12 Winter Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Things to Do During Winter Break College Edition

12 Winter Programs for High School Students

High school is an important time in your academic journey. The choices you make now can shape your future, particularly for college admissions. That’s why looking into winter programs for high school students is crucial. These programs give you a chance to learn more, develop useful skills, and stand out in college applications. If you want to distinguish yourself and reach your full potential, spending your winter break in one of these programs could be a wise decision.

The Perks of Opting for Winter Programs

Winter programs offer a shorter duration compared to summer ones. While summer programs typically last 2-3 months, winter programs are shorter, usually spanning a few weeks. This condensed timeframe is perfect if you’re seeking a focused dive into a specific subject before applying to more advanced programs in the summer. By participating in a winter program, you can enhance your skills and knowledge in a particular field, polish your resume, and even apply for more prestigious summer programs within a single year.

Additionally, winter programs tend to be more cost-effective. Since they are shorter than summer programs, they generally cost less. Some winter programs also offer virtual components, which are often more affordable than in-person programs. This list includes several virtual winter programs to consider from a financial perspective.

Winter programs are also senior-friendly. If you’re a high school senior aiming to bolster your resume with a research or work-based program before college applications begin in the new year, winter programs are an ideal option. Unlike summer programs, which are usually too late to include in your resume or essay, winter programs allow you to showcase recent accomplishments in time for college applications.

Top view of an unrecognizable marine biologist writing data on a paper on a boat

1. Dolphin Research Center Internships

  • Location: Grassey Key, FL
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: Summer Term (May to August), Fall Term (September to December), Winter Term (January to April)
  • Application Deadline: available whole year round
  • Eligibility: High school students

Internships at DRC offer a great way for you to build career skills and learn how a marine mammal facility works. You’ll work in specific departments for 16 to 18 weeks, available throughout the year. Interns work 40 hours a week, spending four days in their department and one day helping in different parts of daily operations through the Volunteer Resources Pool. These internships don’t pay, and you don’t need to be in college to apply.

You’ll also work on extra projects that match what DRC needs and what you’re good at and interested in. This might mean helping your department or working with other teams. Besides your everyday tasks, you’re encouraged to set personal learning goals based on your interests and skills. If you want college credit, your internship work can count towards your coursework.

2. Stanford Engineering Everywhere

  • Cost: Free
  • Program Date: Self-paced
  • Application Deadline: No application deadline
  • Eligibility: Open to all

Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) offers an exciting opportunity for you to engage in high-quality engineering education from Stanford University, right from the comfort of your home. The program is available at no cost and only requires a computer and an internet connection. 

SEE provides a selection of courses originally taught at Stanford, including a popular three-course Introduction to Computer Science sequence taken by most Stanford undergraduates. Additionally, it offers more advanced courses in fields such as artificial intelligence and electrical engineering. These courses are designed to be comprehensive, featuring full lecture videos, course materials such as syllabi, handouts, homework, and exams, all accessible online.

What makes SEE standout is its open access to a global audience. You can explore various engineering disciplines through courses that cover linear systems and optimization, database systems, and more. The program’s format includes a mix of lectures, assignments, and quizzes, mirroring the rigorous academic experience of on-campus Stanford courses.

3. Model United Nations

  • Location: In all participating schools and offices
  • Cost: $200 – $400
  • Program Date: January – March 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Students, fresh graduates, and working professionals

Model United Nations (MUN) is a student-led simulation of the United Nations, where students from around the world come together to engage in debate and discussion about global issues. This program mimics the operations of the real United Nations, with participants representing various countries and engaging in committees such as the Security Council or General Assembly. In these sessions, delegates research and present their assigned country’s policies and positions on a range of international topics, including politics, economics, and social issues. The process is overseen by a chair or panel of chairs who ensure adherence to parliamentary procedures.

MUN serves as a platform for students to develop a multitude of skills, including public speaking, research, negotiation, diplomacy, and critical thinking. It’s not only an educational experience but also a venue for fostering global citizenship, encouraging delegates to appreciate the complexity of international relations and broadening their cross-cultural awareness.

