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15 Little-Known Summer Programs That Impress College Admissions

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Male And Female Secondary Or High School Students Outdoors At School Looking At Mobile Phone

15 Little-Known Summer Programs That Impress College Admissions

Many students look for ways to stand out in their college applications. One effective method is participating in summer programs. However, it’s not just the well-known programs that make a difference. There are many little-known summer programs that can also impress college admissions officers. These programs offer unique learning experiences, opportunities to gain new skills, and a chance to dive deep into subjects you’re passionate about. They can be especially valuable for students who want to show their dedication and readiness for college-level work.

This blog post will explore some of these hidden summer programs that can help your college application shine. We’ll cover a range of programs, from those focusing on specific academic interests to others that develop leadership and personal growth. Whether you’re into science, art, technology, or social studies, there’s a program out there that can enhance your skills and interests. By joining one of these lesser-known programs, you can not only improve your chances of getting into a good college but also have a fun and enriching summer experience.

1. Terp Young Scholars

  • Location: University of Maryland; Virtual.
  • Cost: $2,500 (Commuter); $1,500 (Online)
  • Program Dates: July 8- July 26, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising high school sophomore, junior, senior, or graduating senior.

The Terp Young Scholars program at the University of Maryland offers high school students a unique opportunity to experience college life and academics over three weeks. Students can earn three university credits by taking a course, either in-person or online, to delve into an academic subject of their interest. This program allows participants to choose between commuting to UMD’s campus for classes or fully engaging online from home. Both options offer dynamic and innovative learning experiences, including interaction with faculty and fellow students in a challenging academic environment.

students listening and talking to male teacher

Joining this summer program is great for impressing college admissions because it shows you can handle tough college courses and are serious about your education. You get credits that count towards your college transcript, making you stand out when applying to universities. It’s a competitive program, but getting in proves you’re ready for college challenges.

2. Frontiers Summer Program

  • Location: Worcester Polytechnic Institution.
  • Cost: $3,995
  • Program Dates: July 7 – July 19, 2024 (Session I); July 21 – August 2, 2024 (Session II)
  • Application Deadline: April 30, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising 10, 11, and 12th graders.

The Frontiers program at WPI is a two-week summer camp for high school students interested in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics). It gives you a taste of college life, where you can learn more about STEM subjects, explore a minor in humanities and arts, and meet students from around the world with similar interests. You’ll also take part in activities that prepare you for college and have fun socializing on WPI’s campus.

Joining this program is good for your college applications because it shows you’re serious about learning and ready for college-level STEM. You’ll get to try out lab classes, learn new things, and make friends from different places. This can help you stand out to colleges by showing you’re not only interested in STEM but also ready to take on the challenges of college courses and campus life.

3. Summer Program in Automation, Robotics, and Coding (SPARC)

  • Location: New York University.
  • Cost: $3,000
  • Program Dates: June 17- June 28, 2024 (Session I); July 8- July 19, 2024 (Session II); July 29- August 9, 2024 (Session III)
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising 9th through 12th grade high school students.

The SPARC program is a two-week summer camp for high school students interested in robotics and programming. You don’t need to know about robotics to start; you just need to be eager to learn and good at school. At SPARC, you’ll work with robotics kits to learn how to use microcontrollers, sensors, and actuators, which are parts that make robots move and sense things.

Robotics engineer students teamwork on project

Joining SPARC is great for your college applications because it shows you’re ready to tackle tough STEM subjects. You’ll learn about coding, how to build circuits, and how robots are made and controlled. This tells colleges you like to learn new things and can handle challenging projects, which can help you stand out when you apply to college.

4. Medicine Institute at Wake Forest

  • Location: Wake Forest University.
  • Cost: $3,000
  • Program Dates: June 9– June 14, 2024 (Session I); July 14 – July 19, 2024 (Session II)
  • Application Deadline: Rolling basis
  • Eligibility: Current 9th – 12th grade students.

