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Top 10 Summer Programs for High School Students 

By Zach Skillings

Zach Skillings is the Scholarships360 Newsletter Editor. He specializes in college admissions and strives to answer important questions about higher education. When he’s not contributing to Scholarships360, Zach writes about travel, music, film, and culture. His work has been published in Our State Magazine, Ladygunn Magazine, The Nocturnal Times, and The Lexington Dispatch. Zach graduated from Elon University with a degree in Cinema and Television Arts.

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Edited by Maria Geiger

Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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Updated: February 1st, 2024
Top 10 Summer Programs for High School Students 

In high school, it is important to look toward the future and begin thinking about what you may want to major in if you choose to go to college. On the other hand, taking part in an in-person summer camp may sound daunting because you don’t want to give up your summer. For this reason, online summer camps can be the perfect route for you. We included a variety of programs, both in-person and virtual, to help you find the perfect opportunity for you! 

What is a high school summer camp?

Summer programs offer high schoolers the opportunity to hone in on their craft or maybe even decide what their craft is. These programs sometimes help students decide if a certain career path is right or wrong for them as they consider what to major in at college. Summer programs can be beneficial in your freshman and sophomore years of high school to develop interests. During junior and senior years, attending a summer program can be a positive thing to add to a college resume!

Why we chose these programs

There are many worthwhile summer camps for high schoolers available, so think of this list as a starting point. We cannot compile every summer program into one list, but we chose the following programs because they have a positive history and offer students a range of financial options. We also chose a range of programs that could be of interest to a variety of students. Don’t forget to check out local offerings as well. Sometimes the best program for students takes place at their local high school, so make sure to check out all options!

Related: Top summer law programs for high school students

Note about application deadlines and camp open and close dates

If available, we included the deadlines for applying and the opening and closing dates for the following summer art programs. If the application deadlines and camp dates are not available right now, make sure to check the website for updates. 

Also see: Top medical internships for high school students

Top summer camps for high school students

1. Sarah Lawrence College Writers Week

Sarah Lawrence College Writers Week is a week-long workshop for high school students to hone in on their craft in writing. They offer an online and an in-person component, so that they can be more inclusive to people who do not have access to travel. This program also offers a theater element, so if a student is interested in both writing and theater (or writing for theater), this would be a great opportunity. Participants in these programs are guided through workshops each day led by writers, poets, and performance artists to give a unique perspective. Other instructors include that of the Sarah Lawrence staff, as well as some of their graduate students. 

  • Eligibility: Students entering 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade (must be over the age of 14)
  • Cost:
    • On-campus session: $1,550, includes lunch (limited scholarships are available to Yonkers Public School students)
    • Virtual: $1,025
  • Application deadline: Applications will open in late February of 2024 for the August and July sessions
  • Camp dates:
    •  July Session (Virtual): July 15–July 19, 2024
    • August Session (On Campus): August 5–August 9, 2024
  • Location: Bronxville, New York or virtual

Also see: Top writing summer programs for high school students

2. Indiana University Kelley Women’s Leadership Institute

The Kelley Women’s Leadership Institute program introduces young women to business career opportunities through workshops taught by Kelley School of Business faculty at Indiana University. Areas of study include international business, entrepreneurship, finance, and more. The program is open to female students in their sophomore and junior year of high school. There are several program dates for the virtual and in-person sessions of this program. This program is funded by the Kelley School of Business, but students are expected to cover their own transportation, housing, and personal expenses. 

  • Eligibility: Current sophomores and juniors in high school with a GPA of 3.5 or higher on a 4.0 scale
  • Cost: Free
  • Application deadline: There are several camp dates for this program, which means there are several application deadlines, each deadline is about a month before the program begins
  • Camp dates: Several dates between March and November
  • Location: Bloomington, Indiana

Related: Top theater summer programs for high school students

3. Ohio Pre-College Summer Arts Programs

The Pre-College Summer Arts Programs at Ohio University are a series of summer workshops that provide opportunities for high school students to get on campus and dive into their passions in the arts. These workshops include, but are not limited to, dance, music, art and design, film, theater, and much more. Each workshop is a week long and includes a residential stay on campus, can be a great opportunity to meet other students in your prospective major, and can be a great resume building experience. 

  • Eligibility: Students aged 14-18 (must be 16+ to enroll in the dance program)
  • Cost: Program costs range between $375 – $1,490 depending on the program you choose and if you stay on campus (financial aid or merit scholarships available to those who qualify)
  • Application deadline: Applications open January 22, 2024, though a deadline is not specified on the website
  • Camp dates: Varies depending on program
    • June 10th – June 21st, 2024
    • June 17th – June 22nd, 2024
  • Location: Athens, Ohio

Also see: Top 10 summer art programs for high school students

4. Georgia Tech Pre-College Design Program

The Georgia Tech Pre-College Design Program is a two-week in-person program for students to build skills needed for careers in the field of design. The Building Construction program exists to show that there can be more to a degree in construction than just construction sites– it can teach skills in emerging technologies, project management, and provide career opportunities outside of the field. They also offer full and partial program scholarships to students with financial need. 

