Summer Academics and Enrichment
National Pre-College Programs for High School Students

[Updated: 9.10.13]

For years, colleges and universities nationwide have offered a large selction of summer courses for academically ambitious high school students, sometimes for college credit. It's a source of revenue for colleges and universities (typically private) and a chance for high school students to take courses they'd never find in their high schools and to taste of college life and academic demands. You can find these pre-college summer programs on the nation's most prestigious campuses (e.g., Harvard, Stanford, Univeristy of Chicago, Boston University) along with smaller private colleges (e.g., Colorado College). If you want to investigate these possibilities, simply type the name of the college or university that interests you into Google Search, along with the phrase "summer programs for high school students." If you want to see what's available close to home, enter the name of a local colleges and university, along with the phrase "summer programs for high school students." These local searches will often turn up special summer on-campus opportunities for low income and minority studens, for example in relation to subjects like engineering or leadership development.

High school students who meet federal poverty guidelines have long had the opportunity to polish academics and experience college life through the federally-funded Upward Bound (UB) program. There is no national directory of Upward Bound programs, alas. Here, the best search tip is to type in the name of the city or region where you live, followed by the phrase "Upward Bound." If there is a UB program in your city/area, it will come up.

Here we provide a list of national programs, almost all located on college or universty campuses, that offer special summer programs for high school students (e.g., in the arts, engineering, journalism)—some of which target females, minorities, and low income students.The programs targeting females are in PINK; minorites are in GREEN; low income are in ORANGE. Financial aid is often available for programs not taregeted specifically at low-income or minority students; it varies from program-to-program.

We hasten to add that this directory is far from complete, but includes some of the best-known programs. The guidance office at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri deserves credit for the list (which we found online and revised).

CLICK HERE for WKCD's directory of programs that combine student abroad, community service, and advencture.

Alfred University: Institute for Women Leaders of Tomorrow
For rising female sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

American University School of Communication
Hands-on experience in communication for high school students. Programs in journalism, film, photography, and communication. One- to four-week programs.

American University
Running Start encourages high school girls from across the country to channel their leadership into politics. Free of charge and travel scholarships are available.

ASA Summerfuel Pre-college and Cultural Immersion Programs
Pre-college programs at UMass/Amherst, UC/Berkeley, Oxford and Cambridge Universities: College Admissions Prep at Columbia, Tufts, UC/Berkeley.

Bard College Institute for Writing and Thinking
Three-week writing and thinking workshops offered at Bard College at Simonís Rock, Lewis and Clark College, Lake Forest College.

Barnard Pre-college Program
One- and four-week coed liberal arts program; one-week Young Womenís Leadership Institute.

Boston University Summer Term
Six-week high school honors program offering college credit courses and scientific research projects. Two-week summer challenge program to preview college life and coursework.

Brandeis BIMA Summer Arts Program
Arts program with a Jewish focus for students finishing grades 9-11.

Career Explorations
Summer internships in various careers (including architecture, fashion, medicine). Four- and six-week programs.

CDC Disease Detective Camp (DDC)
Free. Campers take on the roles of disease detectives and learn how CDC safeguards the national health.

Carleton Liberal Arts Experience
The Carleton Liberal Arts Experience (CLAE) selects 50 high school students who just completed their sophomore year and brings them to Carleton, all expenses paid, for a one-week summer program. The CLAE program introduces the strengths of a liberal arts education through an array of courses in science, art, social sciences, and technology.

Civic Leadership Institute (Northwestern University & Johns Hopkins University)
Three-week summer service-learning programs for outstanding high school students completing grades 9 through 12 in Chicago, Baltimore & San Francisco. CLI combines hands-on education, meaningful service, powerful speakers and seminars and an unforgettable residential experience for a summer that students often describe as “life-changing.”

Cornell Catalyst Program
Summer residential program for high school students from severely underrepresented groups who excel in math and science and want to learn more about careers in engineering.

Cornell Curie Academy
One-week residential pre-engineering program for current sophomore or junior girls who excel in math.

Crow Canyon Archeological Center
Three-week high school archaeology field school at Mesa Verde National Park, targeted at students with a strong interest in college study and career exploration; high school or college credit are available. Scholarships available for American-Indian students.

Junior Statesmen Summer School
Three- and four-week summer courses at Georgetown, Stanford, Princeton, or Yale for rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have a passionate interest in politics, government and current events.

Michigan Math and Science Scholars Program
Two two-week sessions feature small, intense math and science courses.

MIT: MITES (Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science)
Six-week program that prepares promising rising seniors for careers in engineering and science.

Morehouse Summer Institute (Project Identity)
Coca-Cola Pre-College Leadership Program. The curriculum focuses on personal and interpersonal leadership skills.

National Space Club Scholars Program
The National Space Club Scholars Project is a summer intern experience for up to 30 high school students who have demonstrated high academic success, and have an interest in space science or engineering as a career. The project is conducted for six weeks each summer, from late June until early August.

National Student Leadership Conference
For over 20 years, a select group of student leaders from across the United States and more than 70 countries have come to the NSLC, which provides an innovative and challenging learning environment through hands-on simulations and workshops in conjunction with some of the nationís premier colleges and universities.

Northwestern University School of Communications Summer Programs for High School Students
Programs in film and video, speech, theatre arts, and policy debate.

Notre Dame Seminars
African American Scholars, Latino Community Leadership Seminar, Global Issues Seminar.

Princeton University
Summer Journalism Program for low income sophomores or juniors with at least a 3.5 GPA. Cost is free including travel.

QuestBridge is a non-profit organization that has worked since 1994 to connect bright, motivated low-income students with educational and scholarship opportunities at some of the nation's best colleges and universities. The QuestBridge college application process is the national expansion of an eight-year QuestLeadership Program which helped students gain admissions to top colleges as well as helping them through college and into their first jobs, graduate schools, and professional experiences.

Sarah Lawrence College Summer Program
Three- and six-week courses in writing, film, visual arts, and music, and a six-week program composed of three two-week courses in history, theatre, and literature. Filmmaking intensive available to current juniors and seniors.

School of the Museum of Fine Arts (Boston) Pre-college Summer Studio
Six-week program offering rotations in painting, drawing, printmaking, sculpture, video, digital photography and sound art.

Summer Discovery Pre-college Enrichment for High School Students
Programs at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, UC San Diego, Michigan, Georgetown, Northeastern U., Cambridge, and various locations in Spain and Italy.

Syracuse University Summer College
Six-week, credit-bearing courses, and two week, non- credit programs in art and music.

University of Maryland, College Park: Women in Engineering
A collection of one-week summer programs and one-day academies for female high school students who are considering engineering as a possible major and career.

University of Maryland Young Scholars Program
Targets rising juniors and seniors who have a strong academic record and a desire to excel to experience college life.

The University of Tulsa Summer Residential Camps in Screenwriting and Filmmaking
For high school students, from entering freshmen to graduating seniors.

Vanderbilt University Pre-College P.A.V.E. Program
Six-week course designed to strengthen the academic skills of students who are planning to enter a college engineering, pre-med, science, or technology program.

Wesleyan Center for Creative Youth
Summer arts residency for students entering 10th-12th grades, includes concentrations in theatre, musical theatre, technical theatre, music (instrumental or vocal), dance, creative writing, filmmaking, visual arts, and photography.

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“There’s a radical—and wonderful—new idea here… that all children could and should be inventors of their own theories, critics of other people’s ideas, analyzers of evidence, and makers of their own personal marks on the world.”

– Deborah Meier, educator