The Best Summer Programs for High School Students

March 13, 2024
5 min read

Are you looking for the best summer programs for high school students? Look no further. 

If you're a high school student looking to make the most of your break, consider attending a summer program. They’re designed to offer enriching experiences that go beyond the classroom. 

Summer programs provide the perfect platform for personal growth and academic advancement, from exploring new interests to developing valuable skills. If you want to level up, consider adding summer programs to your 4-year high school plan.

Many top summer programs for high school students are available in various fields, providing opportunities to learn from experts and connect with like-minded peers. Summer programs can offer insights into specific industries or careers, paving the way for practical experiences and networking opportunities. Let’s take a look at some. 

The Best Summer Programs for High School Students

Whether you're interested in exploring your passion for science, the arts, or leadership, we have curated a list of summer programs to look out for.

Research and STEM Programs

When it comes to Research and STEM summer programs for high school students, the options are vast. Let's explore a handful of the best programs available and what they offer.

MIT Research Science Institute (RSI)

MIT Research Science Institute (RSI) is top-notch, known for its intense academic focus and emphasis on scientific research. You'll dive into challenging projects guided by MIT faculty and mentors, getting hands-on experience and honing your critical thinking skills. It's a chance to delve into scientific inquiry, surrounded by a vibrant community of intellects.

Simons Summer Research Program

The Simons Summer Research Program is fantastic for high school students because it centers on research and mentorship. It gives students the chance to collaborate with top scientists and dive into cutting-edge research projects.

By immersing themselves in a real-world research setting, students develop critical thinking skills, get hands-on experience, and make meaningful contributions to scientific progress. Plus, it ignites their passion for science and sets them up for future academic and research pursuits.

Garcia Scholars Program

The Garcia Scholars Program is a top choice for high school students, focusing on research and STEM fields. With hands-on projects and expert guidance, students gain crucial experience, sharpen critical thinking, and deepen their STEM knowledge. This immersive experience sets students up for success in future academic and career paths in the scientific realm.

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF)

The Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) stands out as one of the top summer programs for high school students. It gives young scientists and innovators a chance to present their research and compete worldwide.

ISEF offers students invaluable opportunities to dive into innovative scientific projects, collaborate with peers, and gain recognition for their efforts. Joining ISEF can ignite a passion for scientific inquiry, hone critical thinking skills, and pave the way for future academic and professional paths.

NASA High School Internship Program

The NASA High School Internship Program offers high school students a unique opportunity to work alongside leading scientists and engineers at NASA. Participants gain hands-on experience, contribute to real-world projects, and immerse themselves in cutting-edge research. 

The program offers invaluable insights into aerospace and fosters a passion for STEM fields, inspiring students to pursue future careers in science and engineering.

Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program

The Jackson Laboratory Summer Student Program has immersive and hands-on research experience in genetics and biomedical science. 

Students can work alongside leading scientists, gain valuable laboratory skills, conduct experiments, and contribute to cutting-edge research. This program offers a unique chance for students to explore their interest in science, develop critical thinking skills, and ignite their passion for scientific inquiry.

Amgen Scholars Program

The Amgen Scholars Program is an excellent summer program for high school students. It offers an immersive research experience in biotechnology. Students can work closely with top scientists, participate in cutting-edge research projects, and gain hands-on laboratory experience. 

The program fosters intellectual growth, cultivates scientific skills, and provides invaluable insights into  scientific research, setting students on a path toward a successful career in biotechnology.

Clark Scholars Program

The Clark Scholars Program offers a unique opportunity for students to engage in cutting-edge scientific research projects under the guidance of expert mentors. 

This program allows students to develop their research skills, explore their scientific interests, and gain hands-on experience in a supportive and intellectually stimulating environment. The Clark Scholars Program provides a platform for students to challenge themselves, expand their knowledge, and pave the way for future academic and career success.

These are just a glimpse of the incredible Research and STEM summer programs available for high school students. Whether you are passionate about scientific exploration or  interested in technology and innovation, these programs provide the perfect platform to fuel your curiosity and expand your knowledge.