The Wake Forest Summer Immersion Medicine Institute is a program for high school students interested in learning about careers in healthcare. You’ll get to see what it’s like to work in medicine by visiting healthcare facilities, doing simulations and labs, and practicing basic medical tasks like taking blood pressure and stitching wounds. The program covers many medical areas, including cardiology, neurology, and surgery, to give you a broad look at what doctors and nurses do.

Joining this program is good for your college application because it shows colleges that you’re serious about going into medicine. You’ll get real experience, see what medical school is like, and learn about new medical technologies. This can help you stand out to colleges by proving you’re committed to learning about healthcare and ready to take on the challenges of a medical career.

5. Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program

  • Location: Virtual.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 14– June 28, 2024 (Session I); July 8 – July 19, 2024 (Session II); July 29 – August 9, 2024 (Session III)
  • Application Deadline: February 14, 2024 (Early); March 22, 2024 (Regular)
  • Eligibility: 9th-11th grade girls and non-binary high school students.

Girls Who Code offers a program aimed at closing the gender gap in technology. It’s designed for high school students, especially encouraging participation from girls, non-binary folks, and those from underrepresented or low-income backgrounds. Over two weeks, the Summer Immersion Program (SIP) provides live, virtual classes where students from beginner to intermediate levels learn about computer science and game design. You’ll get to work on hands-on projects, like designing computer games with JavaScript, and connect with other students and tech professionals.

Being part of this summer program is great for impressing college admissions officers because it shows you’re interested in technology and taking steps to learn more about it. You’ll meet professionals from the tech world, get advice on careers in technology, and can even get financial help and equipment like laptops if you need them. This experience tells colleges that you’re active in learning new things and ready to be part of a community that supports diversity in technology.

6. Bethel College Summer Science Institute

  • Location: Bethel College; Virtual.
  • Cost: $3,000
  • Program Dates: June 23– June 28, 2024 (In-person); July 7- July 12, 2024 (Online)
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified ( participants will be emailed by May 15, 2024)
  • Eligibility: Students entering grades 10-12.

The Bethel College Summer Science Institute (BCSSI) is a program that lets high school students dive deep into science and mathematics topics not usually covered in high school. Starting in 2024, BCSSI will be available both in-person and online, giving students the flexibility to choose the format that works best for them. In this program, you’ll get hands-on experience with real research, working closely with faculty to collect data, test theories, use statistical software, and even write computer code. This experience goes beyond typical classroom learning, focusing on practical research skills.

Joining BCSSI is a good move for your college applications. It shows colleges that you’re serious about science and math and that you’ve already started working on complex topics and research projects. This can help you stand out when applying to colleges because it proves you have the skills and interest in these subjects. Plus, getting to work with college-level faculty and learning about research first-hand can give you a preview of what college will be like and show that you’re ready for the challenge.

7. Management & Technology Summer Institute

  • Location: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Cost: $9,000
  • Program Dates: July 7- July 27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising seniors and (select) rising juniors.

The Management & Technology Summer Institute (M&TSI) is a challenging summer program for high school juniors and seniors interested in how technology and business come together. It’s run by the Jerome Fisher Program in partnership with Penn Engineering and the Wharton School, offering classes by Penn’s top faculty and entrepreneurs. In just three weeks, students dive into an intensive curriculum, work on a team project to build and pitch a high-tech venture, and participate in activities that teach them about technological innovation.

Diverse group of young people chatting in college library

Joining M&TSI can really stand out on your college applications. It’s a chance to earn college credit from Penn, showing colleges you can handle a fast-paced, college-level course. You’ll learn directly from experts in business and engineering, develop a tech product from idea to pitch, and get feedback from professionals. This program not only boosts your academic credentials but also gives you practical experience and insights into the world of tech and business, making you a more attractive candidate to top universities.

8. Wharton Data Science Academy

  • Location: The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Cost: $9,399
  • Program Dates: July 14- August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 3, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students currently enrolled in grades 10-11.

