For almost two years, COVID-19 has dramatically altered the everyday lives of American teens as well as young people all over the globe. For the bulk of that time (pre-vaccine), it felt as if life was on pause for an indeterminate length of time, and, in many ways—it was. While the 2021-22 school years at most American high schools and colleges have been far more smooth than the previous two, the arrival of the Omicron variant has introduced a degree of uncertainty back into the equation.

No matter what the future holds on the pandemic front, we still encourage college-bound teens, particularly those eyeing highly-selective institutions, to spend their summers as productively as possible, accounting for the challenging times in which are presently residing.

Our recommendation: Line-up a backup summer program (just to be safe)

The College Transitions team recommends having a solid backup plan in the event that your summer program is cancelled or, in case you end up not feeling like travel and residential living might not be the most safe choice. Preferably, this backup plan will be a) local or b) online. For example, if you were planning on attending a residential pre-med summer program in another city/state, work on lining up a local opportunity such as volunteering at a nearby hospital or taking a pre-med related course online. On the remote-based front, the good news is that many elite universities allow high school students the opportunity to take summer courses online in a wide variety of academic disciplines. Another positive is that most of these programs accept applications through May or even into June on a rolling basis.

1) Summer @Brown Online

Tuition: 3-week course – $4,835; 4-week course – $5,110; 6-week course – $5,720

Eligibility: Ages 15-18, students completing grades 9-12

Application Deadline: 5/20 (EA deadline is 1/14)

Summary of courses offered:

Brown offers 14 courses on a wide range of topics including those in the humanities such as Disruptive Thinkers, Ideological Conflict, and Social Revolution as well as STEM courses such as Renewable Energy Engineering and Creative Coding.

2) Cornell University Summer Session Online

Tuition: $1,620 per credit

Eligibility: Current 10th-12th grade students

Application Deadline: May 6th-27th (by session)

Summary of courses offered:

There are one or more courses offered to high school students in the summer in each of the following areas: Anthropology, Asian Studies, Classics, Communication, Economics, Government, Human Development, Nutritional Science, Plant Biology, and Psychology.

3) Rice University Summer Sessions

Tuition: $750 per credit hour

Eligibility: Rising 11th, 12th graders

Application Deadline: Rolling through May

Summary of courses offered:

With 10 courses, the selection isn’t vast, but the chance to learn from esteemed Rice faculty in areas like Machine Learning, Programming Languages, Data Visualization, Algorithms, or Principles of Economics is certainly worth strong consideration.

4) Tufts Pre-College Programs

Tuition: $990 per credit

Eligibility: Entering 10th-12th graders

Application Deadline: Rolling through May 1

Summary of courses offered:

Tufts offers 25+ courses with a nice variety across academic disciplines. Online offerings range from Introductory Statistics to Ancient Egypt to Social Psychology. Foreign language courses at various levels are also available in French and Spanish.

5) Boston University – High School Honors Online

Tuition: $5,760 (for 8 credits)

Eligibility: Rising 11th and 12th graders

Application Deadline: 5/27

Summary of courses offered:

A dozen online courses are offered through BU for this upcoming summer. On the foreign language front, high schoolers can tackle Chinese or Spanish. The renowned Questrom School of Business runs an Introduction to Management Course. Microeconomics, Calculus, and Introduction to Statistics are also on the table.

6) Brandeis University Summer Courses

Tuition: $3,100 for 4-credit lecture course; 1,650 for 2-credit lecture course

Eligibility: Rising 12th grade students

Application Deadline: Open enrollment. Enroll prior to May 21

Summary of courses offered:

Wide variety of courses are run asynchronously, last for 10 weeks, and generally “rely heavily on written communication with classmates and the instructor” so “strong English skills are imperative.” Classes are small–typically 10-20 students.

7) Purdue University

Tuition: $1,050-$3,000 per class depending on in-state, out-of-state, or international status

Eligibility: Age 16 and above

Application Deadline: Rolling

Summary of courses offered:

Offering 35+ courses online, you won’t find a better such selection at any school of Purdue’s quality. There are multiple courses available in the areas of Earth & Atmospheric Sciences, Economics, History, Mathematics, Philosophy, Political Science, Sociology, and Statistics.

8) UC San Diego – FUTURES Programs

Tuition: $400-$1,000

Eligibility: Rising 10th-12th graders

Application Deadline: Rolling

Summary of courses offered:

For students interested in computer science, business management, or life sciences research, the UC San Diego program is an affordable way to learn valuable skills on a remote basis. Specific courses are offered in Front End Web Development, iOS Programming, and AutoCAD, and Android Programming.

9) University of Washington Summer Quarter Online

Tuition: $1,274-$4,055

Eligibility: Rising 9th through 12th

Application Deadline: Rolling through June

Summary of courses offered:

Roughly 50 courses are available through UW, including options in the Arts, Education, Geography & History; Languages, Literature & Writing; Math & Statistics; Natural Sciences; Political Science, Law & Criminal Justice; and the Social Sciences. They have new offerings including Witchcraft from History to Popular Culture and Vikings in Popular Culture.

10) Oregon State University

Tuition: $326-$362 per credit (varies by discipline)

Eligibility: All high school students

Application Deadline: Rolling

Summary of courses offered:

If you are looking for established university that has a massive number of courses online, look no further that OSU. A leader in online education, Oregon has courses in the Biological Sciences, Business, Chemistry, Computer Science, Education, Engineering; History, Philosophy, and Religion; Language, Culture, and Society; Natural Resources; Public Health & Human Services; Public Policy, and STEM.