If you’re a teenager aiming for a top college, believe it or not, it’s time to plan for summer. Competitive colleges expect much more than excellent grades and test scores. That means it’s essential for teens to develop their interests with a focused and in depth approach through summer and extracurricular activities, starting in the summer after ninth grade.
“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.” — Henry David Thoreau
To help students and their parents choose among the many options, I’ve gathered a list of some of our favorite programs and provided information on each one. I’ve also included other profile-building opportunities that take place during the academic year, in case your teenager has some extra time.
If you’d like to take a deeper dive into summer programs for your teenager, or create a 3-4 year plan of summer enrichment and advancement, sign up for my one-on-one Extracurricular Coaching Package.
Let’s get ready for summer:
- University of Chicago Summer Session – Priority Deadline: Jan. 20 | Regular Deadline: Feb. 24
- Georgetown Academies – Priority Deadline: Feb. 1 (no application fee)
- Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference – Regular Decision: Feb. 1
- Carnegie Mellon Pre-College – Preferred Registration Deadline: Feb. 10
- AMIGOS Community Impact Project – Feb. 16
- Notre Dame Pre-College: Global Scholars Program Deadline – Feb. 1 | Summer Scholars Deadline: Feb. 16 | Summer Scholars Online Deadline: Feb. 16
- COSMOS – Feb. 19
- California State Summer School for Arts (CSSSA) – Feb. 26
Summer & Extracurricular Activities
University of Chicago Summer Session
Priority Deadline: Jan.20
Regular Deadline: Feb. 24
Immerse yourself in one of your passions and take advantage of the rich educational resources offered by the University through our summer Immersion programs for high school students. You will get personalized attention from faculty, researchers, and other professionals who will lead you through workshop discussions, research projects, and other activities.
Priority Deadline: Feb. 1
Our 1-Week, 2-Week, and 3-Week Academies will take you on a virtual accelerated learning experience. You’ll examine a single subject area through collaborative online exercises and simulations, group discussions and virtual presentations from industry leaders.
Sewanee Young Writers Conference
Deadline: Feb. 1
High school students can enjoy workshops in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction during this residential summer program. Other highlights include lectures by the university’s English faculty.
Deadline: Feb. 7
COSMOS is an intensive 4-week summer program for talented and motivated students completing grades 8-12. Students will have the opportunity to work with faculty, researchers and scientists while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools.
Deadline: Applications are open from December 15, 2020 to April 15, 2021. The application fee is $50 and $75 from February 1st on. You can learn more here.
Each summer, hundreds of young women from all around the world come to Barnard’s campus ready to learn and grow with a community of like minded women. Whether your passion is STEM, art, entrepreneurship, writing, or activism, Barnard has a summer institute for you.
Deadline: Registration for summer 2021 opens January 13, 2021. Registration for the two-week online courses will be on a rolling basis until courses are filled. Students may attend up to four different programs, but may not be enrolled in more than one, two-week program at the same time. Students must be at least 14 years old at the time the program begins to participate.
BCE is offering 12 different two-week, non-credit online programs this summer covering areas such as business and leadership, economics, nonprofit management for social justice, intro to psych and applied neuroscience, college and creative writing and arts and history. The two week programs are open to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors and will run multiple times over an eight-week span.
Brown Summer Program
Applications are open from December 15, 2020 to April 15, 2021. The application fee is $50 and $75 from February 1st on. You can learn more here.
Choose from more than 200 non-credit courses reflecting the wide range of Brown University’s Open Curriculum that challenge you with new perspectives on how you work, how you learn, and how you live.
Carnegie Mellon Pre-College
Preferred Registration Deadline February 10, 2021
Application Deadline: March 17, 2021
Learn more about the application process here
Our Pre-College program, which mirrors the undergraduate experience, gives rising juniors and seniors the opportunity to explore their interests while receiving instruction from acclaimed Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a robust student experience which is curated by Student Affairs staff and a team of residential staff who are current Carnegie Mellon students. Due to the ongoing considerations related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pre-College program will be offered only through remote instruction in the summer of 2021.
