I am frequently asked about the best summer programs for high school students. There are many great options, and while there are different factors to consider, including resources, here are recommendations to point you in the right direction.

  • Sports Camps 

If your child enjoys a particular sport, you might consider sending them to a sports camp at a college of interest. Campers usually live in the dorms, eat in the dining halls and get a taste of campus life while also receiving instruction from college coaches and players. Princeton, Cornell and Dartmouth offer or host reputable camps in a wide variety of sports, and you can find comparable options at many schools.

  • Language Immersion/ Adventure Travel/Service Trips

For pure language immersion, sometimes combined with travel, I really like the Rassias programs. In addition, some of the trips run by adventure travel groups have language components.  My favorite adventure and service travel companies are Rustic Pathways and Where There Be Dragons, and both of those groups have options that offer the opportunity to work with underprivileged kids. If your child has been going to a favorite summer camp for years but has aged out of the traditional curriculum, check to see if the camp offers a service trip, like this one offered by Camp Coniston in New Hampshire.

  • College Academic Programs

Another way to experience life on campus at a school of interest, while also demonstrating academic aptitude, is to enroll in summer classes in a program that is either geared to or incorporates high school students. Harvard, Brown, Cornell, Columbia, Barnard, Berkeley, Georgetown and Emory have good programs, as do many other schools.

  • Prep School Academic Programs

Prep schools also run academic summer programs, including Andover, Exeter and St. Paul’s.

The best programs fill early, so it’s important to start investigating now and to apply soon.


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Karen Marks

Karen has more than 12 years of experience evaluating candidates for admission to Dartmouth College and to the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth. Since founding North Star Admissions Consulting in 2012, she has helped applicants gain admission to the nation’s top schools, including Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Wharton, MIT, Tuck, Columbia, Kellogg, Booth, Haas, Duke, Johnson, Ross, NYU, UNC, UCLA, Georgetown and more. Clients have been awarded more than $70 million dollars in scholarships, and more than 98% have gotten into one of their top choice schools.
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