Insider Tips

Summer Enrichment Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive

Some of the best summer experiences don’t have a big price tag. Get creative and think outside of the box.  Rather than just signing up for a costly summer program, why not take advantage of opportunities that cover your fees or create opportunities to deepen your academic interests by assisting a local professor with his or her research? Are you an expert at something? Teach it to younger students. If you are a poet, launch a poetry workshop for younger students, submit your poetry to local and national publications, and start a poetry writing group in your community.

Take initiative!

Sure, programs like Research Science Institute (RSI) and Telluride are super competitive, but plan now for the summer and do what it takes to win an all expenses-paid opportunity for an academic summer like no other AND stand out when applying to college.

Research summer programs with merit scholarships and financial aid, and get going before applications are due this spring.

Here are some to get you started, and our (updated as of March 2016!) Ultimate Guide to Top High School Summer Programs has plenty more opportunities organized by field:

Barnard College Summer in the City; New York City, New York
Application Deadline: Rolling admissions so apply NOW
Program Dates: June 26 – July 23, 2016
Description: Students select two courses. Areas of study include acting, literature, architecture, political science, journalism, and more. Once a week students meet with local organizations that, in the past, have included: CNN, MTV, MOMA, the NY Philharmonic and Sotheby’s.
Financial Aid: Barnard offers a number of partial scholarship awards as well as one full scholarship for the program. All scholarships are based on financial need.

Carleton College Summer Program; Northfield, Minnesota
Application Deadline:

  • March 28, 2016 – 2nd Round deadline for general and scholarship applicants (last day to apply for a scholarship for summer 2016)
  • May 12, 2016 – 3rd Round deadline and all applications close

Program Dates: July 10-29, 2016
Description: Liberal Arts: For students of African American descent OR students who have an interest in African American culture. Applicants must be college-bound high school students who are current sophomores. Accepted students receive free room, board, tuition, and travel costs for the one-week CLAE program. Past course offerings have included:

  • DNA Fingerprinting: The Science of Forensics
  • Write Your Way In: Strategies for Success on Your College Application
  • Economics: Tools for Business, Public Policy and Life
  • The Achievement Gap
  • Religion and the Black Freedom Struggle
  • Motown and American Culture

Applications are due April 1, 2016:

Carnegie Mellon Pre-College Summer Program; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Application Deadline: April 1
Program Dates: June 25 – August 6
Description: We love this program for students who are passionate about art and design. Engage in studio work, art workshops, gallery showings and portfolio reviews with faculty.
Financial Aid: Financial and merit-based scholarships are available to select students who have been accepted into the Art & Design program. They must complete the scholarship application and submit a digital portfolio by May 1.

Colorado State University Native Education Forum; Fort Collins, Colorado
Application Deadline: TBA
Program Dates: June 7-11
Description: The Native Education Forum is a five-day program for rising high school juniors and seniors. Students will gain university classroom experience, earn one academic credit, research issues critical to Native American/Indigenous communities. While on campus, students will have the chance to interact with university faculty, staff and currently enrolled students as they discuss and evaluate important issues that affect Indigenous communities. Students do not have to be Native American to attend. The program is free, excluding transportation costs, and requires a 2.8 high school GPA or higher.

Davidson July Experience; Davidson, North Carolina
Application Deadline: March 31
Program Dates: July 3-23, 2016
Description: A pre-college summer academic experience for rising high school juniors and seniors. Students take two liberal arts courses, but not for credit. Sample courses in 2016 are:

  • Romare Bearden: Art and Identity (Art)
  • The Family and Justice (Political Science)
  • Understanding the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Did we not learn, 2007-2010 (Economics)
  • Social Movements and Youth (Anthropology)
  • Southern Literature, Violence, and the Problem of Evil (English)

Financial Aid: Scholarships are available to students with financial need. Financial aid is awarded on the basis of need and academic achievement. Financial aid requests should be submitted at the time of the application and are due March 31, 2016.

