It’s just too early to bring this up for discussion, right? You know what I mean… that feeling we all get when the stores put back to school supplies out before the 4th of July, or when Christmas decorations go up before Halloween.
That same feeling happens with summer programs. Yes, it is not even Christmas and summer programs, especially those for homeschoolers and other high school students, have begun the posting their offerings and applications will soon be made available. I know, it is kind of crazy; however, this is the world we are living in.
Why are these programs in such demand?
First of all, summer provides ALL STUDENTS with time to do something a bit different. They can explore unique subjects and topics that they normally do not have the chance to explore otherwise.
Secondly, for high school students, who want to stand out in college admissions, summer is the time for students to enhance their college applications. Often, admission officers are looking for summer experiences that tie in with a student’s overall narrative. Admission officers seek out students that connect interests with academic areas or promote the student as a global citizen. When students apply to college they are assigned an Application Point Average (APA). These summer programs can raise their APA making them more desirable to the college or university.
Personally, my daughter began attending various programs as early as the 5th grade. She LOVED so many programs that she went back multiple times. One summer, my daughter attended (and I am not joking) four back to back programs. At the time, she received almost full scholarships/grants for each of these programs. Our expense was the plane flight, which I always found relatively inexpensively. For our family, these programs enriched her learning and provided her with experiences that I could never duplicate in homeschooling. To me, this was worth its weight in gold.
With this said, please do not forget to add some down time into summer. Even the summer where my daughter attended four programs, we finished our homeschooling year in the very beginning of May giving her all of May to relax, recoup and regenerate before heading off on her adventures.
STEM. Visual Arts. Gifted. Music. Business. Theater. Language. Cultural Opportunities. There is something out there for almost ANY interest. Below are some of my personal favorites; however, there are so many out there! Please seek out these as well as other opportunities that are available in your area:
When my daughter attended this, it was for middle school students; however, now it is for grades 9 and up. This program, which is highly competitive, provided my daughter with her first real exposure to true Engineering at the number five “Best Undergraduate Engineering Program” in the country (ranked by United States News and World Report). The activities, labs, projects and experiences she had there could not be duplicated at home.
This program gives students in 6th grade and up a variety of experiences in an academic yet social program on a college campus. Students participate in project-based assignments. Although attending these programs at any of the Ivy’s do not increase the chance of admission at the at particular college, these programs help in so many other ways. Students get a taste of life on a college campus. They will experience living in a dorm, attending lectures, meeting new people from all walks of life with similar interests. In addition, the taste of “living on your own” certainly helps with their maturity. Again, my daughter attended the Astrobiology program here and still today, 10 years later, keeps in touch with her professor from this program.
Harvard, Stanford and Columbia University are some of the other “pre-college” programs available for grades 6 and up.
I will never forget driving up to Concordia for my daughter’s first (of four) summers. This was her first academic summer experience, at the age of ten, so I flew with her to Bemidji, Minnesota to bring her to the program. As I pulled into the parking lot, the staff member began speaking to me in French and refused to speak English. I look at him straight in the eyes and said, “I am fine with you doing this to my daughter, but please speak English to me.” He chuckled and provided me with directions in English.
Concordia was hands down an amazing experience for my daughter. She was 110% immersed in not only the language but the food, culture and history of the “village” she chose. My daughter attended the French Village for two years, and then the Arabic village. She came out of each year with an amazing increase in spoken ability. Every day – all day – everything is said in the target language. The staff does not break from that UNLESS there is an emergency/health situation. The highlight of every session is International Day, where all the individual villages combine for a “taste of the world” filled with performances, songs, food, costumes in the target language and reflecting the target country!
Spanish. French. Arabic. Italian. Russian. Chinese. Japanese. Korena. The list goes on. Concordia has been open since 1961…. They must be doing something right.
Davidson THINK Summer Institute (THINK) is a three-week-residential program for exceptionally gifted students, ages 13 to 16. Located on the University of Nevada, Reno, THINK offers students the opportunity to take two college courses taught by university faculty for college credit. Again, my daughter participated in this program and LOVED it. She loved the independence of sitting in college classes (NOTE: It was only THINK students in the classes with the professors, not other college students; however, they did use the same syllabi). In addition to learning, THINK made sure the students balanced their learning with fun and had numerous outings to balance off the summer program.