Leadership and Entrepreneurship Programs

Explore the exciting world of Leadership and Entrepreneurship Programs, where you can chart your  path toward success. T​​hese exceptional summer programs for high school students offer a unique opportunity to explore and develop the skills and mindset needed to excel in these dynamic fields. 

Stanford University Pre-Collegiate Studies

Stanford University Pre-Collegiate Studies is an outstanding opportunity for high school students to dive into college life and rigorous academics. It's among California's top summer programs.

Featuring diverse courses, students can delve into their interests, push their limits, and get a taste of Stanford's atmosphere. The program boasts top faculty, cutting-edge facilities, and a vibrant learning community.

In this immersive environment, students acquire valuable knowledge, skills, and a peek into higher education.

Yale Young Global Scholars

Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS)  brings together bright and motivated high school students worldwide. 

With diverse courses and a focus on interdisciplinary learning, YYGS offers a unique opportunity to engage in rigorous academic study, collaborate with peers, and develop a global perspective. 

Students participate in seminars, workshops, and team projects led by Yale faculty and experts in their fields. This immersive experience fosters intellectual growth, cross-cultural understanding, and lifelong connections. YYGS is a transformative experience that prepares students to become global leaders and changemakers.

Harvard Pre-College Program

The Harvard Pre-College Program gives high school students a unique opportunity to experience college life at one of the world's most prestigious universities. 

With many courses available, students can explore their academic interests and better understand their chosen fields. Through rigorous coursework, engaging discussions, and vibrant campus life, participants develop critical thinking, communication, and leadership skills. 

This immersive program offers a transformative experience that prepares students for the challenges and rigors of college while fostering personal growth and intellectual development.

Leadership in the Business World (LBW) - The Wharton School

Leadership in the Business World (LBW) at The Wharton School is one of the best summer programs for high school students interested in exploring leadership and business. 

Through interactive lectures, group projects, and hands-on simulations, LBW provides a comprehensive understanding of business principles, teamwork, and decision-making. 

Students engage with renowned faculty and industry professionals, gaining insights into real-world business challenges. 

LBW equips participants with invaluable skills, fosters their leadership potential, and exposes them to the vibrant business environment of The Wharton School. 

Envision's Youth Leadership Summit

Envision's Experiences offers a range of programs designed to empower high school students with the skills and knowledge they need to become confident leaders. 

Through immersive workshops, thought-provoking guest speakers, and hands-on simulations, students engage in an enriching experience that enhances their leadership abilities. The summit offers valuable opportunities for networking with peers and industry professionals, fostering connections that can last a lifetime. 

Focusing on personal growth and social impact, the Youth Leadership Summit equips students with the tools and mindset to create positive change in their communities and make a lasting impact.

National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC)

The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) is a prestigious program designed to empower high school students by cultivating leadership skills and  positively influencing  their communities. 

With a strong emphasis on leadership development, NSLC offers immersive experiences in various fields like business, medicine, engineering, and more. Through interactive simulations, workshops, and expert-led discussions, students gain invaluable skills, knowledge, and connections. 

NSLC provides a transformative journey that equips students with the confidence and tools necessary to excel as future leaders in their chosen paths.

Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

The Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program is a game-changer for young women interested in coding and technology. This renowned program provides a supportive and inclusive environment where girls can learn programming languages, build projects, and explore various aspects of computer science. 

With hands-on experience, mentorship opportunities, and exposure to industry professionals, participants gain valuable skills and confidence. The program aims to bridge the gender gap in the tech industry by empowering girls to pursue careers in STEM. 

This immersive program allows girls to unlock their potential and become future technology leaders.

Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)

Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG)  is one of the top summer programs for high school students designed for intellectually curious and talented individuals. With a focus on advanced academics, creative thinking, and social engagement, SIG provides a stimulating and supportive environment. 

Students are encouraged to explore their passions and expand their knowledge through diverse courses and enrichment activities. Led by experienced educators and professionals, SIG fosters critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and collaboration. 

With a commitment to nurturing gifted learners, SIG offers a transformative summer experience that empowers students to reach their full potential.

