Summer and Pre-College Programs (CollegeXpress)

Want to preview your dream school and improve your admission credentials this summer? Check out these summer programs for high school students at some of the country’s most selective colleges and universities. Because you can only binge watch so much Netflix in one summer.

12 Best Pre-College Programs

By Rebecca Rubin

As a high school student, it’s hard to know what colleges are looking for in their applicants. Officer positions in clubs and good grades in advanced-level classes are always a nice place to start, but it’s the students who go the extra mile (literally!) who tend to catch the eyes of admission officers.

Summer vacation can be a great time to get ahead, especially if you decide to attend an academic program. Whether you’re a business buff or a journalism junkie, there’s a summer program that can help you learn more about your future career field and develop connections for the future. It’s never too early to start racking up experiences for your resume, and summer programs are also an effective way for any high school student to get a taste of college living!

The programs listed below are held at universities in the top of their field. Check out some of the leading ranked programs in the country, broken up by area of interest!

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Vanderbilt Pre-College Programs

You don’t have to be out of high school to enjoy a Vanderbilt education. Vanderbilt offers a variety of programs to pre-college students, including:

Saturday Academy at Vanderbilt for the Young (SAVY)

Saturday Academy at Vanderbilt for the Young (SAVY) offers weekend enrichment classes for students in kindergarten through 7th grade.

Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach (CSO)

The Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach establishes partnerships between university scientists, K-12 educators and students, and the local and global science community and offers summer programs including GAS (Girls And Science) and BEST (Boys Exploring Science and Technology).

Vanderbilt Summer Academy

Vanderbilt Summer Academy serves the needs of highly gifted rising 8th through 12th grade students through a fast-paced academic enrichment program with residential living on the Vanderbilt campus.

Weekend Academy at Vanderbilt University (WAVU)

Weekend Academy at Vanderbilt University (WAVU) is an exciting two-day residential learning and social experience for gifted students currently in grades 7 through 10.

More Summer Programs at Vanderbilt:


Carnegie Mellon Summer Pre-College Programs


Jumpstart Your Future with Pre-College Summer Programs

Are you going to be a junior or senior in high school? If so, consider spending the summer in one of our six distinct Pre-College programs, from June 27-August 8. You can either explore architecture, art & design, drama, music or the National High School Game Academy to prepare yourself for study at the college level. Through our Advanced Placement/Early Admission program, you can take two challenging college courses in order to gain advanced placement and get a head start in college when you visit Carnegie Mellon.

Our Pre-College programs will show you what life at Carnegie Mellon is all about – from in the classroom to what’s happening on weekends. You’ll meet people from all over the world, be inspired by our world-renowned faculty, take part in the excitement of campus life and have the opportunity to explore the city of Pittsburgh.

To get a better idea of what Pre-College is all about, check out our media page, featuring students and professors from past summers and “like” us on Facebook.

See what life is like for a Pre-College Summer Program student at Carnegie Mellon! Also view the Pre-College Playlist which is broken down by program.


Georgia Tech Pre-College Programs


ECE Outreach: Pre-College Programs

The ECE Outreach Office coordinates several major programs for high school teachers and pre-college students of various ages, as well as tours of the School’s facilities and visits to metro Atlanta schools.

These activities are organized in partnerships with local public school systems and magnet programs, the Georgia Tech Admissions Office and other campus groups that also have K-12 outreach missions, and engineering and science professional societies.

Below is a list of programs led by ECE; please check back often for updates.

The following campus offices offer additional information about campus visits, information sessions, and other specialized programs at Georgia Tech:

Emory University Pre-College Programs

The Emory Pre-College Program is a summer academic program for high school students. It gives college-bound rising juniors and rising seniors an exciting glimpse of academic and residential life at a top-ranked national university. High school students may explore topics with professors who are the leading experts in their fields, enroll in classes with college students, and earn transferable college credit.Two-week non-credit courses, and six-week credit courses are available.  Emory Pre-College students live together in a dorm on campus or within commuting distance with their families and participate in a variety of programs, activities, and excursions designed to prepare them for college life.

Students will enjoy the beautiful, tree-lined Emory campus and its outstanding facilities, meet new people and make lifelong friends. Students come from all across the U.S. and the world. Ranked #20 by U.S. News and World Report and #15 by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance for best values among private universities, Emory University offers a small liberal arts college environment within a major research university. Click here to begin your application.

Brown University Pre-College Programs


Summer@Brown offers courses that are designed for students looking to experience college-level academics on an Ivy League campus. Reflecting Brown’s broadliberal arts curriculum, Summer@Brown features nearly 200 courses, designed andtaught at the level of first-year college courses, and ranging in length from one to four weeks. Resting on the principles that are at the core of a Brown undergraduate education and its open curriculum, the program shifts the focus away from grades and credits and towards learning itself.

The program attracts likeminded students, ambitious and driven in their educational pursuits. This, combined with passionate instructors, fuels the program’s challenging curriculum. Students engage in their own academic development and are encouraged to explore topics of interest. Without the pressure of formal grades, students can focus on studying what they are passionate about.

Prepare for College Success

Along with a robust co-curricular program and a supervised residential experience, Summer@Brown is designed to help prepare students for the self-discipline and independence required for college-level life and learning. Students learn to balance rigorous academics and free time by making daily decisions about homework, activities, and relaxation.