Astronomy Camp is all about discovery the Eureka moment! Under the dark skies of Southern Arizona, students of all ages explore “the heavens” with large telescopes and experience the excitement of scientific inquiry. The unique environments at Mount Lemmon Observatory and Kitt Peak National Observatory provide outstanding views of the sky and encourage exploration. Since 1988, thousands of campers have had an immersion experience, operating research-class telescopes and technology, keeping nighttime hours, interacting with leading scientists, interpreting their own observations, investigating their own questions and curiosities and most importantly have had fun doing so!
This program is probably what change my daughter desire to be an award-winning writer to go into the field of Aerospace Engineering. Since she attended this program in high school, she has never turn back and will be graduating with a degree in Aerospace Engineering.
This program, which is a newer program, is a highly competitive program for the students who live in the Commonwealth of Virginia; however, with a quick search online, I noticed that many states have the same type of program. The STEAM programs in an investment in student talent. It is intended to be a uniquely challenging experience for students across the state it is located in with exceptional ability and interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Interlochen is a haven for the arts. Creative Writing. Dance. Visual Arts. Music. Theater Arts. Motion Picture Arts. Located in northwest Michigan, Interlochen Arts Camps offers programs for grades 3 – 12. Founded in 1928, thousands of artists and art patrons have come to Interlochen to experience world-class educational and cultural opportunities.
Similar to Interlochen, there are other programs to help students interested in the arts develop their talent:
This challenging five-week program awards college credit to rising high school seniors who are ready for a university experience at SCAD Atlanta, SCAD Hong Kong, SCAD Savannah or SCAD eLearning. Students enroll in two college-level classes and have the opportunity to build or enhance their portfolios.
Unleash your creativity this summer with students from all over the world and renowned faculty who are the very best at what they do. Whether you’re a pre college student in middle school or high school, a college student, or beyond, if you’re passionate about music, theater, dance, entrepreneurship, or composition, there is a Berklee summer program for you. Berklee Performance program brings musicians in, for a five-week program, from over 70 countries for the summer of a lifetime.
LaunchX gives students the skills and mindset to start real companies. The programs help students leverage their talents and tenacity to build a viable startup. LaunchX trains you in the skills and innovative thinking that allow founders to create successful businesses, challenging you to take a real startup from idea to execution and impact. The summer program is selective and rigorous.
The UF Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership & Sustainability summer program gives college bound high school students the opportunity to live, work, eat, and play on the campus of the University of Florida for four weeks each summer while learning about entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship, being inspired to solve social problems, and practicing sustainability. We empower students to become leaders and change makers.
Since 1972 – 26,000 alumni later – AMHSI has been pioneering the academic and experiential study of Israel and Jewish history at the high school level. Students are inspired to live outside their books, encounter new ideas and challenge themselves to find their own link within the chain of Jewish continuity.
Explore a different culture in more than 30 amazing destinations across the world. Choose to focus on language learning, service and leadership, or content studies.
dynaMIT was founded by MIT students in 2012 following 3 successful programs under a different name. dynaMIT is a completely free, week-long science program for economically disadvantaged middle school students hosted on the MIT campus. Our program focuses on inspiring students to be interested in the Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields through fun and educational activities, challenges, and projects. We teach critical thinking skills, science and engineering concepts, and design skills!
Basically, google “summer programs for ___________” (enter your child’s age group) and you will be amazed with the variety and options. Have your child try something new. Expand their horizons. Have them take on a new challenge. Whatever you decide, please make sure you research the opportunity well. Many of these programs have scholarships and/or financial assistance. Don’t be shy – ask them!
Eva Goldstein-Meola, is not only co-founder of Open Tent Academy, but an instructor as well as a former homeschooling mother. She has lived in New Jersey, Florida, Western Massachusetts, Northern Virginia and now resides just outside of Jerusalem. Eva holds a Master’s Degree as a Consulting Teacher of Reading and Writing, IEW certification and a Bachelor’s Degree as an Elementary Teacher. She has also been involved in education since 1986 as a Private Tutor, Teacher, Reading Specialist, Homeschooling Mother, Homeschooling Teacher and Business Owner of an Online Education Consortium. In addition to teaching, Eva enjoys cooking, baking, playing Settlers of Catan, traveling with her husband Jonathan, Broadway Musicals and reading. Eva teaches a variety of literature and IEW writing courses for Open Tent Academy.