United States Naval Academy Summer Programs

The United States Naval Academy Summer Programs offer an incredible opportunity for high school students to experience life at one of the most prestigious military institutions. These programs provide a glimpse into the rigorous academic and physical training that midshipmen undergo. 

Participants engage in hands-on activities, leadership development, and team-building exercises. They also have the chance to interact with faculty, staff, and current midshipmen. 

Whether interested in STEM, leadership, or military service, these programs provide a unique and immersive experience that can shape future aspirations and foster a deeper understanding of naval life.

Bank of America Student Leaders Program

The Bank of America Student Leaders Program is a prestigious opportunity for high school students to develop leadership skills, gain valuable work experience, and positively impact their communities. 

Selected students participate in an eight-week paid internship at a local nonprofit organization,  engaging in meaningful projects and receiving mentorship from Bank of America professionals. 

Students attend a week-long leadership summit in Washington, D.C.,  connecting with peers nationwide and engaging in workshops and activities focused on leadership development. This program empowers young leaders to make a difference and prepares them for success.

Arts and Creative Programs

Spark your creativity and dive into the world of Arts and Creative Programs! These summer programs for high school students open doors to explore various artistic disciplines, nurture your talents, and expand your creative horizons. 

This section explores top summer programs for high school students that provide unique opportunities for self-expression, artistic exploration, and personal growth. 

Interlochen Center for the Arts

Interlochen Center for the Arts is a renowned institution that provides exceptional artistic education and immersive experiences for aspiring artists. Located in Michigan, Interlochen offers summer programs and year-round  music, dance, theater, visual arts, and creative writing opportunities.

With world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities, students can refine their skills, collaborate with fellow artists, and showcase their talents. 

Whether it's through intensive training, performances, or exhibitions, Interlochen nurtures creativity, fosters artistic growth, and creates a vibrant community of passionate artists. It's a transformative place where artistic excellence thrives.

New York Film Academy Summer Camps

Immerse yourself in filmmaking and ignite your passion for storytelling with New York Film Academy Summer Camps

These exceptional camps offer hands-on experience in the heart of the entertainment industry, allowing aspiring filmmakers to learn from industry professionals and gain practical skills in directing, screenwriting, cinematography, and more.

From script to screen, students will collaborate on projects, hone their craft, and create short films. With state-of-the-art facilities and a dynamic learning environment, New York Film Academy Summer Camps are the perfect launchpad for a future in the film industry.

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Summer Programs

Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) Summer Programs offer an exceptional opportunity for high school students to immerse themselves in art and design. 

With various courses and workshops, SCAD provides a nurturing environment to explore various artistic disciplines, including animation, fashion, photography, and more. Students learn from experienced faculty, work with state-of-the-art facilities, and engage in hands-on projects. 

SCAD Summer Programs empower students to develop their artistic skills, expand their creative perspectives, and prepare for future studies and careers in the art and design industry.

Berklee College of Music Summer Programs

Berklee College of Music Summer Programs offer aspiring musicians an exceptional opportunity to immerse themselves in a world of music. 

With various programs tailored to musical interests and skill levels, Berklee provides a nurturing environment for students to learn from renowned faculty, collaborate with like-minded peers, and refine their musical abilities. 

From intensive music theory and performance workshops to songwriting and production courses, Berklee Summer Programs provide an unforgettable experience that fosters creativity, cultivates talent, and prepares students for a successful musical journey.

Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Pre-College Programs

The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) Pre-college Programs provide a fantastic opportunity for high school students passionate about the fashion industry. With diverse courses and workshops, FIT offers hands-on experiences in fashion design, styling, merchandising, and more.

Students learn from industry professionals, gain valuable insights into the fashion world, and develop creative skills. Whether you dream of becoming a fashion designer or exploring the business side, FIT Precollege Programs can be a stepping stone toward your fashion aspirations.

California College of the Arts Pre-College Program

The California College of the Arts (CCA) Pre-College Program is an immersive experience for high school students interested in art and design. This program offers a unique opportunity to explore various artistic disciplines, including fine arts, design, architecture, and more. 

