Activity 1: Self-assessment. What are the most appropriate summer opportunities for you? As an athlete, you might engage in summer strength and conditioning programs, compete in AAU or USATF competitions, or summer leagues. As a musician, you might attend music camps, programs hosted at colleges and universities, or work with a music professional. Based on your academic goals, you might take classes to recover a grade or to accelerate your academic coursework by attending summer school, taking online classes, or attending pre-college programs.

Consider the following questions in guiding your summer plans:

  • Based on my academic strengths and weaknesses, will I need to recover classes in which I did not perform well during the school year or would I like to accelerate my academic schedule by taking summer classes?
  • Based on my gifts and talents, would I like to attend specialized programs for athletes, musicians, artists, dancers, or theatre performers?
  • Based on my career aspirations, would I like to perform community service or pursue unpaid internship opportunities?
  • Based on the competition to gain admission into my top colleges, would I like to increase my competitiveness as a candidate for admission by participating in competitions or learning more about how to conduct research?
  • Would I like to engage in volunteer at my school or participate on a Mission Trip?

Notes: Make notes of how you envision spending your summers during each year between now and the summer prior to entering into your senior year of high school.

Activity 2: Researching summer programs aligned with your interests. 

  • FFEAE Research: You may begin your research by reviewing the comprehensive listing under the Summer and Pre-college Programs  page of our blog.
  • Keyword Research: You may further expand your research by performing an Internet search on the phrase “best + my interest + summer programs for high school students.”
  • Programs of Interest: Take notes regarding programs of interest, paying particular attention to dates, costs, and application deadlines as you will add this information to your narrative document.



Activity 3: Future Planning. The video of the United States Senate Youth Program is an example of a program that would require future planning for high school freshmen and sophomores as a student must be a rising high school junior or senior to apply.

However, the selection criteria notes:

Rising high school juniors and seniors may obtain a USSYP application through their high school principals, guidance counselors and social studies teachers OR they may inquire directly to their state selection contacts using this website (see selection contacts listing on home page). All student delegates to the United States Senate Youth Program are selected by state-level education officials – the United States Senate and The Hearst Foundations do not provide individual states’ applications or choose the delegates and alternates.

Consequently, in a manner similar to applying to colleges and for scholarships, you have the opportunity over the course of your first two years of high school to engage in the type of leadership and take the type of actions that will make you a competitive applicant.

The following video provides an example of a program that is only available to rising college freshmen.


Expand your research so that you have a listing of programs of interest, which may only be available to high school juniors and seniors. The first example pertains to students interested in engineering. Performing an Internet search on the phrase, “best engineering summer programs for high school students” yields such results as:

The second example pertains to students interested in music. Performing an Internet search on the phrase, “best pre-college summer programs for high school students” yields such results as:

The third example pertains to students interested in writing. Performing an Internet search on the phrase, “best summer writing programs for high school students” yields such results as:

Lesson 3: Researching Academic Recovery/Accelerated Opportunities. Meet with your counselor to determine the opportunities offered by your school district to recover or accelerate your academic coursework. For example, many school districts offer online classes and dual enrollment classes, which may be taken in the evening during the school year and during the summer.

The following phrases can be used to guide your research in supplementing the opportunities available within your school district:

  • “subject + summer classes for high school students” (e.g., math summer classes for high school students)
  • “subject + classes for high school students” (e.g., music classes for high school students)
  • “academic enrichment programs for high school students”
  • “academic camps for high school students”
  • “gifted and talented programs for high school students”

Important considerations:

Since you are limited in the amount of time and money available to devote to attending summer programs, consider the following in developing your list of programs:

  • Begin with local programs by including your state or city in your search phrase, e.g., “summer music programs for high school students in Atlanta.”
  • Expand your search to identify programs hosted on the campuses of some of the colleges and universities to which you are interested in applying for admission and include the college name in your search phrase, e.g., “summer programs for high school students at Duke” or “Duke summer programs for high school students.”
  • Focus on the programs that relate to your ‘hook,’ e.g., music, dance, athletics, academics, math, science, writing, etc.

Supplemental Programs: The following programs are nationally recognized. Performing an Internet search on the name of the program to identify the link to the program’s website.

  • (MS)2 at Phillips Academy
  • A Better Chance (ABC)
  • Asian American Journalists Association – JCamp
  • Benjamin Franklin Summer Institute
  • Canada/USA Mathcamp
  • Carnegie Mellon Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS)
  • Duke TIP
  • Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSIM)
  • Indiana University – High School Journalism Institute (HSJI)
  • Jackson Laboratory – Summer Student Program
  • Johns Hopkins CTY
  • Leadership Enterprise for a Diverse America (LEDA)
  • MathILy at Bryn Mawr College
  • Michigan State University – High School Honors Science, Math and Engineering Program (HSHSP)
  • MIT Launch
  • MIT Minority Introduction to Engineering and Science (MITES)
  • MIT Research Science Institute (RSI)
  • MIT Women’s Technology Program (WTP)
  • National Institutes of Health Summer Internship Program in Biomedical Research (SIP)
  • Princeton University Summer Journalism Program
  • Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS)
  • Ross Mathematics Program at the Ohio State University
  • Science Summer Program (SSP)
  • Stanford University Mathematics Camp
  • Summer Enrichment at Dartmouth (SEAD) Program
  • Telluride Association Summer Program
  • Yale University Young Global Scholars Program
  • Indiana University – Young Women’s Institute
  • United States Senate Youth Program
  • University of Notre Dame Leadership Seminar
  • University of Pennsylvania Leadership in the Business World Program

You may also utilize summer opportunities to participate in programs or learning experiences that will prepare you to pursue national awards and recognition programs:

  • American Invitational Mathematics Examination (AIME) Participant
  • BioGENEius National Participant
  • Boys or Girls Nation Participant
  • Eagle Scout (Boy Scouts)
  • FIRST Robotics Chairman’s Award Recipient
  • Gold Award (Girl Scouts)
  • Google Science Fair Award Winner
  • Governor’s School Program Participant
  • Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (Intel ISEF) Participant or Winner
  • Intel Science Talent Search Semi-finalist (or higher)
  • National Hispanic Recognition Program Scholar
  • National Speech and Debate Participant
  • Scholastic Art and Writing Competition Award
  • Science Olympiad National Tournament Medalist
  • Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology Semi-finalist (or higher)
  • State or National Orchestra