University of Chicago Summer Session
Priority Deadline: January 20, 2021
Regular Deadline: February 24, 2021
Extended Deadline: April 1, 2021
Learn more about the application process here
Immerse yourself in one of your passions and take advantage of the rich educational resources offered by the University through our summer Immersion programs for high school students. In these undergraduate-level courses, you will get personalized attention from faculty, researchers, and other professionals who will lead you through workshop discussions, research projects, and other activities.
We invite prospective UChicago Summer Session pre-college students and parents to attend a virtual Information Session about our Summer 2021 programs, which will be delivered via the remote teaching model in response to the continued COVID-19 outbreak. Presenters at the Information Sessions will provide an overview of online curriculum and instructional models, online community building, and technology issues.
The Information Sessions will be held during the following dates and times:
- Register here: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 – 7:00pm Central US time
- Register here: Saturday, February 6, 2021 – 11:00am Central US time
- Register here: Friday, March 5, 2021 – 7:00pm Central US time
All Information Sessions will cover the same information. A recording of the session will also be posted to our Summer 2021 website.
Early Registration Deadline: February 11, 2021
Regular Deadline: April 1, 2021
Learn more about the application process here
Participants select one curricular option per session for an in-depth examination of a specific subject area. Classes meet twice each day for two-hour sessions where students refine their academic skills through a variety of activities—class discussions, debates, simulations, individual and group projects, and more.Housing will not be available for Summer 2021. Students who are unable to commute to campus may wish to consider one of our online summer programs.
Duke’s Pre-College 3 Week Online Program
Session II Deadline: June 9, 2021
Session III Deadline: June 30, 2021
We invite you to choose from a selection of online, enrichment courses from across the curriculum. This year courses will incorporate the theme of “resilience in evolving times” and how academic communities at Duke and beyond embrace resilience through innovative ideas, research, and practices.Each course includes a series of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, Monday – Friday, with meeting times to fit your schedule. Join an active online learning community and participate in discussions, projects, and demonstrations that will enrich your summer. Connect with Duke University faculty, staff, and resources and do a deep dive into fascinating subject area content. Experience the academic rigor and legacy of Duke through our 3-Week Online Program!
Harvard Pre-College Program
Application for the two-week Pre-College Program is now open!
The Harvard Pre-College Program is an immersive, collaborative, and transformative experience. Alongside peers from around the world, you’ll thrive in a dynamic and supportive academic environment.
Medill Cherubs: Journalism Institute
Application deadline: March 15, 2021
Cherubs is more than a journalism camp. We immerse ourselves in media for five weeks. We study writing, reporting and editing for print, digital and broadcast. We take pictures, edit videos, and create websites and podcasts. We make lifelong friends. As our instructors say, “Welcome to the best summer of your life.”
Notre Dame Pre-College
Summer Scholars Deadline: February 16, 2021
Summer Scholars Online Deadline: February 16, 2021
Leadership Seminars Deadline: January 25, 2021
Study Abroad: Varies
Global Scholars Program Deadline: February 1, 2021
Notre Dame offers exceptional high school students a true college experience on campus, abroad, and virtually! Earn college credit through stimulating seminars, explore research with Notre Dame faculty, and live in a residence hall community.
UC Santa Barbara Summer Sessions
Research Mentorship Program (RMP) Deadline: March 15, 2021
Summer Research Academies (SRA) Deadline: April 15, 2021
UC Santa Barbara Summer Sessions offers a variety of Pre-College Programs that provide students with unique opportunities to earn college credit while in high school. The Research Mentorship Program and the Summer Research Academies allow participants to deep-dive into an interdisciplinary subject while discovering new knowledge through university-level research.
Yale Young Global Scholars
EA deadline is 11:59PM ET on November 10, 2020. RD deadline is 11:59pm ET on January 12, 2021. You can learn more about the application deadlines here.
YYGS is an academic enrichment program for outstanding high school students from around the world. Each summer, students from over 130 countries (including all 50 U.S. states) participate in one interdisciplinary, two-week session. Given that it is not possible to offer a globally represented campus experience, YYGS staff have worked hard to make our virtual program, YYGS Connect, a collaborative, engaging, and enriching experience. We encourage you to view the recording of our YYGS Connect webinar and visit our YouTube channel to hear more about the program directly from Yale faculty lecturers, Yale graduate and undergraduate instructors, and YYGS Connect alumni.
