend lectures by guest speakers, and hold other social and intellectual activities as a community.
9. Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SuMaC)
SUMac leads participants on a journey in advanced mathematics through lectures, guided research, and group problem solving over three weeks. In a social environment centered on mathematics, participants explore current lines of mathematical research, the historical development of important areas of mathematics, and applications across scientific disciplines.
10. Simons Summer Research Program
Simons summer research program is a 6-week program for rising seniors who will work with distinguished faculty mentors at Stony Brook University, learn laboratory techniques and tools, become part of active research teams, and experience life at a research university.
11. Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS)
PROMYS is a six-week summer program at Boston University designed to encourage 80 strongly motivated high school students from around the country to explore in depth the creative world of mathematics in a supportive community of peers, counselors, research mathematicians, and visiting scientists.
12. Princeton University Summer Journalism Program
35-40 rising seniors from low-income backgrounds are selected for this ten day seminar on journalism. The program’s goal is to diversify college and professional newsrooms by encouraging outstanding students from low-income backgrounds to pursue careers in journalism. All expenses, including students’ travel costs to and from Princeton, are paid for by the program.
13. Ohio State University – Ross Mathematics Program
The Ross Mathematics Program is a six week program for students ages 15-18 with interests in mathematics and science. Students take a basic course in number theory and are immersed in a world of mathematical discovery.
14. Monell Center Science Apprenticeship Program
The Monell apprenticeship is a paid internship for high school and undergrad students in philadelphia that provides students with hands-on research training, improves student learning in science, encourages critical thought and communication skills, and increases appreciation of the chemical senses.
15. Michigan State University – High School Honors Science, Math and Engineering Program (HSHSP)
A seven-week, intensive summer research program for rising seniors from across the United States who wish to gain more experience conducting research while living on the campus of a major research-intensive university.
16. Michigan Math and Science Scholars
Open to any rising high school sophomore, junior, or senior, this program is designed to introduce high school students to current developments and research in the sciences and to encourage the next generation of researchers to develop and retain a love of mathematics and science.
17. MathILy – Bryn Mawr College
This 5-week program for mathematically-talented high school students introduces them to new ideas to improve their problem-solving skills, learn advanced mathematics, and hone overall thinking skills.
18. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Minority Introduction to Science and Engineering (MITES)
A cost-free, six-week residential academic enrichment program for rising high school seniors – many of whom come from underrepresented or underserved communities – who have a strong academic record and are interested in studying and exploring careers in science and engineering. Students take one calculus course, one life sciences course, one physics course, a humanities course and an elective course.
In this program, students interested in entrepreneurship spend four weeks building and launching an actual start-up, learning from industry experts, and working in a group of peer co-founders to build real products and solve business challenges. LaunchX has programs at Universities around the U.S. and admits students from all over the world.
High school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors with a strong interest in broadcasting, newspapers, magazines, photojournalism or online media are encouraged to apply. The six-day training camp brings together culturally diverse students from across the nation to learn from veteran journalists and leading media executives. JCamp participants will receive hands-on training and produce multiplatform news packages for the program’s news site.
21. Jackson Laboratory – Summer Student Program
The Summer Student Program is designed for 48 undergraduate and high school students chosen from all over the U.S. who want to immerse themselves in genetics and genomics research. It emphasizes laboratory discovery, communication of knowledge, and professional growth. Students participate in an ongoing research program with the support of an experienced scientific mentor. They develop an independent project, implement their plan, analyze the data, and report the results. At the end of the summer, they present their findings to researchers, other students, and parents. The Summer Student Program is available at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor, Maine and The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut.
22. Indiana University – Young Women’s Institute
The Young Women’s Institute is open to women finishing their junior year of high school (rising seniors). Students are selected from around the country to spend a week at Indiana University in Bloomington participating in workshops with top Kelley School of Business faculty, interacting with Kelley alumni and current students, preparing a real-world business case project, building leadership and communication skills, and connecting with like-minded women interested in business.
23. Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSIM)
HCSSiM is an intensive six-week encounter with college-level mathematics for talented and highly motivated high school students at Hampshire College in Massachusetts. Participants spend a major portion of each day actively engaged in doing mathematics (not simply learning the results of mathematics).
24. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Camp
The Girls Who Code summer immersion program is a 7-week program for 10th-11th grade girls to learn coding and get exposure to tech jobs. Each week of the program covers projects related to computer science, such as art, storytelling, robotics, video games, websites, and apps. You’ll also hear from guest speakers, participate in workshops, connect with female engineers and entrepreneurs, and go on field trips.
25. Foundation for Teaching Economics – Economics for Leaders (EFL)
The goal of economics for leaders is to give promising students the skills to be more effective leaders and to teach them how to employ economic analysis when considering difficult public policy choices. EFL is a selective summer program for high school sophomores and juniors that teaches leaders how to integrate economics into the process of decision-making in a hands-on environment.
Summer is here, a time to relax, spend time with family, engage in fun/interesting activities, and … read! Here’s a list of 20 great books that we recommend for high school students:
1. To Kill a Mockingbird
Harper Lee’s seminal coming-of-age story set in the fictional southern town of Maycomb, Alabama. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: racial injustice, moral and spiritual growth, courage and integrity, innocence and experience.
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four
George Orwell’s vision of a totalitarian future, not long after the Atomic Wars have reduced the geopolitical map to three superstates: Eurasia, Oceania, and Eastasia. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: totalitarianism and state power, surveillance, individual freedom, the nature of truth, the power of propaganda.
3. Lord of the Flies
William Golding’s tale of child castaways who establish a violent social order on a deserted island. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: civilization and governance, social and moral order, savagery and primitivism, cruelty, leadership, injustice.
4. Animal Farm
George Orwell’s allegory tracing the formation of Soviet Russia. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: totalitarianism and state power, individual freedom, the mutability of historical truth, the power of propaganda, the cult of personality.
5. Catcher in the Rye
The reclusive J.D. Salinger’s most popular novel, told through the eyes of the notoriously irreverent teenager Holden Caulfield. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: unreliable narrators, individuality and identity, social alienation and rebellion, social mores and rules.
6. The Grapes of Wrath
John Steinbeck’s Depression-era classic, which follows the travels of impoverished Dust Bowl refugees as they flee westward to California. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: wealth and poverty, injustice, social and political policy and governance, biblical themes such as judgment and redemption.
7. Invisible Man
Ralph Ellison’s meditation on the effects of race, told from the perspective of an African American narrator rendered invisible by his skin color. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: race and racial injustice, identity, ideology and belief systems.
8. The Alchemist
Paulo Coelho’s tale of a Spanish shepherd who hopes to find his destiny on a journey to Egypt. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: adventure and courage, hope, destiny.
Kurt Vonnegut’s dark, absurdist comedy centered on the devastating firebombing of Dresden, Germany, during World War II. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: nonlinear narratives, unreliable narrators, existentialism and absurdism, the true nature of warfare.
10. The Handmaid’s Tale
Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel depicting the rise, in the United States, of a theocratic government dedicated to the oppression of women. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: totalitarianism, patriarchy and misogyny, surveillance, politics and governance, gender roles.
11. The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s lyrical, Jazz Age novel about the idealist James Gatsby—and the nature of the American Dream. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: the Jazz Age, the American Dream, wealth and class, idealism.
12. The Bluest Eye
Toni Morrison’s story of Pecola Breedlove, a young, often-abused African American girl who dreams of having blue eyes—a tangible sign of acceptance in a world dominated by white conceptions of beauty and belonging. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: identity, race and racial injustice, the effects of abuse, beauty and ugliness, insanity.
13. Of Mice and Men
John Steinbeck’s story of an unlikely—and tragically fated—friendship between two men of remarkably different intellectual abilities. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: friendship and loyalty, character, cruelty and mercy.
Shakespeare’s portrait of an ambitious Scottish warrior who wants to be king—and is goaded to murder to achieve his goal. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: the nature of evil, power and ambition, insanity, chaos and disorder.
15. Brave New World
Aldous Huxley’s slim novel envisioning a future “utopia” with perverse qualities—as the human race succumbs to overdoses of pleasure, amusement, and hedonism. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: genetic manipulation, state power, drug use, individualism and society.
16. The Road
Cormac McCarthy’s bleak novel about a boy and his father seeking safety in a post-apocalyptic world. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: good and evil, death, apocalypse, cruelty, hope and hopelessness.
