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If you’re a teen aiming for a top college, believe it or not, it’s time to plan for summer. Competitive colleges expect much more than excellent grades and test scores. That means it’s essential for teens to develop their interests uniquely and deeply through summer and extracurricular activities, starting in the summer after ninth grade.

Henry David Thoreau

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Summer & Extracurricular Activities


Barnard Pre-College

The summer courses have different start dates. You can see the start dates for each course here.

Applications are open from December 15, 2020 to April 15, 2021. The application fee is $50 and $75 from February 1st on. You can learn more here.

Each summer, hundreds of young women from all around the world come to Barnard’s campus ready to learn and grow with a community of like minded women. Whether your passion is STEM, art, entrepreneurship, writing, or activism, Barnard has a summer institute for you.

Boston College

Two-Week Session Dates:

  • Session 1: Monday, June 21 – Friday, July 2
  • Session 2: Tuesday, July 5 – Friday, July 16
  • Session 3: Monday, July 19- Friday, July 30
  • Session 4: Monday, August 2 – Friday, August 13

Seven-Week, Boston College Honors Dates:

  • Boston College Summer Term 2: Wednesday, July 7 – Friday, August, 20
Registration for summer 2021 opens January 13, 2021. Registration for the two-week online courses will be on a rolling basis until courses are filled.

Students may attend up to four different programs, but may not be enrolled in more than one, two-week program at the same time. Students must be at least 14 years old at the time the program begins to participate.

BCE is offering 12 different two-week, non-credit online programs this summer covering areas such as business and leadership, economics, nonprofit management for social justice, intro to psych and applied neuroscience, college and creative writing and arts and history. The two week programs are open to rising sophomores, juniors and seniors and will run multiple times over an eight-week span.


The summer courses have different start dates. You can see the start dates for each course here.

Applications are open from December 15, 2020 to April 15, 2021. The application fee is $50 and $75 from February 1st on. You can learn more here.

Choose from more than 200 non-credit courses reflecting the wide range of Brown University’s Open Curriculum that challenge you with new perspectives on how you work, how you learn, and how you live.

Carnegie Mellon Pre-College

Varies by program. See available programs here.

  • Preferred Registration Deadline: February 10, 2021
  • Application Deadline: March 17, 2021

Learn more about the applications process here.

Our Pre-College program, which mirrors the undergraduate experience, gives rising juniors and seniors the opportunity to explore their interests while receiving instruction from acclaimed Carnegie Mellon faculty and staff.

Students will have the opportunity to participate in a robust student experience which is curated by Student Affairs staff and a team of residential staff who are current Carnegie Mellon students.

Due to the ongoing considerations related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Pre-College program will be offered only through remote instruction in the summer of 2021.

University of Chicago Summer Session

  • Session I: June 21 – July 08, 2021
  • Session II: July 13 – July 29, 2021

Pre-College Programs with Multiple Deadlines:

  • Priority Deadline: January 20, 2021
  • Regular Deadline: February 24, 2021
  • Extended Deadline: April 1

Pre-College Programs with a Single Deadline:

  • March 1, 2021

Learn more about the applications process here.

Immerse yourself in one of your passions and take advantage of the rich educational resources offered by the University through our summer Immersion programs for high school students. In these undergraduate-level courses, you will get personalized attention from faculty, researchers, and other professionals who will lead you through workshop discussions, research projects, and other activities.

We invite prospective UChicago Summer Session pre-college students and parents to attend a virtual Information Session about our Summer 2021 programs, which will be delivered via the remote teaching model in response to the continued COVID-19 outbreak. Presenters at the Information Sessions will provide an overview of online curriculum and instructional models, online community building, and technology issues.

The Information Sessions will be held during the following dates and times:

  • Register here: Wednesday, January 6, 2021 – 7:00pm Central US time
  • Register here: Saturday, February 6, 2021 – 11:00am Central US time
  • Register here: Friday, March 5, 2021 – 7:00pm Central US time

All Information Sessions will cover the same information. A recording of the session will also be posted to our Summer 2021 website.

Columbia Pre-College

Varies by program. See available programs here.

  • Early Registration Deadline: February 11
  • Application Fee Waiver Deadline: March 4
  • Application Deadline: April 1

Learn more about the applications process here.

Participants select one curricular option per session for an in-depth examination of a specific subject area. Classes meet twice each day for two-hour sessions where students refine their academic skills through a variety of activities—class discussions, debates, simulations, individual and group projects, and more.Housing will not be available for Summer 2021. Students who are unable to commute to campus may wish to consider one of our online summer programs.

