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15 Summer Programs for High School Students in Virginia

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

skyline of a college town in Charlottesville, Virginia

15 Summer Programs for High School Students in Virginia

Summer programs for high school students in Virginia are designed to enrich, educate, and inspire the next generation. These programs span various disciplines, from science and technology to arts and leadership, allowing students to dive deep into their interests or explore new ones.

Whether you’re looking to get a head start on college preparations, keen on advancing your STEM skills, or eager to explore the creative arts, Virginia’s summer offerings have something for everyone. The programs focus on academic enrichment and personal growth, leadership development, and preparing students for their careers.

1. Black College Institute at Virginia Tech

  • Field: Academic Enrichment for Underrepresented Students
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Highly competitive; specific eligibility not detailed
  • Important Dates: Not specified; historically, the program has been a four-day event.

The Black College Institute at Virginia Tech stands out among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, offering a distinctive, cost-free academic enrichment opportunity that broadens access and opportunities for underrepresented and minority students.

Located at the esteemed Virginia Tech campus, this four-day program is designed to foster an environment where students can explore various academic fields through workshops and hands-on experiences.

Furthermore, it provides invaluable support with the college application process and includes a service learning component, enhancing students’ personal and academic development. The program’s competitive nature is evident from its high application volume, with over 1,200 applicants vying for spots in recent cohorts.

Despite its brief duration, the Black College Institute’s impact is profound, providing participants with a rich, immersive learning experience that prepares them for future academic and career success. This initiative underscores Virginia Tech’s commitment to diversity and inclusion, making it a pivotal part of the landscape of summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

2. VCU’s Dental Careers Exploration

  • Field: Dentistry
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Richmond area high schoolers, U.S. citizens/permanent residents, completed 9th grade, minimum GPA of 3.0
  • Important Dates: July 17-21.

VCU’s Dental Careers Exploration program is a standout among summer programs for Virginia high school students, particularly those interested in pursuing a career in dentistry. Hosted at Virginia Commonwealth University, this no-cost, commuter-based initiative is specifically designed for U.S. citizens or permanent residents who are high school students from the Richmond area.

a dentist demonstrating to his students inside a clinic

Eligible participants must have completed at least the 9th grade and maintain a minimum GPA 3.0. The program is scheduled to run from July 17 to July 21 and offers a comprehensive dentistry introduction through interactive workshops and lab activities.

These activities are thoughtfully crafted to include a variety of hands-on experiences such as tooth carving, suturing, and exploring the nuances of digital dentistry, thereby providing students with a practical glimpse into the dental profession.

By focusing on immersive learning experiences, the Dental Careers Exploration program aims to inspire and educate future dental professionals, making it a pivotal opportunity within the array of summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

3. Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’ Youth Leadership Academy

  • Field: Leadership for Students with Disabilities
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a disability as defined by the ADA
  • Important Dates: Second or third week of July.

The Virginia Board for People with Disabilities’ Youth Leadership Academy is a unique and empowering opportunity among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, targeting those with developmental or other disabilities.

Diverse group of students with young man in wheelchair

This free program is meticulously designed to enhance leadership skills and social abilities and provide interactions with role models and government officials, including a distinctive Capitol Day experience.

Scheduled to occur in the second or third week of July, with the exact location yet to be announced, the academy invites rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors who meet the eligibility criteria based on the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

This competitive program selects only 25 students, offering them an engaging platform to develop leadership competencies through various activities. The Youth Leadership Academy is a critical initiative, fostering an inclusive environment where young individuals with disabilities can thrive and prepare for future leadership roles. It is a crucial part of Virginia’s summer programs for high school students​.

4. Virginia Earth System Science Scholars (VESSS) Program

  • Field: Climate Change and Earth Systems
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors, Virginia residents, U.S. citizens, minimum GPA of 2.7
  • Important Dates: Online component from December to April; Summer residency in June and July.

The Virginia Earth System Science Scholars (VESSS) Program emerges as a premier educational initiative within the spectrum of summer programs for high school students in Virginia, focusing on climate change and Earth systems science.

Two women smiling on a camera

This distinctive program, organized by the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, marries an online course from December to April with a culminating summer residency at NASA Langley Research Center. Eligible for high school juniors and seniors who are Virginia residents and U.S. citizens with a minimum GPA of 2.7, VESSS offers a free, rigorous exploration into the dynamics of Earth’s climate system through interactive modules led by NASA researchers.

