You may think summer school is only for students who need to take required makeup classes. But many students choose to take part in special summer learning programs to:
Taking part in a summer program is also a plus on college applications; it shows colleges that you’re committed to learning.
Creative writing, 3-D game design, language immersion — you can find summer programs in these subjects and many others.
Summer learning programs are available in just about every area of study, from the arts and sciences to languages and athletics. They may be offered at colleges, museums, performing-arts centers and recreation centers.
You can find residential programs, where you live in housing with other students, as well as classes you can commute to. So if you don’t want to leave home, you can still take part in a summer program.
Here are examples of summer programs for high school students:
Private summer programs can be expensive, but some offer scholarships or financial aid. Talk to your school counselor if you find a program you are really interested in that’s outside your price range.
You can also look into these federally funded programs, which are free or relatively inexpensive:
For the best options, start looking into summer programs during the winter before you want to attend. Many programs have March deadlines and a limited number of spaces. And some programs ask for application materials that require planning.
Here’s how to begin:
If your goal is to gain experience and learn new skills, remember that interning or holding a summer job can be just as valuable as taking part in a summer learning program.
Ian, a high school junior, went to a marine-science summer camp on an island off the coast of Maine, where he went snorkeling. “On a rock in about 12 feet of clear water was a starfish the size of a medium pizza,” he recalls. “The discoveries of treasures like these made the camp so incredible.”
Marcus, a high school senior, explored fiction writing and Italian at a university. “I was interested in both subjects and neither was offered at my high school,” he says. Through the program, he gained confidence and eased his “fears about surviving in a college classroom.”
Soni, a high school senior, got “a taste of college life” through a summer journalism program at a university. She lived in the dorms, ate in the dining hall and did her own laundry. Most important, she says, “attending this program made me realize that journalism is what I truly want to do with my life.”