The Wharton Data Science Academy teaches high school students about the latest in machine learning and data science. You’ll get to build your skills in statistics, learn how to analyze and visualize data, and dive into machine learning, which is a big part of modern artificial intelligence. Plus, you’ll learn how to use R, a programming language that’s widely used by data scientists. This program is hands-on, meaning you’ll work with real data and complete a project by the end.

Joining this summer program can be great in aiming to impress college admissions because it shows you’re interested in and capable of understanding complex tech subjects. You’ll learn from experts at Wharton, work on practical projects, and even get to present your work. This experience not only boosts your skills but also proves to colleges that you’re serious about learning and ready for future challenges in technology and beyond.

9. Georgetown Entrepreneurship Academy

  • Location: Georgetown University.
  • Cost: $5,775 (Residential); $4,025 (Commuter)
  • Program Dates: June 16- June 28, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising high school freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.

The Entrepreneurship Academy at Georgetown University is a two-week program that teaches high school students how to start and run their own business. You’ll learn about everything from coming up with a business idea and testing a prototype to conducting market research and understanding global business. Plus, you’ll get to hear from successful entrepreneurs from various industries, giving you a chance to learn firsthand what it takes to succeed in business.

Being part of this program can make your college applications stronger. It shows you’re eager to learn about business and capable of handling real-world challenges. You’ll also pick up key skills like how to speak in public, network, and work well in a team. Finishing the program with a pitch competition proves you can put what you’ve learned into action, setting you apart from other applicants with your ambition and practical skills.

10. Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.)

  • Location: University of Southern California Bridge Institute.
  • Cost: Free ($800 stipend)
  • Program Dates: June 17- August 3, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 21, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising high school freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior.

The USC Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.) is a summer program for high school students who want to do real research on human health. You’ll get to work in top-notch labs at USC with professors and their teams, learning by doing actual experiments and research. The program also includes fun and educational activities like tours, talks about careers in science, and events where you can meet other students. Plus, you’ll even collaborate with students from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts, making the experience even more unique.

Joining BUGS Jr. looks great on your college applications because it shows you’re serious about science and ready to take on complex projects. At the end of the summer, you’ll present your research at a big event, which is a great way to show off your hard work and skills in communicating science. This kind of experience can make you stand out to colleges by showing that you’re not just interested in science but also capable of contributing to real research and working well with others in a professional setting.

11. Cyber Security for Computer Science (CS4CS)

  • Location: New York University.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: July 15- August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 14, 2024
  • Eligibility: NYC residents currently in 9th, 10th, or 11th grade.

The Cyber Security for Computer Science (CS4CS) program at NYU is designed for high school students who want to learn about cybersecurity and computer science, no matter if they have experience or not. In this program, you’ll learn about things like ethical hacking, how to keep data safe, and how to find and stop digital threats. You’ll also get to use real cybersecurity tools and start building your coding skills. Plus, there’s a unique part of the program where you’ll improve your communication and public speaking through fun improv activities.

Student submits her AP Computer Science A code

Joining CS4CS is good for your college applications because it shows you’re interested in a very important and growing area of technology. It tells colleges you’ve already started learning valuable skills that can be used in many different careers. The program also helps you work on being a better speaker and team member, which are big pluses for any college or job. This experience can help set you apart from other applicants by showing you’re not just focused on academics but also on becoming a well-rounded individual.

12. Career Edge- NYU Summer High School Program

  • Location: New York University.
  • Cost: $2,579 per course
  • Program Dates: June- August 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 15, 2024 (International students); May 17, 2024 (Residential); June 7, 2024 (Commuter)
  • Eligibility: Students entering grades 10-12.

The Career Edge program at NYU is a summer experience that helps high school students get ready for college and figure out their future careers. It’s different from other programs because it doesn’t focus on earning college credits. Instead, you’ll dive into learning about different jobs and what college life is really like, all while living on NYU’s campus. This program is great for exploring a variety of careers and getting answers to big questions about college and finding the right job for you.