The program’s structure allows students to delve into NASA-related research and data, culminating in a team project to design a satellite mission exploring Earth systems during the summer residency. The dual-component nature of VESSS – blending online learning with hands-on project work – equips students with a deep understanding of climate science and its real-world applications.

This creates a compelling educational experience that stands out among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, aiming to inspire the next generation of Earth system scientists​.

5. NOVA’s Bridge Programs in Computer Science/Information Technology and Engineering Technology

  • Field: Computer Science/Information Technology and Engineering
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Graduating seniors and current juniors
  • Important Dates: June 20-29 and July 17-28.

NOVA’s Bridge Programs in Computer Science/Information Technology and Engineering Technology distinguish themselves as key initiatives within the realm of summer programs for high school students in Virginia, designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to these fast-evolving fields.

students looking out into the university

These cost-free, two-week programs are held at Northern Virginia Community College and cater to current juniors and graduating seniors, offering two distinct tracks that align with students’ interests and career aspirations.

The Computer Science/Information Technology track gives participants a hands-on opportunity to engage with hardware by assembling a desktop computer and installing an operating system, then exploring cybersecurity and artificial intelligence using the hardware they assembled.

Participants visit industry partners, gain insights into the field, and even have the chance to earn their OSHA 10 certification. This program not only equips students with practical skills and knowledge but also offers a glimpse into potential career paths in these industries, making it an invaluable part of summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

6. Knowledge for Freedom Summer Program at Hollins University

  • Field: Women’s Leadership and History
  • Cost: Free
  • Eligibility: Women, rising juniors, or seniors in a Roanoke area high school
  • Important Dates: July 9-22.

The Knowledge for Freedom Summer Program at Hollins University is an exemplary model among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, explicitly aimed at empowering young women from the Roanoke area who are entering their junior or senior year of high school.

Two young Asian girls students are consulting together

This residential program, which is free of charge, delves into the theme ‘Purpose and Power: Women Shaping History,’ providing participants with a deep dive into the contributions of women to society and their roles in shaping historical narratives.

Scheduled to run from July 9 to July 22, the program combines rigorous academic study with support for the college application process. It offers participants an enriching educational experience and practical assistance in planning their future academic pursuits.

By residing on campus, participants get a taste of college life, fostering independence and a sense of community among peers with similar interests and aspirations. This initiative reflects Hollins University’s commitment to education and leadership development for young women, positioning it as a significant opportunity within the summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

7. Summer Residential Governor’s Schools

  • Field: Various (Arts, Humanities, STEM)
  • Cost: Information not provided
  • Eligibility: Information not provided
  • Important Dates: Information not provided.

The Summer Residential Governor’s Schools in Virginia represent a cornerstone among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, offering immersive educational experiences across various disciplines.

Group of students walking in the campus.

These programs are specifically designed for high school juniors and seniors who demonstrate exceptional talent and a keen interest in subjects ranging from visual and performing arts to humanities, medicine and health sciences, and STEM fields.

Hosted at various universities and colleges throughout the state, these programs provide an intensive academic curriculum and foster an environment where students can explore their passions deeply and connect with like-minded peers.

Participants have the unique opportunity to work closely with professional experts, engage in specialized studies, and participate in hands-on activities beyond the traditional high school curriculum.

8. National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) at Virginia Tech

  • Field: Leadership and Career Exploration
  • Cost: $3,895 for Aerospace; $3,995 for Veterinary Medicine
  • Eligibility: High school students
  • Important Dates: Various sessions in June and July.

The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) at Virginia Tech is a pivotal inclusion among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, offering an immersive pre-college experience that prepares students for academic and life challenges beyond high school.

berkeley alumni

Hosted in the engaging setting of Blacksburg, Virginia, the NSLC provides high school students with the opportunity to explore future careers, experience life on a college campus, and develop core leadership skills, all within the supportive environment of Virginia Tech’s community.

The program’s focus spans various fields, including aerospace and veterinary medicine, demonstrating its commitment to catering to diverse interests and aspirations. Participants must reside in campus dormitories, ensuring a comprehensive college experience, complete with meals through campus dining services.

