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Top Summer Programs for High School Students/Teens


An increasing number of selective colleges now scrutinize how applicants spend their summers during high school. Some parents, in response to this trend, have blown thousands of dollars on summer programs for teens that may provide for an enriching experience, but do little to distinguish their child from the rest of the applicant pool. Today, as a result, the majority of competitive colleges offer at least one pre-college summer program, inviting high school students to explore campus, visit with faculty, and even take courses during the summer months. 

For a full look at our searchable database of the best 2024 summer programs click the button below. Here, you will be able to sort summer programs by discipline and location and can view important data points such as tuition costs, deadlines, course listings, and more!

Search 2024 Best Summer Programs

However, many summer programs for teens are nothing more than “cash cows” and will accept any high school student able to pay the bill. That is to say that participation in these summer programs will be viewed by your prospective colleges as evidence of wealth, rather than evidence of any special ability—even if these programs happen to be offered on an Ivy League campus. As a result, they do little to improve your admission prospects.

On the other hand, a growing minority of selective programs select high-achieving high school students strictly on the basis of merit. In contrast, many of these programs are free/reasonably priced and will be an impressive addition to your college application.

Some outstanding programs with rolling admissions that the College Transitions team highly recommends checking out include:

Futures Forge

Miami University Summer Scholars Program 

St. John’s Summer Academy

SCAD Pre-College Programs

Rosetta Institute of Biomedical Research

Young Writers Workshop at Bard College at Simon’s Rock

Illinois Tech Elevate College Prep Summer Programs

ELIO Academy of Biomedical Sciences

Below you will find a list of highly-selective for high school students:

Arizona State University – Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication

Bank of America Student Leaders

Boston University – Research in Science & Engineering (RISE)

Canada/USA Mathcamp

Carnegie Mellon – Summer Academy for Math + Science (SAMS)

Foundation for Teaching Economics – Economics for Leaders (EFL)

Garcia Scholars – Stony Brook University

Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Camp

Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics (HCSSIM)

Indiana University – Young Women’s Institute

Jackson Laboratory – Summer Student Program

JCamp – For Journalism students


Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Minority Introduction to Science and Engineering (MITES)

MathILy – Bryn Mawr College

MDI Biological Laboratory Summer Research Fellowship

Michigan Math and Science Scholars

Michigan State University – High School Honors Science, Math and Engineering Program (HSHSP)

MIT Research Science Institute

Monell Center Science Apprenticeship Program

National Institutes of Health – Summer Internship in Biomedical Research (SIP)

Ohio State University – Ross Mathematics Program

Princeton University – Summer Journalism Program

Program in Mathematics for Young Scientists (PROMYS)

Simons Summer Research Program

Stanford Institutes of Medicine Summer Research Program (SIMR)

Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC)

Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)

Texas Tech University – Clark Scholars

University of Iowa – Secondary Student Training Program (SSTP)

Univ. of Notre Dame – Leadership Seminars

University of Pennsylvania – Leadership in the Business World

U.S. Air Force Academy – Summer Seminar

U.S. Coast Guard Academy – Academy Introduction Mission (AIM)

U.S. Military Academy – Summer Leaders Experience

U.S. Naval Academy – Summer Seminar

Yale Young Global Scholars

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In conclusion, please note that participation in one of these programs is not essential to earn admission into a selective college. For example, spending your summer at a local job or internship, or completing a for-credit college course, can prove just as impressive. However, students seeking an exciting summer experience outside their area, while improving their college applicant profile in the process, are advised to explore the above.

Again, if you are looking for a searchable list of by-discipline, by-location best summer programs click the button below:

Search 2024 Best Summer Programs 

Lastly, students seeking assistance with their summer program search, and with their college applications, can contact us at [email protected] or at 678-710-3699, to learn about our background and the services we provide. In addition, you can complete a free consultation request form.

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