Joining Career Edge can really help your college applications stand out. It shows colleges that you’re serious about preparing for your future, not just academically but also in choosing a career. You’ll do projects and assignments that prepare you for what to expect in college classes and demonstrate the skills you’ve gained. This kind of experience can make you a more attractive candidate to colleges because it proves you’re thinking ahead and are ready to tackle the challenges of college and career planning.

13. Summer Springboard- Fundamentals of Engineering at MIT

  • Location: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Cost: $5,498 (Residential); $3,198 (Commuter)
  • Program Dates: June 16- June 28, 2024 (Session I); June 30- July 12, 2024 (Session II)
  • Application Deadline: Rolling admissions
  • Eligibility: Rising high school students ages 15- 17 years.

The Fundamentals of Engineering program at MIT offers high school students a chance to learn about different types of engineering from MIT’s own professors and scientists. You’ll work on practical projects, use simulations to understand engineering concepts, and even visit top engineering labs at MIT. The program covers areas like mechanical, electrical, aerospace, civil engineering, robotics, and how to program using MATLAB, a major language in science and tech fields.

Being part of this program is a big plus for your college applications. It shows you’re serious about learning and have a strong interest in engineering and technology. Getting hands-on experience and learning from experts at MIT can make you stand out to colleges. It tells them you’re ready for challenging courses and eager to dive into complex topics, making you a more appealing candidate for admission.

14. Annenberg Youth Academy for Media and Civic Engagement

  • Location: University of Southern California Annenberg.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 17- July 19, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 22, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising high school students residing in Los Angeles County.

The Annenberg Youth Academy is a summer program at USC for high school students. It lasts four weeks and teaches you about media and journalism and how they can help improve society. You’ll learn useful skills like writing, speaking confidently in public, and creating videos and audio recordings. The program also gives you a sneak peek at what it’s like to study at USC, especially in media-related subjects, and you’ll meet experts who focus on important topics such as race and gender in the media.

Being part of this summer program is great for aiming to impress college admissions because it shows you’re already learning at a college level and are interested in important social issues. You’ll pick up skills that will help you in any career and show colleges that you’re a thoughtful and engaged student. Meeting professionals and exploring future job options can also make your application stronger by showing you’re serious about your future and ready to take on challenges.

15. Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS)

  • Location: Pomona College.
  • Cost: Free
  • Program Dates: June 23- July 19, 2024
  • Application Deadline: February 26, 2024
  • Eligibility: Current 9th-grade student residing within one of our five local counties (Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or Ventura County).

The Pomona College Academy for Youth Success (PAYS) is a program designed for high school students, especially those who are the first in their families to go to college or come from low-income families. Over 90 students join each year, getting ready for college with college-level courses, cultural events, workshops, and field trips. This program lasts for four weeks every summer but also includes activities throughout the school year, for three years once you’re accepted. It’s focused on helping students get into selective colleges by offering a deep dive into academic and cultural experiences.

Diverse group of students with young man in wheelchair

Joining PAYS is good for your college applications because it shows colleges that you’re serious about your education and have been working hard for years to prepare for college. The program teaches you a lot and helps you become a stronger candidate for college, especially the competitive ones. Being in PAYS also shows that you’re determined and willing to take on challenges, which can make your college application stand out.

Final Thoughts

Exploring lesser-known summer programs can be a game-changer for high school students aiming to impress college admissions. These programs offer unique opportunities to dive into specific subjects, build new skills, and demonstrate a commitment to learning beyond the classroom. Participating in these summer programs not only enriches your knowledge and experience but also adds a distinctive edge to your college applications. It shows colleges that you’re motivated, curious, and ready to take on challenges, qualities that are highly valued in the college admissions process.

In conclusion, don’t overlook the potential of lesser-known summer programs when preparing for college. These hidden gems can provide you with invaluable experiences, personal growth, and a standout application. Whether your interests lie in science, the arts, technology, or any other field, there’s likely a summer program out there that matches your passions and can help pave the way to your dream college. Remember, it’s not always the most popular programs that make the biggest impact, but those that best align with your interests and goals.

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