If you’re a high school student who wants to make the most of your summer, there are many excellent opportunities and programs to consider. So many, in fact, that it can be difficult to figure out which to pursue.

First, think about your goals and ask yourself:

How much time can I devote to a summer program?
Summer programs for high school students range from a few days to several weeks. Think about the time you have available, what your optimal experience would be, and what you hope to gain from the program you choose.

Do I have a possible college major or career path that I want to learn more about?
If so, focus on programs in that particular area or career interest. If not, are you looking for a summer opportunity with a theme, like leadership or global affairs, or would you prefer to take university classes or spend the summer learning about a new culture or doing community service?

Why do you want to participate in a summer program?
You might be looking to earn college credits, go deeper in a subject you love, serve your community or challenge yourself in a new way. Whatever your motivation, you should choose something you are excited about, will learn from and that will complement your extracurricular profile.

What financial resources are necessary to participate in a summer program?
Most programs will require program fees, and if you plan to stay on-site or venture far from home, you’ll need to consider transportation, living and eating expenses. Many programs offer some financial aid, so be sure to look for available opportunities as you explore your options.

Once you establish what you’re looking for it will be easier to focus your search. In general, summer programs fall into the following categories:

  • Community Service
  • Culture Immersion & Study Abroad
  • Internships
  • Leadership Development
  • Academic Programs
    • Competitions
    • Research opportunities
    • University programs. Specific subjects include arts; business & entrepreneurship; communication, media & journalism; computer & data science; design; economics; humanities; law; medicine; outdoor programs; science, technology, engineering & mathematics; social justice; and more.
About the author
Marc Zawel

As author of Untangling the Ivy League, Marc literally wrote the book on gaining admission to highly selective colleges. He earned a BA from Cornell University – where he met AcceptU’s co-founder – and an MBA from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Marc chaired the admissions advisory board; he has also conducted alumni interviews for Cornell for more than fifteen years.

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