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Prestigious, Tuition-Free Summer Programs

As we’ve mentioned before, summer offers an opportunity not just for rest and relaxation, but also for intellectual exploration. College admissions officers want to admit active, enthusiastic learners, so they look carefully at how students spend their time away from school. For students, this means that it’s important to use the summer to explore an area of academic interest. Advancing their research background or tackling college-level coursework not only allows students to develop a strong background in fields that intrigue them, but also helps them to stand out in an increasingly competitive admissions process.

One particularly easy way to stand out from other prospective college applicants: attend a selective summer program known for its rigorous academic offerings. While the application deadlines for some elite summer programs have already passed, there are still quite a few that are accepting submissions. Below, we’ve listed some of our favorite options — and, as a bonus, all of them are tuition-free!


  • Anson L. Clark Scholars Program: Based at Texas Tech, this summer research program allows qualified juniors and seniors to carry out research in almost any academic area, including the humanities, fine arts, social sciences, natural sciences, and mathematics. In addition to working one-on-one with faculty on collaborative research experiences, admitted students spend seven weeks attending seminars, discussions, and field trips. Scholars receive a $750 stipend for attending the program, as well as free room and board. Applications due February 10th.
  • Adroit Journal Summer Mentorship Program: This free, online, highly selective program pairs experienced writers with high school students hoping to learn about the creative writing process. The program itself is flexible and often takes place through informal correspondence, but admitted students have a chance to share their work with mentors and peers on a weekly or biweekly basis. Application not yet open.
  • MITES: MIT’s Minority Introduction to Engineering and Sciences (MITES) program offers six weeks of academic enrichment programming for rising high-school seniors with an interest in science and engineering. Admitted students take free courses in math, life sciences, physics, and humanities. The program especially encourages applications from Hispanic, African American, and Native American students, underserved students and students from rural or predominantly minority high schools. Applications due February 1st.
  • Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy: Advanced high school students can apply to participate in City of Hope’s summer research program, which allows students to spend ten weeks working as part of a biomedical research team. Summer Academy students design and work on their own research projects, assisted by physicians, scientists, and post-doctoral students. In addition, students attend weekly seminars and workshops to share their research findings and discuss topics ranging from poster presentations to biomedical ethics. Most students are paid a $4,000 stipend for their work during this internship. Applications due March 9th.
  • Wistar High School Fellowship in Biomedical Research: The Wistar Institute, which focuses on early-stage discovery science in cancer, immunology, and infectious disease, offers Philadelphia-area students an opportunity to carry out biomedical research. During this seven-week program, students are integrated into a research lab and work on unique projects under the guidance of a team of mentors. They also attend weekly seminars and take part in an introduction to library research skills. Applications due March 27th.

Struggling to figure out what you should do this summer? Worried that you’ve missed the boat on applications? Consider enrolling in our Application Boot Camp program, which offers a personalized Admissions Report to guide you in selecting courses, preparing for standardized tests, identifying important extracurricular opportunities, and, yes, crafting a high-impact plan for the summer months. Let us help you as you navigate this process!

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