Duke Pre-College’s 3-Week Online Program

Courses are 3 weeks in length.

  • Session II: June 28 – July 16, 2021
  • Session III: July 19 – August 6, 2021
  • Session II Deadline: June 9, 2021
  • Session III Deadline: June 30, 2021

We invite you to choose from a selection of online, enrichment courses from across the curriculum. This year courses will incorporate the theme of “resilience in evolving times” and how academic communities at Duke and beyond embrace resilience through innovative ideas, research, and practices.

Each course includes a series of synchronous and asynchronous sessions, Monday – Friday, with meeting times to fit your schedule. Join an active online learning community and participate in discussions, projects, and demonstrations that will enrich your summer. Connect with Duke University faculty, staff, and resources and do a deep dive into fascinating subject area content. Experience the academic rigor and legacy of Duke through our 3-Week Online Program!

Georgetown Academies

Summer courses range in duration from 1 to 3 weeks. Their start days vary.

  • 1-Week Academies start dates are between June 13–August 7, 2021
  • 2-Week Academies start dates are between June 27–July 30, 2021
  • 3-Week Academies start dates are between June 20–August 6, 2021

Applications for Summer 2021 are now open. If you submit your application by our priority deadline of Feb. 1st, there will be no application fee. Applications will be reviewed until the courses have filled. You can learn more about applying here.

Our 1-Week, 2-Week, and 3-Week Academies will take you on a virtual accelerated learning experience. You’ll examine a single subject area through collaborative online exercises and simulations, group discussions and virtual presentations from industry leaders.

Harvard Pre-College Program

Harvard Summer School Pre-College Program students can choose from three sessions in 2021:

  • Session I: June 27-July 9
  • Session II: July 11-July 23
  • Session III: July 25-August 6

Application for the two-week Pre-College Program is now open!

The Harvard Pre-College Program is an immersive, collaborative, and transformative experience. Alongside peers from around the world, you’ll thrive in a dynamic and supportive academic environment.

Medill Cherubs – Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute

From June 28 to July 23.

Application deadline is March 15, 2021.

Cherubs is more than a journalism camp. We immerse ourselves in media for five weeks. We study writing, reporting and editing for print, digital and broadcast. We take pictures, edit videos, and create websites and podcasts. We make lifelong friends. As our instructors say, “Welcome to the best summer of your life.”

Notre Dame Pre-College

  • Summer Scholars Program: June 26 – July 10, 2021
  • Summer Scholars Online Program: July 14 – 27, 2021
  • Leadership Seminars: July 17 – 28, 2021
  • Study Abroad: Varies
  • Global Scholars Program: March 15 – April 24, 2021
  • Summer Scholars Deadline: February 16, 2021
  • Summer Scholars Online Deadline: February 16, 2021
  • Leadership Seminars Deadline: January 25, 2021
  • Study Abroad: Varies
  • Global Scholars Program Deadline: February 1, 2021

Notre Dame offers exceptional high school students a true college experience on campus, abroad, and virtually! Earn college credit through stimulating seminars, explore research with Notre Dame faculty, and live in a residence hall community.

Summer Discovery online

The summer courses have different start dates with Session I from June 7 – June 18. You can see the start dates for each course here.

Apply and enroll at any time but if you enroll before December 18, 2020, you’ll get $300 off your program. Learn more here.

Get a meaningful educational experience and start to build the foundation for a competitive college application. With Summer Discovery Online, you can choose what you want to learn and explore! No more being told what you have to learn. You pick what excites you!

UC Santa Barbara Summer Sessions

  • Research Mentorship Program (RMP) Dates: June 20 – July 30, 2021
  • Summer Research Academies (SRA) Dates: June 27 – July 23, 2021

UC Santa Barbara Summer Sessions offers a variety of Pre-College Programs that provide students with unique opportunities to earn college credit while in high school. The Research Mentorship Program and the Summer Research Academies allow participants to deep-dive into an interdisciplinary subject while discovering new knowledge through university-level research.

Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS)

You can enroll one or all course sessions.

  • Session I is from June 21-July 3
  • Session II is from July 5 – July 17
  • Session III is from July 19-July 31

You can see the courses offered in each session at the bottom of this page.

EA deadline is 11:59PM ET on November 10, 2020. RD deadline is 11:59pm ET on January 12, 2021. You can learn more about the application deadlines here.

