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Summer Programs for High School Students in Massachusetts

The large stone face of one of the massive buildings in Massachusetts.

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The summer months present a unique opportunity for high school students who are thinking ahead to college. Numerous colleges and universities throughout Massachusetts offer distinctive summer programs that allow participants to expand their knowledge, explore potential career paths, earn college credits, and get a taste of college life. From short virtual programs to long residential opportunities, there are options to suit nearly any student.

Please note that many of these annual programs have been altered for the 2020 summer season in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Availability is limited for these programs, so plan ahead for those you want to attend in the coming years.

Harvard Summer Programs for High Schoolers

Harvard offers two options for high school students interested in attending an immersive summer program. The Pre-College Program allows students to live on campus for two weeks while taking non-credit courses. Participants attend class three hours each day and have a choice of more than 100 course options. Team-building activities, college readiness workshops, and social activities are organized throughout the days as well.

The Secondary School Program is typically available as a residential program on campus, a daily program for commuters, or an online program for students who prefer to work from home. This is a seven-week for-credit session. Participants can enroll in either one or two courses, choosing from more than 200 options for which they will earn college credits.

For 2020, all of Harvard’s summer programs will be held online due to COVID-19.

Tufts Pre-College Programs

Pre-college programs at Tufts are available for high school students entering grades 10 through 12. Those in 10th grade are only eligible to attend pre-college lectures and SMFA courses and workshops. Residential, commuter, and online courses are typically available, though the 2020 program will take place exclusively online due to the pandemic.

These programs include a wide range of courses as diverse as genetics, chemical principles, classical mythology, anatomy, mixed media drawing, and more. Students can sign up for anywhere from 4 to 10 credits from a selection of almost 60 courses. The program also includes a College Prep 101 Workshop and optional instruction for Standardized Test Prep or College Essay Writing.

Boston University’s Summer Pathways

Summer Pathways is a week-long program for young women who are currently attending Boston area high schools and are entering their junior or senior years. The program’s tuition includes room and board for the week, an overnight trip to Thompson Island, and all transportation costs. During the program, participants perform hands-on STEM activities, meet with college admissions representatives, visit a pharmaceutical or biotechnology company, and more.

Summer Pathways has been canceled for 2020 due to COVID-19 but may resume in the summer of 2021.

Boston Architectural College Summer Academy: High School Design Exploration

For more than 15 years, Boston Architectural College has offered a summer design exploration program for high school students. Throughout the month of July, participants work closely with BAC studio leaders to explore architecture and design principles. Students are encouraged to pursue creative solutions for modern problems. Activities include model-making, mapping, diagramming, and perspective drawing.

The 2020 program has been altered to follow a virtual format that includes daily discussions, webinars, and Zoom rooms that connect students and faculty members. Juniors and seniors who complete the program are eligible for a $2,000 scholarship toward a BAC undergraduate program. These participants also receive 1.5 college credits.

Hampshire College Summer Studies in Mathematics

The HCSSiM program is a six-week course that allows high school students to live on the Hampshire College campus, immersing themselves in mathematics studies. Monday through Saturday, students participate in four hours of classes followed by a Prime Time Theorem before supper and problem sessions in the evening.
For 2020, the program will be held virtually. However, Hampshire College intends to resume these intensive in-person summer sessions in 2021.

Brandeis College App Design Program

App Design is an online program that guides high school participants through the process of designing an app, from creating the initial concept to marketing the completed application. The program simulates team collaboration and remote app development as participants learn programming languages, hone coding skills, and work with a broad community of peers. There is a fee due at the time of registration, though some scholarships are available.

Center for the Academy of STEM Education Summer Science Academy

The CASE Summer Science Academy offers select courses for high school students to engage in each summer. This is a week-long program that includes classes from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The registration fee includes lab supplies and course materials, but it does not include transportation or lunch. Some scholarships are available. The 2020 schedule was set to include courses in Pathways to Medicine and Cancer in Context; however, these in-person sessions were canceled due to COVID-19.

MassBay’s Summer STEM Sampler Workshops

MassBay offers week-long STEM workshops for high school students in the summer. These are available free of charge to high school students who identify as female and meet one of the following criteria:

Programs are available in science, technology, engineering, and math. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 session has been moved online.

University of Massachusetts Amherst Veterinary Technology Program

High school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing a degree in veterinary technology can take one or two weeks of this summer program. This course explores the role of the veterinary technician and introduces students to medical terminology, anatomy, diagnostic imaging, and more. The 2020 program will be held online, and course materials, including dissection kits (for week one), will be delivered to the student’s home for remote participation. Sessions are held daily from Monday through Friday.

Final Thoughts

Participating in programs like these now will help you gain a better understanding of what you can expect and what you’ll most enjoy when you head off to college. Combine one or more of these summer programs with your Spark Admissions consulting, and you’ll have a well-rounded toolkit to help you prepare for college.

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