Young gamer playing video game wearing headphone.

4. NYU Tandon’s Future Game Designers

  • Location: NYU Game Center’s facilities, Downtown Brooklyn
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Date: February 3 – May 11, 2024 (meeting weekly on Saturdays)
  • Application Deadline: February 3, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school first-years, sophomores, and juniors

NYU Tandon’s Future Game Designers is a 14-week, free workshop for high school first-years, sophomores, and juniors. It offers an intensive, hands-on introduction to digital and tabletop game development, game history, and the game industry. Held at the NYU Game Center in Downtown Brooklyn, the program focuses on developing digital prototypes and culminates in a final game project. It emphasizes collaboration, communication, and critical thinking about games within cultural contexts.

5. Fox Chase Cancer Center’s Immersion Science Program

  • Location: Fox Chase Cancer Center, PA
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Date: January 9, 2023 – March 20, 2023
  • Application Deadline: October 30, 2023
  • Eligibility: Students from the Philadelphia- Tri-State area who are at least 16 years of age

Fox Chase Cancer Center gives high school students the chance to work on advanced biomedical research with professional scientists. The main focus is on ‘mapping nutrient targets during development.’ You’ll attend lectures, do lab work, and carry out your own project. The program takes place every Saturday, ending with a day where you present your research. Remember, there are only 16 places available in each group, and you’ll need two recommendations to apply. There’s also an interview part of the application process.

6. EnergyMag Internships

  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: Flexible
  • Application Deadline: Rolling
  • Eligibility: High school and college students

EnergyMag Internships present a distinctive opportunity for students passionate about both the renewable energy industry and environmental journalism. These remote placements enable students to delve into cutting-edge energy topics from any corner of the globe. Designed to accommodate the busy schedules of high school and college students, the program offers flexibility.

Interns develop crucial research and analytical skills through exploration of renewable energy technologies, policies, and industry players. They are tasked with generating comprehensive reports, aligning with EnergyMag’s mission of advancing understanding and awareness of renewable energy. This experience proves invaluable for those interested in fields such as science, environmental studies, journalism, or public policy.

Students laughing together in their apartments

7. National Security Agency (NSA) High School Work Study Program

  • Location: Varies 
  • Cost: None
  • Program Dates: September to August of your senior year
  • Application Deadline: October 31, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school juniors aged 16 and above.

The National Security Agency’s High School Work Study Program provides practical work experience for students from various backgrounds such as business, engineering, computer science, applied arts, graphic arts, or manufacturing. This program matches students to part-time positions across NSA’s diverse departments based on their skills and the specific needs of each department.

Within administrative and technical roles, students may find themselves assisting in offices or working with state-of-the-art data processing equipment, handling basic administrative tasks or contributing to technical projects. On the other hand, vocational roles offer opportunities in machining, graphic design, and assembly line tasks, allowing students to gain hands-on experience in modern manufacturing and design techniques. 

For language students, the program provides avenues to apply their proficiency in Chinese or Russian in real-world contexts, further enhancing their language skills in these crucial areas.

8. Upperline School Of Code

  • Location: 150 Broadway, New York, NY (online option also available)
  • Cost: $295 – $4,995
  • Program Date: Classes available all throughout 2024
  • Application Deadline: Rolling basis
  • Eligibility: High school students

Upperline School of Code is a dynamic educational platform focusing on empowering students through coding. The program stands out for its commitment to transforming how students interact with technology, fostering a deep understanding and practical application of coding languages such as HTML, CSS, Ruby, JavaScript, and Swift

The program’s structure is tailored to cater to individual needs and schedules, offering a range of flexible learning options including in-person classes, online classes, and a hybrid model. This flexibility ensures that regardless of your personal circumstances or geographical location, you can access quality coding education. Upperline’s curriculum is project-based, where you work on real-world projects, giving you a tangible portfolio of work that is highly valued in the job market.