  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors
  • Cost: $2,300 and a deposit of $250 (full and partial scholarships are available)
  • Application deadline: Until program is full
  • Camp dates: Varies depending on session
    • Session I: June 17th – 27th, 2024, check in date June 16th, 2024
    • Session II: July 8th – July 18th, 2024, check in date July 7th, 2024
  • Location: Atlanta, Georgia

5. Virtual Architecture Summer Camp Academy

The University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee’s School of Architecture and Urban Planning offers the Virtual Architecture Summer Camp Academy fully online in recent years in light of the pandemic. This is an opportunity for dedicated high school students with interest in the field of architecture to expand their knowledge and skill set on topics such as architecture, design, and 3D design technologies. Students will learn to utilize models, drawings, text, and verbal presentation to present their findings. 

  • Eligibility: 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th grade high school students, as well as recent high school graduates
  • Cost: $550
  • Application deadline: Until program is full
  • Camp dates: August 5th – August 9th, 2024
  • Location: Online

6. Rensselaer Summer Architecture Career Discovery Program

At the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute high school two week architectural program, rising high school juniors and seniors have the opportunity to participate in an immersive learning experience to expose students to what a high level collegiate architectural program looks like. Students can choose between the in-person or online two-week program. The first week of the camp focuses on studio work, where students will participate in lectures, presentations and projects, whereas the second week of the program is all about utilizing the computer as a design tool. 

  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors
  • Cost: $1,300 
  • Application deadline: Rolling applications on a first come first serve basis
  • Camp dates:
    • In-person program: July 8-19, 2024
    • Online Program: July 22-August 2, 2024
  • Location: Troy, New York or virtual

7. Drexel University Entrepreneurship Summer Institutes

The Drexel University Entrepreneurship Summer Institutes are a great opportunity for students who are interested in learning more about how to create entrepreneurial solutions to the world’s problems. Students will have the chance to get hands-on in the field and hear from important leaders in the field. The finale of this camp is a pitch project presentation where students can present their work to their family and friends at the conclusion of the week. 

  • Eligibility: Rising high school juniors and seniors
  • Cost: $500
  • Application deadline: Usually the 3rd week of June
  • Camp dates:
    • In-person program: Usually the 3rd week of July
  • Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

8. University of Colorado Boulder LYNX Arts Camps

The LYNX Arts Camps at the University of Colorado Boulder are meant for students who want to learn more about the arts. Their programs cover topics ranging from photography to comic book character design and more. Programs range in length from one week to two weeks and all take place in person on campus, which means some will be commuter camps and others will be residential. 

  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Cost: $600 – $2,500 depending on the program you choose
  • Application deadline: Priority deadline is March 15th, regular deadline is May 15th
  • Camp dates:
    • Session I: June 10th, 2024 – June 14th, 2024
    • Session II: June 26th, 2024 – June 28th, 2024
    • Session III: July 14th, 2024 – July 26th, 2024
  • Location: Boulder, Colorado

9. Wake Forest Health and Wellbeing Institute

For many students interested in going into the field of public health, it can be difficult to find opportunities to get involved in the field in high school. However, Wake Forest offers an immersive experience for students to experience being on campus while learning about topics such as nutrition, movement, mindfulness, and the public health career field. Students will also be able to tour the grounds of the campus, hear from multiple panels of both students and experts, and attend occupational and financial workshops. Students can choose from over nineteen institutes, that all offer different areas of interest, to spend their week focused on. 

  • Eligibility: Current 9th – 12th grade high school students
  • Cost: Varies by program (Need-based scholarships are awarded on a first-come, first-served basis)
  • Application deadline: Rolling deadline
  • Camp dates: There are six camp sessions during which the nineteen institutes run their camps, which means you should identify your area of interest and then see what weeks you can attend for that area
  • Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Related: Top STEM summer programs for high school students

10. Dartmouth College: Creativity, Innovation, and Design

The Introduction to Design Thinking summer course at Dartmouth College is an online, asynchronous program that helps to immerse high school students in an environment that will equip them with the skills to creatively tackle complicated problems in the real world. Students have the opportunity to work with distinguished Dartmouth instructors from the comfort of wherever they choose to attend the workshop from. The information being taught in this course is straight from an actual course taught at Dartmouth. The material is made easier to understand for novice learners, but still is at a collegiate level. The information below is from the summer 2023 sessions. Information for the summer 2024 sessions will be available in the spring of 2024.

  • Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors
  • Cost: $750 (a small number of scholarships are available)
  • Application deadline: Rolling admission
  • Camp dates:
    • Session One: Usually the first week of August
    • Session Two: Usually the second week of August
  • Location: Virtual

Related: Top engineering summer programs for high school students

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Frequently asked questions about summer programs for high school students

Are there scholarships available for summer programs?

Yes, scholarships are likely a possibility for many of these programs! The best place to check for scholarships is with the program you are applying to directly. Many programs may offer scholarships, or at least some sort of financial aid to students. All of these programs know that their students will come from a vast array of financial situations. So, don’t let finances keep you from applying, you never know what financial opportunities may open up!

What summer programs look best for college?

What looks best to each college will vary. Completing a summer STEM program at a college may look much more appealing if you’re applying to a school where you plan to pursue a STEM major than if you were applying to a liberal arts college for an English degree. However, that doesn’t mean that the programs you complete have to be what you plan to go to college for. Completing a summer program may be a great way to explore an area you’re unsure about and gain some clarity about it.

Are summer programs worth it?

Yes! Like we mentioned in the question above, summer programs can be a great way to learn about yourself and what you want to study in college! Not to mention that it can be a great way to see different college campuses, potentially spend some time far from home to see how it feels and make friends along the way!

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