17. Their Eyes Were Watching God
Zora Neale Hurston’s heavily vernacular novel depicting the life of Janie Crawford, an African American woman in the Jim Crow South at the turn of the 20th century. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: gender roles, race and racial injustice, the effects of abuse, the representation of American dialects, the nature of love.
18. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Stephen Chbosky’s epistolary, coming-of-age novel about an introverted, emotionally scarred high school freshman named Charlie. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: introverts and extroverts, teen romance, alcohol and drug use, the effects of abuse.
Marjane Satrapi’s graphic novel, an autobiography that describes growing up in Tehran, Iran, during the era of the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: graphic novels, Iranian culture, politics and religion, war.
Elie Wiesel’s spare memoir-novel based on his experiences in concentration camps during the Holocaust. Primary themes of interest to high schoolers: good and evil, the Holocaust, faith and faithlessness, the Jewish experience.
Article published in the College Board
Do your seniors know that slacking off during the spring semester or after being accepted to college may jeopardize their future plans? Every year, colleges rescind offers of admission, put students on academic probation, or alter financial aid packages as a result of “senioritis.” How can you help prevent this common syndrome?
Colleges may reserve the right to deny admission to an accepted applicant should the student’s senior-year grades drop. (Many college acceptance letters now explicitly state this.) Admission officers can ask a student to explain a drop in grades and can revoke an offer of admission if not satisfied with the response.
And because the colleges do not receive final grades until June or July, students may not learn of a revoked admission until July or August, after they’ve given up spots at other colleges and have few options left.
What colleges expect
Colleges see both a midyear grade report and a final (year-end) transcript and they expect students to maintain previous levels of academic success.
Colleges expect seniors to complete courses they enrolled in, including high-level courses. Many college applications ask applicants to list senior-year courses, with information about course levels and credit hours. College admission officers are interested in academic commitment and course completion.
According to an article in The New York Times*:
- The University of Colorado Boulder rescinded admission for 45 of its accepted students, 10 of whom had already attended freshman orientation, selected classes or met roommates.
- The University of Michigan sent out three different letters to its incoming freshmen with poor final grades: 62 issuing gentle warnings, 180 requesting an explanation and nine revoking admission.
- Twenty-three would-be freshmen found themselves without a college when the University of Washington revoked their acceptances during the summer because of poor final grades.
Tips for keeping seniors on track
One way to prevent senioritis is to ensure that students remain excited, active, and focused throughout their senior year.
Challenge your seniors to:
- Enjoy their senior experience — responsibly. Encourage them to celebrate the last year of school. They may enjoy cheering at football games, going to the prom, attending graduation festivities, and participating in clubs, sports, and volunteer work.
- Commit to an internship or career-focused job. This can help them make informed decisions about their education and career goals. Or they can try out college early by taking a class at a local college in a subject that interests them or in which they excel.
- Keep a calendar of their activities and deadlines. This includes tests, college applications, senior-year events and extracurriculars. Caution them not to overextend themselves.
Challenging your students in these ways will not only inoculate them against senioritis, but will leave them in a stronger position to transition from high school and face the rigors of college.
*Laura Pappano, “Slackers, Beware,” The New York Times, April 22, 2007.
Thank you Gap Year Association for your insights!
In most cases, a gap year candidate fits into a few specific categories: some are tired of running the same academic tracks, thus feeling ‘burnt out.’ In this typical case, students might be fairly high achieving academically, but perhaps want some time to revitalize and seek passions that lay off-the-track rather than within its four walls. In other cases, an ideal candidate is one who simply doesn’t know for sure what they want to be doing with their life and fear that the average $39,800 per year in tuition costs won’t be well spent until they do. Thus, taking a gap year is about clarifying their own goals before university, and potentially learning that a university degree is not necessary to pursue their chosen career. In other cases, students will simply consider a gap year because they either didn’t get into the university they were hoping to, or because they were granted a spring acceptance and now have a semester of time they want to do something productive with.
In every case though, a student taking a gap year is one who will require some support as they’ll necessarily be breaking barriers set by peers, their parents to some degree, and hopefully their own comfort zones.
Considerations for parents:
- Let the student lead the way. This is their experience, and the “natural consequences” of their choices are fundamental to real-world learning
- Start with a list of exciting ideas – browse the Accredited Programs List and just write down 15-20 exciting themes. Those themes turn into a great outline for a fantastic gap year
- Students should keep a journal while on their gap year!