Classes meet for three hours daily, and are scheduled during the morning, early afternoon, and late afternoon. Each course may require up to three hours of daily out-of-class homework assignments—reading, writing, group work, and studying. This time also includes scheduled meetings with your instructor or course Teaching Assistant. Many courses feature site visits, excursions, labs, or hands-on projects, all of which broaden the student learning experience.

At the close of the summer, all students who successfully fulfill the course requirements will receive a certificate indicating so. Students enrolled in courses two weeks or longer will also receive a narrative Course Performance Report (CPR), in which the instructor outlines the content of the course and evaluates the student’s performance.

Live and Learn on Brown’s Ivy League Campus

Outside of class, students experience the independence and responsibility of life on an Ivy League campus. They meet fellow students from around the world and attend events, workshops, and social activities, including Prepare for College Success Workshops and the Summer@Brown Speaker Series.

For the duration of their stay, students live and learn on the Brown University campus. Brown’s residence halls are within walking distance of academic buildings and campus resources. Each hall is staffed with carefully selected and trained Residence Directors (RDs) and Residential Advisors (RAs), who live onsite and help students create a balanced academic and social life. Students eat their meals in Brown’s dining halls, which offer a variety of options, and have access to Brown’s libraries, study center, and Writing Center.

What to Study?

The process of choosing your courses begins with some questions about yourself:

  • What areas of study do you find most intriguing?
  • What do you consider you are “best” at and want to do more of?
  • What are you determined to “do” better?
  • What do you know little about but are deeply interested in exploring?
  • What course of study do you think will bring you in contact with the kinds of people you most want to be with?
  • Among those things you think you “ought” to study, which do you most “want” to study?
  • Where do you want to go, and what do you need to know to get there?

Find Courses »

Take More Than One Course

Accepted students may choose to enroll in multiple courses, arranging them in successive, overlapping, or concurrent sessions. Most students who take more than one course enroll in a series of courses in succession, taking one course at a time. While enrolling in concurrent courses is demanding, given the amount of class and study time each course requires, many students build a schedule that includes courses that meet during the same week(s) for part of their time at Brown. For more information about course scheduling, please contact our office.

With academics at the core of the program, Summer@Brown challenges students to explore their independence and emerge better prepared for their transition to college.

Harvard Summer Programs for High School Students

Summer Programs for High School Students

Are you a high school student age 15 to 18? Then consider spending your summer at Harvard, where you can explore a variety of college-level courses, and live and learn alongside a diverse set of peers.

Our summer programs for high school students are designed to prepare you for that all-important next step—both academically and socially—paving the way for a successful college experience.

Here, you will expand your worldview, meet new people from all over the globe, test-drive potential majors, gain valuable knowledge and skills, and explore Boston—one of America’s most vibrant and historic cities—amid a community of supportive peers and advisors.


Pre-College Program

A two-week residential experience featuring noncredit courses

Join other intellectually curious high school students on campus at Harvard, where you can explore topics as wide ranging as American law, philosophy, public speaking, the sciences, and writing. The program features:

  • A choice of over 100 noncredit courses designed to give pre-college students a preview of college academics.
  • On-campus housing with fellow pre-college students and residential staff.
  • Structured days, with weekday class meetings and pre-college activities.

During your two weeks at Harvard, you attend class for three hours a day and participate in college readiness workshops or team-building events. In the evenings, you eat in the dining hall, finish homework in your room, and attend social activities.

You leave the pre-college summer program more capable of thinking critically and communicating confidently—skills that will lead to success at school, in college, and in your career.

Applications for the Pre-College Program are now open.


Secondary School Program

College courses for credit in a seven-week session

This is your test-drive of college. At Harvard, you are fully immersed in college life—balancing time between classes, homework, and extracurricular activities. The program features:

  • College courses (over 200 to choose from), which you attend alongside current college students, other high school students, and professionals from around the world.
  • Credit you can transfer to a college in the future.
  • The choice to live on campus, commute, or study online.
  • The freedom to schedule your days.

You may choose to enroll in one or two courses. Outside the classroom, you can attend workshops, take trips to nearby colleges, and unwind through activities like intramural sports and musical pursuits. You find a healthy balance of organized events and free time, allowing you the independence you will find in college.

Applications for the Secondary School Program are now open.



Summer College Programs – A Word of Caution

U.S. News & World Reports provides important considerations before spending thousands of dollars on a pre-college or summer program:

Pre-college summer programs often give teens a taste of the most attractive aspects of college life: dorm housing, challenging classes and a parent-free environment. While advisers and program directors help students navigate their new surroundings, there are ways parents can help high schoolstudents prepare for the experience before they ever set foot on campus.

Mollie Garberg believes sending one of her daughters to a pre-college program to study neuroscience at Emory University helped when it was time to apply for schools.

[Find the Best High Schools that prepare students for college.]

“She got a glowing evaluation and we attached it to her [college] application[s],” says Garberg. Her daughter, she says, is now in the honors program at Tulane University. Garberg, a mom of three who lives outside of Boston, says the program also helped boost her child’s confidence.

“She understood what college was going to be like,” she says. “She was excited about it.” This summer Garberg plans to send another one of her girls to Brown University for a two-week summer program.

Academic enrichment programs for teens typically run anywhere from one to 10 weeks. Garberg paid about $3,000 to send her oldest daughter to the two-week Emory program. Some programs cost as much as $10,000.

“They’re not cheap, but they’re worth it,” Garberg says.

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