This setup facilitates academic learning and fosters personal growth and independence among attendees. The NSLC’s dedication to offering hands-on experiences, where students can learn directly from industry professionals and engage in career exploration, marks it as a significant opportunity within summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

9. Virginia Tech Science Camps

  • Field: Various Sciences
  • Cost: Information not provided
  • Eligibility: Rising 7th-10th graders
  • Important Dates: June 24-27 for 9th-10th graders; June 30-July 3 for 7th-8th graders.

The Virginia Tech Science Camps are a remarkable series of educational opportunities among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, designed to immerse participants in the fascinating world of science.

High school students building and programming electric toys and robots at robotics classroom

Hosted by the College of Science at Virginia Tech, these camps offer a dynamic, hands-on approach to learning, allowing students to delve into various scientific disciplines, from physics to psychology and everything in between.

The camps are structured to provide theoretical knowledge and engage students in practical experiments, problem-solving activities, and real-life applications of scientific principles. Participants can work with Virginia Tech faculty, researchers, and fellow science enthusiasts, fostering an environment of collaboration and discovery.

By living in dorms and experiencing life on a college campus, attendees get a preview of college life, enhancing their readiness for future academic endeavors. These camps exemplify Virginia Tech’s commitment to promoting science education and preparing the next generation of scientists, making them a key component of summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

10. Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE) at George Mason University

  • Field: Environmental Science
  • Cost: $2,500
  • Eligibility: High schoolers (rising juniors and seniors)
  • Important Dates: June 23-28, 2024

The Washington Youth Summit on the Environment (WYSE) at George Mason University is a premier summer program offered for high school students in Virginia, specifically tailored for those with a keen interest in environmental science and conservation.

Four cheerful students sitting together at the desk and studying while one man looking over shoulder and smiling

This week-long experiential learning program stands out for its integrated and forward-thinking approach to environmental issues. It provides high school juniors and seniors with an unparalleled opportunity to gain in-depth knowledge directly from industry leaders, international conservation experts, research scientists, and insiders from Washington, D.C.

The curriculum is designed to offer hands-on learning experiences that educate and inspire participants to take actionable steps toward environmental stewardship. Engaging with professionals and experts in the field exposes students to a broad spectrum of perspectives and solutions to current environmental challenges.

WYSE’s immersive environment encourages students to explore their passions for the environment while equipping them with the tools and knowledge to make a significant impact in their communities and beyond. As such, it represents a critical component of summer programs for high school students in Virginia, aiming to develop the next generation of environmental leaders.

11. George Mason Institute of Forensics (GMIF)

  • Field: Forensics
  • Cost: Information not provided
  • Eligibility: Information not provided
  • Important Dates: Summer 2023 dates are mentioned; they are not specific to 2024.

The George Mason Institute of Forensics (GMIF) is a notable highlight among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, offering an immersive experience in forensics and public speaking.

Some forensic evidence of murder at Laboratory

Hosted by George Mason University, this program has built a reputation for excellence, drawing students who wish to deepen their understanding and skills in forensic science and debate. GMIF provides an enriching curriculum led by some of the most accomplished minds in the field, ensuring a low faculty-to-student ratio for personalized instruction.

Participants are not only introduced to the fundamentals of forensics but are also trained to develop a tournament-ready piece, achieving a comprehensive understanding of their craft and personal expression.

This intensive training environment fosters growth, confidence, and expertise, preparing students for success in competitions and beyond. GMIF’s dedication to nurturing talent and providing high-quality education makes it a pivotal option for students looking to explore their interests in forensics, setting it apart as a distinguished program within the array of summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

12. Mason Game & Technology Academy (MGTA)

  • Field: Game Design, Programming, STEM
  • Cost: Information not provided
  • Eligibility: Ages 10 and up
  • Important Dates: Varies by specific course

The Mason Game & Technology Academy (MGTA) is a hallmark within summer programs for Virginia high school students, particularly those fascinated by the intersection of game design, programming, and the broader realm of STEM fields.

Taking an exam

Hosted by George Mason University, MGTA is part of the Virginia Serious Game Institute (VSGI) and the Mason Computer Game Design Program, both renowned for their contributions to educational and technological advancements.