9. WordMasters Challenge

  • Location: All participating schools
  • Cost: $105 per grade team
  • Program Date: October 1, 2023 – March 29, 2024
  • Application Deadline: October 1, 2023
  • Eligibility: Students in grades 3-8

The WordMasters Challenge™ is tailored for students in grades 3-8 and involves nearly 3,000 teams from across the United States and several foreign countries. Throughout the school year, participants engage in three separate competitions, spaced about two months apart. Each competition centers around a set of 25 words, with the difficulty increasing at each grade level. 

The first competition tests students on the initial 25 words, the second on a cumulative total of 50 words (including 25 new words), and the third encompasses all 75 words learned over the course of the year. The aim of the WordMasters Challenge™ is to foster growth not only in vocabulary but also in critical thinking and verbal reasoning skills. The competition takes place within the school premises, making it accessible for all participating students. Homeschooled students can also join the challenge, ensuring a broad and inclusive participation​​​​​​​​.

10. Regeneron Science Talent Search

  • Location: Washington, D.C
  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Program Date: January 10 – March 12, 2024
  • Application Deadline: November 8, 2023
  • Eligibility: Students over 13 years of age

In the Regeneron STS, students from across the country submit their original research in various scientific fields. The competition is unique in its focus on high school students, providing them with an important forum for their research, which is recognized and reviewed by a national jury of professional scientists. 

Each year, the program recognizes 300 students as scholars and invites 40 student finalists to Washington, D.C., for final judging. These finalists display their work to the public and meet with notable scientists and government leaders. The competition awards over $3.1 million annually, with scholarships for the top 300 scholars and a minimum of $25,000 for each finalist. The top winner of the competition receives a grand prize of $250,000.

students learning a new language

11. Open Yale Courses

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: Free
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Eligibility: No eligibility criteria

Open Yale Courses (OYC) offers you a unique opportunity to access a selection of introductory courses from Yale University, completely free of charge. This initiative is designed to broaden educational access for everyone interested in learning. The courses are taught by distinguished teachers and scholars at Yale and cover a wide range of liberal arts disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, and physical and biological sciences. 

You don’t need to register to access these courses, and while they don’t offer course credit, a degree, or a certificate through the OYC website, they provide an invaluable resource for self-directed and life-long learners, educators, as well as high school and college students. The courses are available in various formats, including high-quality video lectures, audio versions, and searchable transcripts, allowing you to learn in the way that suits you best. 

12. MIT Opencourseware

  • Location: Online
  • Cost: Free
  • Duration: Self-paced
  • Eligibility: No eligibility criteria

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) is an initiative by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, offering you free and open access to a vast collection of courses across every department and degree program at MIT. This digital trove includes over 7,000 lectures straight from MIT classrooms, which you can watch on the OCW YouTube channel. It’s a free and open publication of materials from more than 2,500 MIT courses, covering the entire spectrum of the MIT curriculum. Whether you’re interested in engineering, humanities, or the sciences, there’s something for you. 

What makes OCW unique is not just its comprehensive coverage but also its commitment to making high-quality educational materials universally accessible. With the recent launch of its next-generation platform, OCW has become even more user-friendly, especially for mobile users. This update means that no matter where you are, you can access MIT’s world-class content on your phone, opening up new learning opportunities. 

Diverse group of students with young man in wheelchair

Final Thoughts

As you gear up for your high school winter break, consider the immense value that participating in one of these programs can bring to your college journey. Whether you’re aiming for Ivy League universities, top-tier colleges, or any institution of your dreams, these winter programs can help you gain a competitive edge.

At AdmissionSight, we understand the significance of these opportunities in shaping your academic future. With our expertise and guidance, we can help you navigate the complexities of college admissions and make informed decisions about which winter program aligns best with your goals. So, seize the chance to excel, stand out, and pave the way for a bright academic future. Your dream college awaits, and we’re here to help you reach it.


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