The 12 Best Pre-College Summer Programs

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As a high school student, it’s hard to know what colleges are looking for in their applicants. Officer positions in clubs and good grades in advanced-level classes are always a nice place to start, but it’s the students who go the extra mile (literally!) who tend to catch the eyes of admission officers.

Summer vacation can be a great time to get ahead, especially if you decide to attend an academic program. Whether you’re a business buff or a journalism junkie, there’s a summer program that can help you learn more about your future career field and develop connections for the future. It’s never too early to start racking up experiences for your resume, and summer programs are also an effective way for any high school student to get a taste of college living!

The programs listed below are held at universities in the top of their field. Check out some of the leading ranked programs in the country, broken up by area of interest!

Business

1. Leadership in the Business World 

This program is held at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, one of the top business schools in the nation. Here, rising high school seniors spend four weeks in intensive classes revolving around leadership in business.

Application deadline: Feb. 21, 2014

Program dates:  July 6 – Aug. 2, 2014

Cost: $6,595 (covers tuition, housing, most meals, activities and weekend trips)

To apply: Submit your high school transcript, school profile (you can get this from your school office or guidance counselor), two letters of recommendation from teachers, a short essay, an application fee of $75 and the application on the program website.

2. Young Women’s Institute 

This two-week program is held at the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University Bloomington and is exclusively for women who are currently juniors in high school (2013-14 school year). It offers a look into college life while enforcing a passion for business and is located at a renowned undergraduate business school.

Application deadline: April 15, 2014

Program dates: June 8-13 or June 22-27, 2014

Cost: Participants only need to cover transportation to and from Bloomington and personal expenses.

To apply: Send your high school transcript and one letter of recommendation and fill out the application on the program website.

Journalism/Writing

3. Medill-Northwestern Journalism Institute 

Also known as Medill cherubs, this intensive, five-week program is held at Northwestern University in Illinois for rising high school seniors interested in all areas of journalism.

Amanda Ritter, a freshman at Northwestern University, says attending this program gave her invaluable skills. “The professors and instructors taught me how to write better, conduct interviews and utilize social media in a professional way,” she says. “We were fully immersed in the journalistic experience.”

Application deadline: March 26, 2014

Program dates: June 29 – Aug. 1, 2014

Cost: $5,200, which covers tuition, room and board, health service, field trips and group events.

To apply: Submit your high school transcript, one letter of recommendation and work samples and fill out the application on the program website

4. Syracuse University Summer College: Creative Writing – Fiction & Poetry Program

The two-week program is held at Syracuse University in New York. It provides students with the essentials to write poetry and fiction at one of the top creative writing programs in the country. During the program, students will build a portfolio of their work and listen to guest lecturers.

Application deadline: May 15, 2014

Program dates: July 27 – Aug. 8, 2014

Cost: Residential: $2,418, Commuter: $1,610

To apply: Submit your high school transcript and most recent report card and complete the application on the program website.

Theater

5. The Pre-College Drama Program at Carnegie Mellon University 

This six-week program aims to prepare students for college auditions. It is held at Carnegie Mellon University in Pennsylvania for students between the ages of 16 and 18 who have completed their sophomore year of high school. Student Carly Valancy attended this program and says it made her realize she wants to be at a school with a conservatory-style program.

Her most memorable moment also helped her grow as a performer. “I was in the middle of a voice lesson and my voice cracked,” she says. “I was embarrassed at first, but my teacher smiled and asked me to sing the note again. I had a breakthrough, and ever since then I've been really singing correctly. Carnegie Mellon is the reason I am even going to school for theatre.”

Application deadline: Rolling

Program dates: June 28 – Aug. 9, 2014

Cost: Resident: $7,402
(covers tuition, housing, dining and activities fee),

Commuter: ($5,141
covers tuition, housing and activities fee)

To apply: Apply here. You will need to submit your high school transcript, your standardized test scores, an activities resume, an essay, a drama resume, a recommendation from your guidance counselor or two teachers and the Pre-College Cover Letter.

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About The Author

Rebecca Rubin is a freshman at the University of Florida, where she is majoring in Journalism.