YYGS is an academic enrichment program for outstanding high school students from around the world. Each summer, students from over 130 countries (including all 50 U.S. states) participate in one interdisciplinary, two-week session. Given that it is not possible to offer a globally represented campus experience, YYGS staff have worked hard to make our virtual program, YYGS Connect, a collaborative, engaging, and enriching experience. We encourage you to view the recording of our YYGS Connect webinar and visit our YouTube channel to hear more about the program directly from Yale faculty lecturers, Yale graduate and undergraduate instructors, and YYGS Connect alumni.


Blue Stamp Summer

Programs are 4.5 hours/day for 2-6 weeks. Start date varies by location:

  • San Francisco: June 22 – July 31
  • Palo Alto: June 15 – July 24
  • New York: June 29 – August 7

Blue Stamp accepts applications under rolling admissions until all seats are filled. Please note that applicants are interviewed prior to receiving an admission decision. Since applicants are interviewed as their applications are received, we recommend that students apply as early as possible. Learn more here.

Hands-on engineering camp where high school students design and create technology projects, that they get to keep, from scratch! Past projects include omnidirectional robots, smart gardens, CNC drawing machines, and self-driving cars! Each student selects and builds their own individual projects and develops a personal online portfolio that details their journey.

Boston Leadership Institute

Start date varies by summer program. You can see the start dates here.

  • One-week programs do not require an application. They are open to students who perform at grade level or above.
  • Three-week programs are competitive and require students to fill out an application. We accept students on a rolling admissions basis. Both the parent and the student will receive an email informing the family of our decision within approximately 7-10 days’ time.

Boston Leadership Institute offers a variety of award-winning STEM programs for eighth-graders and above. It offers one-week and three-week programs in: Science, Engineering/Tech, Medicine, and Business.


July 6 – July 31, 2021
  • Online Application Opens: January 20, 2021 at 8:00 AM
  • Online Application Closes: February 19, 2021 at 5:00 PM (continues unsupported until 11:59pm): Completed online application, parent/guardian signature(s), application fee ($30), financial aid application (optional) must be submitted electronically by this date

Learn more here.

California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science (COSMOS) is an intensive four-week summer program for talented and motivated students completing grades 8-12. Students will have the opportunity to work with renowned faculty, researchers and scientists while exploring advanced STEM topics far beyond the courses usually offered in California high schools.

Rosetta Biomedical Summer Camps

Summer start dates vary by program/course. Click here to see programs/courses and their start-dates.

There is no application deadline, but students are encouraged to apply as soon as possible because suitable candidates are accepted on a rolling basis. Learn more here.

We provide advanced classes for high achieving high school/middle school students interested in pursuing a career in medicine or related fields, such as biomedical research, drug development, pharmacy or nursing.

Stanford Cardiovascular Internship

Program 1: June 28 – July 9, 2021

Program 2: July 19 – July 30, 2021

Application window is from January 4, 2021 to March 21, 2021.

This summer internship is an elective course for high school students that will provide exposure to the steps in basic and advanced cardiothoracic surgery techniques (e.g., knot tying, dissection, suturing, coronary artery bypass graft, and cardiac valve replacement). Throughout this course, the emphasis is placed on interactive, hands-on learning.

Stanford EXPLORE Lecture Series

The program dates are July 12-30, 2021 (3 weeks) and the schedule is 9:00 am-12:00 pm daily. We are planning to have a virtual zoom program for the summer of 2021 for all 3 week.

We encourage you to sign up for all 3 weeks but you may also sign up for just 1, 2 or 3 weeks.  The topics for each week are:

  • July 12-16: Immunology/Neuroscience
  • July 19-23: Stem Cell/Cancer
  • July 26-30: Bioinformatics/Bioengineering

Online registration begins March 1st, 2021 and will continue until all slots for each week are filled. When the slots are filled, this will be noted on the homepage.

The Stanford Explore Lecture Series is an exploratory series covering the basic fundamentals and current research areas represented by the various research areas of the Stanford School of Medicine (Immunology, Neuroscience, Cardiovascular Medicine, Regenerative and Stem Cell Medicine, Cancer Biology, Bioengineering, Bioinformatics and Genetics). The lectures will be taught by Stanford Faculty, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows. We are planning to have a virtual zoom program for the summer of 2021.

Summer STEM Institute (SSI)

June 20 to August 1, 2021 (6 weeks)

Early Action: January 15, 2021
Regular Decision: April 16, 2021
Learn more here.

SSI is an international program that provides academically talented and highly motivated students the opportunity to learn through a data science and research bootcamp, a Masterclass lecture series, weekend challenges, and a mentored research project.

UCSC Science Internship Program (SIP)

The key dates of the program are the following:

Online component of programJune 8–19
Kickoff and orientationJune 21
In-person component of programJune 21–Aug. 15
Final presentation dayAug. 15

Click here for more info.