This program is unique in its approach, offering virtual and in-person classes catering to a wide age range, starting from 10 years old. MGTA’s curriculum is meticulously crafted to inspire students to pursue advanced studies and careers in STEM by providing them with personalized instruction from university faculty and leading students.

Participants are introduced to various topics, including game design using Unity and C#, art modeling and animation, Python programming, machine learning/AI, and Roblox game development. This immersive learning experience equips students with technical skills and fosters creativity, problem-solving abilities, and a passion for technology.

13. Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC) at George Mason University

  • Field: Journalism and Media
  • Cost: $2,500. The online payment plan divides the tuition into equal monthly installments beginning with the day you register for WJMC.
  • Eligibility: High schoolers (rising juniors and seniors)
  • Important Dates: July 7-12, 2024 (1st session) and July 14-19, 2024 (2nd session)

The Washington Journalism and Media Conference (WJMC) at George Mason University is an exceptional feature among summer programs for high school students in Virginia, specifically designed for those with a profound interest in journalism and media.

Close up of students taking an exam.

This week-long program offers high school juniors and seniors a deep dive into the world of media, providing them with a comprehensive overview of journalism’s current state and future directions.

Participants have the rare opportunity to learn directly from industry leaders, award-winning journalists, and insiders from major media outlets in Washington, D.C., ensuring an educational experience that is both broad and deeply immersive.

The curriculum is crafted to offer hands-on learning experiences, encouraging students to engage actively with the material and apply their new knowledge in practical settings. This approach enhances their understanding of journalistic practices and instills a sense of responsibility and ethics crucial for future media professionals.

14. Mason Math Odyssey

  • Field: Mathematics
  • Cost: Information not provided
  • Eligibility: Rising 6th to 9th graders
  • Important Dates: July 8, 2024 – July 12, 2024

The Mason Math Odyssey is an enriching and intellectually stimulating offering among summer programs for high school students in Virginia. Hosted by George Mason University’s Mathematical Sciences Department, this unique program targets rising 6th to 9th graders with a curriculum designed to explore beautiful mathematical concepts not typically covered in the K-12 system.

man is studying for his exam, solving math problems to practice.

Participants are invited on an exciting journey through geometry, topology, number theory, probability, algebra, and mathematical modeling. The program emphasizes fun and friendly team competitions, encouraging students to develop problem-solving, collaboration, and communication skills.

Through hands-on activities, guest lectures, and group projects, attendees are exposed to Olympiad-style problems and mathematical puzzles, culminating in peer and instructor-judged presentations.

The Mason Math Odyssey is not just about learning advanced mathematical concepts; it’s about fostering a love for mathematics and demonstrating its beauty and applicability, making it a standout choice for young learners looking for summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

15. Student Media Summer Podcast and Radio Camp at George Mason University

  • Field: Podcasting/Radio
  • Cost: $375/week
  • Eligibility: Ages 12–17
  • Important Dates: July 8-12, 2024

The Student Media Summer Podcast and Radio Camp at George Mason University emerges as a creative and engaging option within the plethora of summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

a male podcaster on air

This innovative camp is designed for individuals aged 12 to 17 interested in the intricate world of podcasting and radio broadcasting. It offers hands-on training in a professional radio environment, allowing participants to dive into producing their podcasts and even take on the role of a deejay.

Under the guidance of broadcast professionals, students learn to write, edit, and produce podcasts, along with managing a live DJ show. The program also covers the production of commercials, promos, and public service announcements, providing a comprehensive insight into the world of audio media.

By the end of the camp, students are well-equipped with the skills to create engaging audio content, making this program a unique and valuable addition to the summer programs for high school students in Virginia.

Conclusion

As we conclude this exploration of summer programs for high school students in Virginia, it’s clear that the opportunities are as diverse and rich as the state itself. Each program is uniquely tailored to foster learning, creativity, and leadership, ensuring that every participant comes away with valuable skills, new friends, and unforgettable memories.

These programs prepare students for their academic and professional futures and allow them to experience life on college campuses, meet industry experts, and engage in hands-on learning. Virginia’s summer programs are a testament to the state’s commitment to educational excellence and the development of young minds.

So, whether you’re drawn to the sciences, passionate about the arts, or ready to enhance your leadership skills, Virginia offers a summer experience that promises to be enriching and transformative.

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