Virginia Summer Programs for High School Students

Introduction to High School Summer Programs in Virginia

University of Virginia summer programs for high school studentsThis page of the directory includes information about Virginia summer programs and camps for high school students. There are a variety of educational summer programs in the state, which are designed to help students have a productive and beneficial summer while continuing their learning after the school year.

The programs provide students with the opportunity to continue exploring a subject area of interest from the school year or to learn about a topic that is not typically included in a high school curriculum.

This page contains background information on summer programs for high school students in Virginia as well as descriptions of specific programs in the state, including summer programs at the University of Virginia (UVA) and Virginia Tech.

Information on the Directory of Summer Programs

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Locations of Virginia Summer Programs

Virginia summer programs for high school studentsOne positive aspect of summer programs in Virginia is that they are available in multiple locations. The programs are sponsored and run by colleges, universities, and reputable organizations (e.g. museums, educational organizations). In particular, a number of colleges in Virginia sponsor, coordinate, and / or host high school summer programs. This allows for the programs to be held in locations around the state.

According to the World Atlas, Virginia is in the top fifteen states in the country with regard to the number of colleges. There are public colleges such as UVA and Virginia Tech and there are private colleges such as Hampton University and the University of Richmond.

Summer program for high school students at Hampton University in VirginiaThe locations where summer programs are held include Charlottesville, Hampton, Fairfax, Blacksburg, Williamsburg, and more. The different locations in the state where summer programs are held serve to increase the access and participation of high school students.

Residential and Commuter Summer Programs in Virginia

In addition to the different locations, the varying summer programs in Virginia differ in other areas as well. One example of this involves programs being residential or commuter-based (sometimes known as day program or camps).

University of Richmond summer programs for high school studentsResidential summer programs in Virginia are typically held on college campuses and enable students to stay in campus housing such as a university dorm. The residential programs provide high school students with a chance to preview living on a college campus.

These programs also often have extracurricular activities in the evenings to supplement the educational experiences that occur during the day. Residential programs make it easier for students, from different locations around Virginia and from other states, to participate and be a part of a summer opportunity.

Commuter summer programs are designed to enable students to engage in the learning activities during the day and then return home or to a designated location (e.g. a relative’s home) after the day session has concluded. Commuter programs have the advantage of typically being less expensive, which can increase the access and participation in a summer program.

Summer programs for high school students in VirginiaThere are also some programs that provide students with housing options. These programs have a residential option available for students while also enabling others to commute each day.

It can be helpful for students and families to consider the objectives of participating in a summer program experience. When determining whether a residential or commuter program would be the best fit, it can be helpful for students to think about, reflect on, and carefully consider their objectives and goals for the summer.

Potential Benefits of Virginia Summer Programs

Virginia Tech summer program for high school studentsThere are a number of possible benefits involved with participating in a structured summer program in Virginia. Depending on the specific program, high school students may have opportunities that include, but are not limited to, examining a subject area at an in-depth level, learning from professors and / or other experts in a field, reflecting on college majors and career opportunities, preparing for the transition from high school to college, engaging in experiential hands-on activities, developing or enhancing skills, continuing the learning process beyond the academic school year, and meeting students with similar interests.

The Importance of Researching Summer Programs

Summer programs for high school students at George Mason UniversityThere are a variety of positive experiences and outcomes that can come from participating in a summer program. However, the programs across the state of Virginia differ in many ways. For example, programs may vary with regard to location, topics of focus, housing options, cost, length, instruction, daily schedule, and more. As a result, it is important for high school students to engage in the process of researching, reading about, examining, and analyzing summer programs that may be of interest.

Students and families are encouraged to consider the type of summer program that would be a good match based upon the factors and potential outcomes that they determine to be significant. In general, when students have clear objectives, they can research and read about summer programs to try to find which ones align best with their goals, interests, and aspirations. One resource that may be helpful is a blog article entitled, ‘Factors to Consider when Choosing a Summer Program‘.

As a note, there are descriptions, below, of specific summer programs in Virginia. Reading about these programs may be helpful with regard to starting the process of finding programs that are good matches.

Virginia Pre-College Summer Programs

Summer program for high school students at James Madison UniversityPre-college programs are often designed to help students prepare for college. For example, a pre-college experience may help high school students to get a sense of what it is like to be on a college campus, become more familiar with college-level academics, learn about educational opportunities, and explore potential college majors.

There are a number of pre-college summer programs in Virginia because of universities such as Virginia Tech, George Mason, and the University of Virginia, that sponsor, run, and / or host opportunities on the campus. During the summer, a college campus is often somewhat different than it is in the midst of an academic year. This occurs because the majority of the student body is off-campus during the summer months.