Emory Pre-College Program; Atlanta, Georgia
Application Deadline: Rolling admissions, so apply now!
Program Dates
Session A (noncredit): June 20 – July 1, 2016
Session B (noncredit): July 5 – July 15, 2016
Session C (noncredit): July 18 – July 29, 2016
Infectious Diseases Institute (noncredit): July 5 – July 22, 2016
Description: College-bound rising juniors and rising seniors explore topics with professors who are the leading experts in their fields, enroll in classes with college students, and earn college credit.
Financial Aid and Scholarships: Awards range between $500 and $1000, depending upon need and academic merit. Awards will not cover the full program cost.

Harvey Mudd College Fall FAST Program; Claremont, California
Application Deadline: TBA
Program Dates: September 2016
Description: The Fall Future Achievers in Science and Technology (FAST) Program allows high school seniors who are underrepresented in math and science, including women, students of color, and those who will be among the first in their families to attend a four-year college, to experience Harvey Mudd College. Participants stay overnight in one of the residence halls, take campus tours, sit in on classes, complete an interview with the Office of Admission, participate in a hands-on engineering workshop, and much more. This is a great program for STEM students!
Financial Aid: The Fall FAST Program is free to all participants, including all lodging, meals and travel accommodations (if applicable).

Missouri University of Science & Technology; Rolla, Missouri
Application Deadline: May 15, 2016
Program Dates:  Two sessions: June 6-10 & June 20-24, 2016
Description: Rising juniors and seniors from underrepresented ethnic groups participate in a week-long program designed to give students hands-on experience seeing what holding an engineering job is like.
Application Requirements: For African American, Hispanic and American Indian rising high school juniors and seniors. Read more here:
Financial Aid: $200 registration fee includes room and board, supplies and all activities, but not travel.

NYU Steinhardt Programs; New York, New York
Application Deadlines: Vary by discipline; most priority deadlines are between March 18 and April 18, and most final deadlines are between April 1 and May 15
Program Dates: Vary by discipline; see:
Description: Every summer, high school to graduate students participate in NYU’s varied and exciting music and performing arts programs. Their programs vary from several instrumental performance programs including brass, Broadway percussion, improvisational jazz, and piano, to vocal performance, music business, and music technology.
Financial Aid: NYU offers several performance (merit) and need based scholarships to accepted applicants. Apply here:

Penn State Honors Music Institute; University Park, Pennsylvania
Application Deadline: May 16, 2016
Program Dates: July 17-23, 2016
Description: The Penn State Honors Music Institute is an intensive, week-long immersion in the art of music making for talented high school students. As one of the most exciting summer music camps of 2016, specific areas of study include Chamber Choir, Jazz Ensemble, Piano, and Wind Ensemble. Students entering 9th grade in the fall of 2016 through students who will graduate in the spring of 2016 are eligible to audition.
Financial Aid: Partial scholarships are available to qualified students upon acceptance to the Honors Music Institute. Scholarship Information will be sent with registration materials to accepted participants.

UW-Madison Engineering Summer Program; Madison, Wisconsin
Application Deadline: April 4th, 2016
Program Dates: June 18 – July 29th, 2016
Description: The UW-Madison Engineering Summer Program’s (ESP) course curriculum includes math, physics, chemistry, engineering, and technical communications. Industry site visits, field trips, guest lectures, workshops, and faculty mentoring help students gain an understanding of the field of engineering and its applications. Review projects from past students here:
Application Requirements: A strong interest in math and engineering; U.S. citizen or permanent resident; entering your junior or senior year for the upcoming school year; completed at least one year of algebra, geometry, and chemistry by June of the program year; minimum grade-point average of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. ESP targets high school students from groups traditionally underrepresented in STEM fields. Women from all backgrounds, African-American, Native American, Latino/a, Laotian, Vietnamese, Hmong, and Cambodian students, first generation, educationally-disadvantaged and low income students are especially encouraged to apply.
Financial Aid: The program is 100% sponsored, including 3 meals a day. There are no costs to the students once they arrive on campus. Students and families are required to fund their own travel arrangements to and from the University.

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