The application portal opens March 2 and the deadline is March 25 (5:00 pm PDT). For more information about the application process click here.

UCSC faculty, graduate students, and post-doctoral researchers provide one-on-one mentoring of high-school interns in STEM fields. The research projects are real in that they are not made up just for the high-school students; instead students are inserted into existing research projects here at UCSC.


California State Summer School for Arts (CSSSA)

July 10 – August 6, 2021 / 4-week program

February 26, 2020 (6:00 pm PST)

CSSSA is a rigorous pre-professional training program in the visual and performing arts, creative writing, animation, and film for talented artists of high school age. CSSSA provides a supportive environment in which students hone acquired skills and explore new techniques and ideas for an intense and exciting learning experience.

Interlochen Arts Camp

IntensivesJune 19 – 25
First SessionJune 26 – July 17
Second SessionJuly 18 – Aug. 8

Application Window: October 15 – Jan. 14.

Located in beautiful northwest Michigan, Interlochen Arts Camp offers summer programs for grades 3-12. Each summer, we welcome over 2,500 students from all over the world to study one of our seven arts areas: creative writing, dance, interdisciplinary arts, film and new media, music, theatre, and visual arts.

SAIC High School Programs

Start date varies by course.

We offer high school-aged students multiple ways to engage their creative interests and explore a variety of media. Our programs also provide a great way for students wishing to apply to an art and design school to prepare portfolio-ready work.

Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference

June 27 – July 10, 2021

Early Decision: Nov. 16
Early Action: Dec. 1
Regular Decision: Feb. 1

Learn more about the application process here.

High school students can enjoy workshops in fiction, poetry and creative nonfiction during this residential summer program. Other highlights include lectures by the university’s English faculty.


Asian Pacific Islander American Public Affairs (APAPA)

Members can join and volunteer with APAPA at any time.

We foster future leaders from minority communities to serve at federal, state, and local levels in the government.

Santa Clara County Democratic Party

We ask that interns commit to a 3 month session at a minimum.

  • 2.5 hours/week during the school year
  • 5 hours/week during the summer

We accept applications on a rolling basis.

The SCCDP is looking for passionate, hard-working student leaders interested in gaining hands-on experience in Democratic politics.


AMIGOS Community Impact Project

March 9–May 1, 2021. Approximately 4 hours per week. Choose the schedule that works for you!

Financial assistance deadline: Dec. 15, 2021
Application deadline Feb. 16, 2021

This innovative initiative enables you to channel your energy into working with other young leaders across the U.S. and Latin America. You’ll create projects that address our most pressing issues during this global crisis and you’ll build a network of like-minded individuals committed to creating positive change.

Columbia Academic Year Immersion

  • Fall 2020: Oct. 17–Dec. 20, 2020
  • Spring 2021: Jan. 16–Mar. 21, 2021
  • Spring 2021 Application Deadline: Dec. 14, 2020

For more information about the application process click here.

Through the Academic Year Immersion program, high schoolers will prepare for the college experience through exploratory coursework and community activities over ten weekends.

Inspirit AI

Winter Break ProgramDec. 2020/Jan. 2021
Spring Semester ProgramJan. 2021 – March or April 2021

The program runs for 10 sessions of 2.5 hours each.

Application Deadlines:

  • Winter Break Program: Dec. 11, 2020
  • Spring Semester Program: Dec. 31, 2020

Applications are processed on a rolling basis. Limited seats.

AI Scholars Live Online is a 10 session program that exposes high school students to fundamental AI concepts and guides them to build a socially impactful project. Taught by our team of graduate students from Stanford University, students receive a personalized learning experience in small groups with a student-teacher ratio of 4:1.

Scholar Launch

Contact them by filling out their contact form here or emailing them at:

Contact them by filling out their contact form here or emailing them at:

Scholar Launch offers both one-on-one and small seminar format opportunities for students to engage in graduate-level learning and produce publishable or otherwise impactful work product under the tutelage of an instructor who has taught or led at one of the world’s pre-eminent learning centers.


Varies by course.

You can enroll at any time.

We do after school programs, in-house coding academy programs in multiple locations in the Bay area.

Need help applying to summer programs? Take a look at our college planning services and contact us today!

About the Author: Amy Morgenstern

Dr. Amy Morgenstern, affectionately known as Dr. M, is the founder and CEO of Blue Stars Admissions Consulting. She holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and an MFA in contemporary art. A former professor of philosophy, honors program associate director, and assistant to the director of the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture, Dr. M brings a wealth of academic and multicultural experience to her practice.

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