Are you a high school sophomore or junior who is starting to think about applying to college? Consider applying to a pre-college summer program. No one is born knowing what they love doing. You simply have to try this, that, and the next thing. Success leads to more success. You might be interested in working outdoors, overseas, art, humanities, leadership, math, business, science, sports, teaching, music, or something else. Eventually, everyone finds something they enjoy doing so much that they develop that skill and passion into a career. So try out a field of interest!
How to apply to a low-cost or free pre-college summer program
- Research the lists and programs described in this article. Some of the programs have released their 2017 applications, and some have not.
- Sign up for the email list for programs you are considering that have not released their application. That way, you’ll be ready to apply when they do post the application! Read the details of the program and the application. Ask yourself, “Does this sound interesting?”
- Apply for each program you are considering. Consult your high school counselor for assistance with applying for these programs. If you need assistance with writing your essay, write to debbie@EssayCoaching.com to set up a professional consultation.
Ten reasons to consider a pre-college summer program
There are many reasons to spend a few weeks of your summer in a pre-college experience. Here’s our top 10:
- Learn if a field of interest excites you—For example, do you like computer science more than engineering?
- Find a direction in a field of interest. If you are thinking you want to be a doctor, learn more about whether you might be interested in radiology, surgery, or psychiatry.
- Find a mentor.
- Surprise yourself in how you behave in a new situation.
- Receive some feedback from someone you admire.
- Discover an area of the country you’ve never traveled to before.
- Find new, motivated friends who are interested in what you care about.
- Learn more about a college you are applying to.
- Have fun and learn!
- These programs can be very useful when writing your college application essay.
Lists of Low Cost and Free Pre-College Summer Programs
If you are concerned about finances, there are numerous ways you can receive financial aid for these programs or find FREE programs.
Lorna Sheridan has an excellent list of summer programs for students. She calls it “Meaningful/Enriching Summer Programs On A Shoestring (for ages 12-25)” This list has a wide range of offerings for students who are interested in the outdoors, overseas, arts, humanities, leadership, math, business. Included are interesting programs such as Girls Who Code and MPULSE at the University of Michigan, for students interested in the performing arts.
Questbridge.org is an organization that offers financial aid to students applying to college. Their Scholarships to Summer Programs webpage says they “partner with Emory, UChicago, Notre Dame, Penn, Princeton, Stanford, Wesleyan, and Yale to offer select College Prep Scholars the opportunity to take college-level courses at a top-tier university while fully immersing themselves in the day-to-day rhythms of college life.” At least one Essay Coaching student has benefitted from Questbridge.
Still Not Sure About a Pre-College Summer Program?
Talk to everyone you know and ask them about what program they attended or which program they think you might enjoy. Speak with friends, relatives, high school counselors, or admissions officers at your favorite college. You can also widen your view and look for summer options like programs through the NYTimes or by colleges listed at CollegeXpress. You just may find the perfect fit!