Ah, summer. It’s an exciting time, full of opportunities for both relaxation and exploration. We are thrilled to share some of our summer favorites with you: first, links to 20 of our favorite summer programs; then, databases to help you find even more summer opportunities. But before we get to the lists, we wanted to offer a brief thought on “summer.”
Your parents might have grown up with memories of carefree summers filled with family trips...or that first experience of employment that is the summer job. I still don’t eat cotton candy because of how much I made and served at my summer job at an amusement park in the Adirondacks!
However, summer is defined somewhat differently for your generation. There are both pluses and minuses: on one hand, there are opportunities for exploration and engagement at every level, in a range of subjects beyond your parents’ imagination. And there is research that positively supports teens being engaged during the summer months.
But we also know from parents we work with at Signet that there is also growing pressure for you to be, not just engaged intellectually, but enrolled in a specific program or pursuing a particular interest to the max in the belief that it maximizes your high school opportunities and/or benefits you during the college admissions process.
At Signet, we believe strongly that a family’s summer should be defined by the family, not by outside pressure. So if it is important or necessary that you get a job, that’s what you should do. If your family values service, travel together, or downtime, we promise you will not be at a disadvantage if you pursue that.
We encourage you to step away from the idea that there is an objectively correct choice about how to spend your summer, or that summer needs to “count” toward something (e.g., the college application process). We can assure you that what is “right” for you is best defined by...you. (And your family, of course.)
The only summer “plan” we hesitate to endorse is one we call the “summer slump” or “summer slide,” where there’s so little activity that you actually lose academic skills from the school year, or where there’s no growth or exploration in your areas of interest. Not only do we believe that summer should be time well spent (whether that means an academic program, travel, a job, or other kinds of exploration), a summer without some sort of a plan will likely end up driving everyone crazy, including you!
So we hope you enjoy this list, and please do reach out to us to share any favorites of yours. We had fun putting this together!
Top 20 Favorite Summer Programs from the Signet Team:
1. PROMYS at Boston University: A six-week summer program designed to encourage strongly motivated high school students to explore the creative world of mathematics.
2. Investigating Genetic Engineering and GMOs at UMass Amherst: For students interested in understanding modern biotechnology, who agree that that “genetic engineering is just cool.”
3. Economics for Leaders (EFL): A selective summer program that teaches young leaders how to integrate economics into the process of decision-making in a hands-on, experiential environment.
4. Vermont Summer Academy Writer’s Workshop: Workshops where budding writers can engage in a multidimensional process designed to build strong creative habits that foster a passion for the written word.
5. Pre-College at Marist: Learn Italian, study fashion design, or attend a pre-law course in Florence and/or New York City, and earn college credit along the way.
6. Military Adventure Camp: Teens who know they want a military career or are considering a military academy will benefit from this high-adventure military career exploration program.
7. Oxford Academic Programs: An opportunity to study throughout the world, including Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Barcelona, Montpellier, New York, Salamanca, St. Andrews, Los Angeles, and Boston.
8. Middlebury Summer Language Academy: Four weeks of language and culture immersion to accelerate progress in—or even master!—a foreign language.
9. Wall Street 101 at Bentley University: Learn about the financial industry and other aspects of business, from NASDAQ to IPO to Dow Jones.
10. Songwriting Workshop at Berklee College of Music: An opportunity to be immersed in the art of songwriting in the heart of Boston. (There are also many other music-related programs at Berklee, including a five-week performance program!)
11. Winterline Global Gastronomy: A delicious cross-cultural exploration of food and hospitality that travels to France, Italy, Spain, Thailand, and Cambodia throughout the summer.
12. Great Books Summer Program: Find friends who love literature as much as you do with this program that’s offered on six of the finest campuses in the world, from Oxford to Dublin to Palo Alto.
13. Wharton Moneyball Academy: Any sports enthusiasts in the house? Dive into the world of sports analytics and statistics.
14. Ringling College of Art + Design: For one full month you can eat, breathe, and live art and design, learning how to be a creative thinker and doer.
15. Adventures in Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University: This program will give you a deeper understanding of the veterinary profession and the demands of veterinary school on Tufts’s beautiful campus. Students also “shadow” fourth-year veterinary students.
16. Summer Art at Skidmore College: This program offers many courses, including one-of-a kind workshops like bookmaking and casting.
17. Pre-College at Brown: Choose from among Brown’s unique one- to seven-week courses such as “So you think you want to be a doctor?,” “The Second Amendment,” and “Ancient Greek Theatre Production.”
18. Fashion Uncovered by Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising: Los Angeles is an ideal location for anyone interested in fashion. Students stay on the UCLA campus and develop their passion for fashion design, graphic design, filmmaking, trend-spotting, styling, and merchandising.
19. Long Lake Performing and Fine Arts camp: This arts camp offers boys and girls ages 8 to 16 freedom to choose their own schedule from a set of subjects that includes Theatrical Arts, Fine Arts, Rock Bands, Circus, Magic, and Comedy.
20. Summer Journalism Workshop at Columbia University: Explore journalism in New York while taking “Reporting and Writing” and “Editorial Leadership.”
If you can’t find a program that’s the right fit, you might want to make your own opportunity—consider what projects you could explore independently or with the help of a friend or mentor. Or you can investigate further, using the awesome search sites below.
Six Databases for Finding the Right Summer Program:
• SUMMER PROGRAM FINDER SPF was founded by a high school teacher in New Jersey. The website is 100% ad-free (always a good sign!) and allows you to search for summer programs that are just right for you. Their blog is also a great resource for finding out how to get the most from summer programs.
• PATHWAYS TO SCIENCE Pathways to Science offers a database of 1212 programs in a variety of disciplines and education levels, including summer opportunities for high school students. It is an invaluable resources for students interested in STEM.
• AMERICAN GAP ASSOCIATION The AGA uses a rigorous rubric to vet all of their partner organizations and ensure that your experience will be both enriching and safe. While not all of the programs listed are available in the summer, the AGA has a stunning variety of programs that will certainly help your search.
• TEENLIFE TeenLife offers a simple search interface that allows you to find summer programs by region and interest. For instance, type in “creative writing” and “Kentucky” and TeenLife’s engine produces a list of summer writing programs in Kentucky.
• ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS IN NEW ENGLAND For those of you in New England, AISNE has put together a great list of regional summer programs for high school students.
• COLLEGE websites. If you have your heart set on a particular campus, information about summer programs can often be found on that university’s website. Simply search the site or google “[UNIVERSITY NAME]” and “summer program” or “pre-college program” to find out more.
These resources should give you plenty of avenues to discover a great summer program. if you have any questions during your search, please do contact us. We would be glad to help you brainstorm some opportunities!