Exciting summer programs for High School students

By Rajkamal Rao  

Image Courtesy: Rao Advisors

There are outstanding summer programs to keep your teenager engaged and active, while giving them an opportunity to make friends, learn, and have fun. Summer programs are also about exploration, so it is fine to have your child enroll in a program that you may consider to be outside of her interests or career goals.

Academic programs fall into two basic buckets, STEM and Liberal Arts. Below are a few good ones. Applying early is key.

Non-academic programs range from providing service to a local nursing home to volunteering for an international organization such as the Red Cross. Work or internship options are also attractive ways to keep children engaged.

Liberal Arts: Political Science, Government, or International Relations

For high school students who are interested in pursuing a political science, government, or international relations career, there are numerous opportunities. Many start off in high school clubs that culminate in inter-school competitions at the regional, state, or even national level. Other opportunities are available through essay competitions or internships.

The best ones are those that are sponsored by the government, or by organizations representing the government. It is never a good idea to pay exorbitantly for such experiences, so be wary of internships or summer sessions at elite top schools such as Stanford, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Columbia, and Brown.

STEM (and Liberal Arts)

There are numerous STEM programs that may interest your child. Many require students to have demonstrated STEM skills in school through coursework and club activities. Some are open to all students.

  1. Google Kickstart Coding Competitions (may be open at other times during the year too)
  2. High School Aerospace Scholars - NASA

  3. Summer Science Program

  4. Research Science Institute at MIT

  5. MITES program at MIT 

  6. BWSI program at MIT
  7. US Naval Academy Summer programs

  8. USAF Summer Seminar

  9. Boston University RISE program

  10. Cisco STEM programs

  11. Boston Leadership Institute Biology Research

  12. High School Summer Science Research at Baylor

  13. Girls who code

  14. Open-source coding projects to help communities - Call for Code (IBM)

  15. Science Internship Program at UC Santa Cruz

  16. Bank of America Student Leaders

  17. Program in Math for Young Scientists - Boston University

  18. Ross Math Program at Ohio State

  19. Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)

  20. National Space Club And Foundation Scholars Program - Greenbelt, Maryland

  21. High School Summer Program at MD Anderson

  22. Thomas Jefferson University Summer Science (for Health Science students)

  23. Fox Chase Cancer Center
  24. California State Summer School for Mathematics & Science (COSMOS)

  25. UCLA Nanoscience Lab Summer Institute

  26. The University of Pittsburgh Hillman Cancer Center Academy

  27. The Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program - George Mason Univ

  28. Persolv AI bootcamp (fee-based program conducted by Stanford graduates)

  29. Advanced Genetics lab at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst

  30. Research opportunities at Auburn University

  31. Research opportunities at Southern Methodist University

  32. Governor's School of Texas - Lamar University (Free, but must be nominated by counselor)

Volunteering and Community Service

No matter what your passion for community service, there's always an organization that is eager to have you volunteer. Here's an expanded list of cause areas to help you find an organization in your area. We present links to popular organizations below.

  • Advocacy & Human Rights
  • Animals
  • Arts & Culture
  • Children & Youth
  • Computers & Technology
  • Crisis Support
  • Disaster Relief
  • Education & Literacy
  • Emergency & Safety
  • Environment
  • Health & Medicine
  • Homeless & Housing
  • Hunger
  • Immigrants & Refugees
  • Justice & Legal
  • LGBTQ+
  • People with Disabilities
  • Politics
  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Seniors
  • Veterans & Military Families
  • Women

Our favorite organizations

  1. North Texas Food Bank

  2. American Red Cross

  3. Make-A-Wish foundation

  4. The Salvation Army

  5. Bone Marrow Registry

  6. Computers for the Blind (learn hardware skills to build computers (Dallas)).

  7. Cardboard project to help bridge the digital divide with underprivileged communities (Dallas).

  8. Itstemkids (FREE preschool STEM program to help disadvantaged African American and LatinX children in Grand Prairie)

  9. Coding your future - Teach Python and Java skills to underprivileged middle and high schoolers

  10. SAT Tutoring at Schoolhouse.world (affiliate of the Khan Academy)

  11. Habitat for Humanity - must be at least 16 years old

  12. Destination Imagination

  13. National Breast Cancer Foundation

  14. Hispanic organizations Unidosus or the AAMA (Issues: Rights & Criminal Justice, Education, Health, Immigration, Voting, Youth, and the Economy)

  15. Home Run Hitters International (Camp M.I. for disabled children)

  16. Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

  17. Amedisys Hospice

  18. Houston area: iBug Today, technology assistance for the blind. 

A Note About Rao Advisors Premium Services
Our promise is to empower you with high-quality, ethical and free advice via this website.  But parents and students often ask us if they can engage with us for individual counseling sessions.

Individual counseling is part of the Premium Offering of Rao Advisors and involves a fee.  Please  contact us for more information.

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