- Most students are acceptable gap year candidates. A gap year stands to benefit anyone who takes one … although they might not be right for everyone
- The majority of Gap Year students require some level of support, but it varies from student to student what levels of support they need
- Work with your family to identify core priorities, career explorations, learning outcomes, hobbies – making this “intentional” is key
- Start with more structure and work your way into less, this puts heavier costs upfront and can save money
- Volunteering is COMPLICATED. The Gap Year Association uses the Fair Trade Learning Standards as their test for ethical volunteering
- Find the RIGHT expert. You might not need a Professional Gap Year Consultant, but make sure you know the essentials, especially if you’re traveling to the developing world
- Make sure you consider any medications and allow for contingencies – if something goes wrong at school there it is a lot different than by yourself in the Sahara
Gap year during Covid-19? See which programs are available HERE
Questions? Let’s chat!
Weil College Advising, LLC
For most students, it’s officially summer now! Given how this year ended, it may be hard to think about school in the fall. But now is a good time to reflect on this past year and set your goals for the upcoming school year.
Look back at this past year:
- Are you happy with your grades?
- Did you enjoy your classes?
- Did you spend enough (or too much) time in extracurricular activities?
- Are there activities or classes you wish you could have taken?
- What one change will you make for school next year?
Take Action: Set a task with your goals for next year!
Need help? Let’s chat!
Founder, Weil CVollege Advising, LLC
From an article written by Leslie Josel
To help my students get unstuck and started, I introduced the concept of setting “seven daily intentions.” They provide a roadmap for the day, but in a gentler and more balanced manner. And I hope they help all of you, too!
1. Do something for your BRAIN.
Help your child with their online learning or teach them a new life skill (I have a client who is working through the car manual with her 16-year-old son), read a book, learn a new skill or dust off an old one. Do SOMETHING that requires some heavy mental lifting.
And a tip within a tip? If you have a child at home, have them teach YOU! Does your child play an instrument? Know the secret to mastering chess? My son has been teaching my husband how to play the ukulele, and the confidence and connection is priceless.
2. Do something for the HOUSE.
As we all shelter in place, there is no end to what needs to be done in our homes. Whether it’s cooking a meal, creating your monthly budget, paying bills, or planting your spring garden, make sure that every day you are putting in “house time.” Being able to “control” what little we can provides a sense of accomplishment and progress.
And a tip within a tip? Grab your children or your spouse and work together! Sometimes “body doubling” (being in an environment where others are doing what you’re doing) is super motivating. Make it fun by playing everyone’s favorite music and having snacks on hand.
3. Do something for your BODY.
Whether it’s a virtual yoga class, going for a walk, eating healthy or morning meditation, the way you treat your body directly effects your ADHD brain. Engage and invigorate your brain with an invigorating walk in the fresh spring air or a dance cardio workout.
4. Do something for YOURSELF.
I firmly believe that self-care is more important than ever. Whether you relax in a soothing bubble bath, catch up with friends on a Zoom call, or indulge in your favorite ice cream and entertainment magazine (Ok, that’s mine!), building “YOU” time into your day is not selfish but essential and medicinal. Our stress and anxiety levels are off the charts right now. So, remember, no guilt! Taking care of yourself allows you the brain power to take care of others!
5. Do something for SOMEONE ELSE.
This one is my favorite. Why? Because I’m finding the more we are physically distant from others, the more we crave human connection. Our desire to help and support each other – from our immediate family to our community – is powerful and important. Not only does it enrich our lives, it also keeps us happy and filled with purpose.
6. Do something for your SPACE.
Making beds, doing laundry, and yes, even cleaning can provide some much-needed order during this chaos. Performing small daily tasks will provide you with small successes, building the muscle you need to tackle those larger, more daunting projects! If you are looking for ideas for starting a large organizing project, I invite you to check out this easy-to-follow roadmap for getting started: https://www.additudemag.com/home-projects-coronavirus/
7. Do something for YOUR FUTURE GOALS.
I can’t stress this point enough: Balance your focus between today and what comes next. This is critical to your well-being. I know it is impossible to plan, as we can’t predict the “when,” but working toward future goals gives us some power and control to be ready when it does.
Questions? Let’s chat!
Founder, Weil College Advising, LLC.