Blue Stamp Summer
Blue Stamp accepts applications under rolling admissions until all seats are filled. Please note that applicants are interviewed prior to receiving an admission decision. Since applicants are interviewed as their applications are received, we recommend that students apply as early as possible. Learn more here.
Hands-on engineering camp where high school students design and create technology projects, that they get to keep, from scratch! Past projects include omnidirectional robots, smart gardens, CNC drawing machines, and self-driving cars! Each student selects and builds their own individual projects and develops a personal online portfolio that details their journey.
Boston Leadership Institute
One-week programs do not require an application. They are open to students who perform at grade level or above.
Three-week programs are competitive and require students to fill out an application. We accept students on a rolling admissions basis. Both the parent and the student will receive an email informing the family of our decision within approximately 7-10 days’ time.
Boston Leadership Institute offers a variety of award-winning STEM programs for eighth-graders and above. It offers one-week and three-week programs in: Science, Engineering/Tech, Medicine, and Business.
Rosetta Biomedical Summer Camp
There is no application deadline, but students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible because suitable candidates are accepted on a rolling basis. Learn more here.
We provide advanced classes for high achieving high school/middle school students interested in pursuing a career in medicine or related fields, such as biomedical research, drug development, pharmacy or nursing.
Stanford Cardiovascular Internship
Application window is from January 4, 2021 to March 21, 2021
This summer internship is an elective course for high school students that will provide exposure to the steps in basic and advancedcardiothoracic surgery techniques (e.g., knot tying, dissection, suturing, coronary artery bypass graft, and cardiac valve replacement). Throughout this course, the emphasis is placed on interactive, hands-on learning.
Stanford EXPLORE Lecture Series
Online registration begins March 1st, 2021 and will continue until all slots for each week are filled. When the slots are filled, this will be noted on the homepage.
The Stanford Explore Lecture Series is an exploratory series covering the basic fundamentals and current research areas represented by the various research areas of the Stanford School of Medicine (Immunology, Neuroscience, Cardiovascular Medicine, Regenerative and Stem Cell Medicine, Cancer Biology, Bioengineering, Bioinformatics and Genetics). The lectures will be taught by Stanford Faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. We are planning to have a virtual zoom program for the summer of 2021.
Summer Stem Institute (SSI)
Early Action: January 15, 2021
Regular Decision: April 16, 2021
SSI is an international program that provides academically talented and highly motivated students the opportunity to learn through a data science and research bootcamp, a Masterclass lecture series, weekend challenges, and a mentored research project.
UCSC Science Internship Program
The application portal opens March 2 and the deadline is March 25 (5:00 pm PDT). For more information about the application process click here. UCSC faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers provide one-on-one mentoring of high-school interns in STEM fields. The research projects are real in that they are not made up just for the high-school students; instead students are inserted into existing research projects here at UCSC.
California State Summer School for the Arts
February 26, 2020 (6:00 pm PST)
CSSSA is a rigorous pre-professional training program in the visual and performing arts, creative writing, animation, and film for talented artists of high school age. CSSSA provides a supportive environment in which students hone acquired skills and explore new techniques and ideas for an intense and exciting learning experience.
Interlochen Arts Camp
Application Window: October 15 – Jan. 14.
Located in beautiful northwest Michigan, Interlochen Arts Camp offers summer programs for grades 3-12. Each summer, we welcome over 2,500 students from all over the world to study one of our seven arts areas: creative writing, dance, interdisciplinary arts, film and new media, music, theatre, and visual arts.
Columbia Academic Year Immersions
Spring 2021 Application Deadline: Dec. 14, 2020
Through the Academic Year Immersion program, high schoolers will prepare for the college experience through exploratory coursework and community activities over ten weekends.
Winter Break Program: Dec. 11, 2020
Spring Semester Program: Dec. 31, 2020
Applications are on a rolling basis – limited spots available.
AI Scholars Live Online is a 10 session program that exposes high school students to fundamental AI concepts and guides them to build a socially impactful project. Taught by our team of graduate students from Stanford University, students receive a personalized learning experience in small groups with a student-teacher ratio of 4:1.
Scholar Launch offers both one-on-one and small seminar format opportunities for students to engage in graduate-level learning and produce publishable or otherwise impactful work product under the tutelage of an instructor who has taught or led at one of the world’s pre-eminent learning centers.