With access to state-of-the-art facilities and guidance from experienced faculty, students can develop their artistic skills, build their portfolios, and gain a deeper understanding of the creative process. The program also includes workshops, guest lectures, and field trips to art institutions, providing a well-rounded experience. 

By participating in the CCA Pre-College Program, students can taste college life and make meaningful connections with peers who share their passion for art and design.

These are just a few examples of the many excellent summer programs available for high school students. Remember to research and explore each program to find the best fit for your interests and goals.

Why Attend a Summer Program?

Summer programs are a valuable experience for high school students. These programs offer a chance to go beyond traditional classroom learning and engage in hands-on, immersive activities. Keep reading to learn  why high school students should consider attending a summer program. 

Academic Enrichment

Summer programs often offer specialized courses or academic opportunities beyond the regular high school curriculum. They provide a chance to delve into subjects of interest, explore new areas, and gain in-depth knowledge.

Skill Development

Many summer programs focus on developing leadership, critical thinking, problem-solving, research, and artistic abilities. Students can enhance their abilities and gain valuable skills that benefit them personally, academically, and professionally.

College Preparation

Some summer programs offer college preparation components, including SAT/ACT  preparation, college essay writing workshops, and guidance on the college application process. Participating in summer programs before college can be a game-changer, setting you up for success in numerous ways.

Exposure to New Fields and Career Paths

Summer programs often expose students to various fields, industries, or career paths they may not have considered before. This exposure can help them explore their interests, passions, and potential career options, assisting them in making informed decisions about their future.

Personal Growth and Confidence Building

Summer programs offer a nurturing and immersive setting that fosters personal growth and boosts confidence in students. In these programs, students can break free from their comfort zones, embrace challenges, and cultivate essential life skills like effective communication, collaboration, and adaptability. 

By participating in these programs, students combat potential summer slide and develop independence, forge new friendships, and gain the self-assurance needed to thrive.

Networking Opportunities

Summer programs create an inclusive environment where talented and motivated students from diverse backgrounds come together, fostering valuable networking opportunities. 

The top summer programs for high school students help students establish connections with peers, mentors, and professionals across various fields. These connections can pave the way for future collaborations and open doors to exciting career prospects.

Attending a summer program can be a transformative experience, fostering personal and academic growth, expanding horizons, and preparing students for future success.

FAQs: Top Summer Programs for High School Students

Curious to learn more about the best summer programs for high school students? Find answers to your burning questions in our comprehensive FAQ section.

1. What Summer Programs Look Best for College?

Summer programs that look best for college align with your interests and future goals. Programs offering hands-on experience, research opportunities, leadership development, and connections with industry professionals are highly valued.

 Choose programs that highlight your passion, dedication, and academic challenge. The best summer programs for college applications demonstrate your commitment to personal growth and intellectual exploration.

2. Do Universities Look at Summer School Marks?

Yes, universities  consider summer school marks as part of the overall academic profile of a student. While the weight given to summer school grades may vary among institutions, they can still hold significance in the admissions process. 

It is important to perform well and demonstrate academic growth during summer programs. It can demonstrate your commitment to learning and your ability to handle rigorous coursework outside of the regular academic year.

3. What Is the Hardest Summer Program to Get Into?

While the competitiveness of the top summer programs for high school students can vary, some of the hardest programs to get into are the Research Science Institute (RSI), Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP), and the California State Summer School for Mathematics and Science (COSMOS). 

These programs attract top-notch students worldwide, making the application process highly competitive. However, it's important to note that admission criteria and difficulty vary each year, so it's always a good idea to research and apply to multiple programs that align with your interests and goals.

Final Thoughts

The world of summer programs for high school students is filled with possibilities. Whether you have a passion for research and STEM, a drive for leadership and entrepreneurship, or a flair for the arts and creativity, there’s a program for you.

These programs offer a valuable opportunity to expand your knowledge, develop essential skills, and make lifelong connections with like-minded peers and mentors. Take the leap and seize the opportunity to make this summer one to remember. 

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