UVA summer programs for high school studentsAlthough the feel of campus in the summer may be somewhat different, there are still many ways in which students can benefit from a pre-college summer program such as interacting with professors, developing an understanding of the academic expectations in a post-secondary educational environment, gaining experience on a college campus, utilizing resources at a post-secondary educational institution, speaking with current students who are on campus for a summer session, and getting a glimpse of life in a college setting.

Through participating in a pre-college program, high school students may also have a chance to reflect on the type of college that may be a good match for them (e.g. size, location, programs of study) and learn about the types of academic and extracurricular opportunities that would be of interest to them in a college setting.

George Mason University summer programs for high school studentsIn addition, some pre-college summer programs are designed to be residential in nature. These programs typically enable high school students to stay in campus-run dormitories, eat in dining halls, and utilize campus facilities (e.g. a recreation center).  These programs can provide students with a glimpse or a preview of  college life.

Pre-college commuter or day programs can also be helpful for high school students. These programs typically give students a chance to spend time on a college campus, utilize academic resources, and become more familiar with a post-secondary educational setting. Commuter pre-college programs can typically provide these types of benefits at a lower cost because there is not a housing fee.

Overall, the pre-college summer programs that are available can be helpful for high school students with regard to thinking about and preparing for life after high school.

Preparing for a Productive Summer in Virginia

Virginia summer pre-college programs for high school studentsThere are many productive activities that high school students can take part in during the summer. For example, students may gain valuable experiences from having a part-time job, honing their skills in an extracurricular activity, performing community service, visiting colleges, spending time with family members, and much more. It can also be important for students to have some time to relax during the summer before beginning the next school year.

Virginia summer programs represent one type of activity that can be productive for high school students.  The content included below has descriptions and information about specific Virginia summer programs. For high school students who are interested in participating in a summer program, the content below may be useful with regard to reading about and finding summer program opportunities that are good matches for them.

Virginia Summer Program Spotlights

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech C-Tech² Computer and Technology Summer Program

James Madison

James Madison University Summer Honors Institute

Scroll down to view more Virginia summer programs for high school students

Virginia Summer Education Programs

George Mason

George Mason Summer Conservation Ecology Program – Fairfax, Virginia
The School of Conservation at the university offers a Field Conservation Program that enables high school students to enhance their understanding of conservation practices, learn about important ecological issues, and develop skills in ecological field research.  During the program, students also participate in practical learning activities, collect data and information, and participate in fieldwork research. 

In addition, the summer program provides high school students with the opportunity to take part in interesting discussions, learn from a university professor, and collaborate with other peers. Participating students also have the chance to learn about and analyze current real world issues pertaining to conservation and ecology.

This program is designed to be a residential opportunity and students have the opportunity to stay on a campus. This pre-college program also helps students to learn about college majors and careers in the area of conservation.

Participants: Rising high school 11th and 12th graders.


Hampton University Summer Leadership Summit – Hampton, Virginia
The Leadership Summit is a week-long residential summer program that enables students to enhance their leadership skills. Students participate in workshops that are designed to cultivate leadership. The workshops emphasize topics in leadership and business.
Participants: High school juniors and seniors.

James Madison

James Madison Summer Honors Institute – Harrisonburg, Virginia
The Summer Honors Institute is a residential program that provides students with the opportunity to take classes and interact with faculty. The classes are designed to emphasize areas such as society, culture, technology, and the sciences. Students also have the chance to participate in outdoor activities and experience the natural habitat of the community. The program also enables students to gain an understanding of what an honors program is like at a university.
Participants: Rising high school juniors and seniors.

University Richmond College Prep Summer Programs – Richmond, Virginia
The School of Professional and Continuing Studies at the university offers opportunities in the summer as well as the school year to help high school students prepare for life after high school graduation. In particular, these programs, collectively called Steps to Success, provide students with a chance engage in college and career planning.

There are three options that are offered through Steps to Success at Richmond. One option focuses on the standardized tests that are often utilized when preparing for college (the PSAT, the SAT, and ACT). This option provides workshops to assist students in prepping for the areas found on the standardized tests. There are sessions for the PSAT, the ACT, and the SAT. The workshops may be held in the summer and during the academic year.

Another program that is typically offered in the summer is called College Edge. This program is designed for students who will be entering the 12th grade in high school. Through this program, college-bound students begin to prepare materials for their college applications. Students work with instructors to learn about and begin to prepare elements that are often part of the college application process such as personal statements and extracurricular activity lists. Participating students become more familiar with the college admission process and can be better prepared to complete applications.

Another option for high school that is available through the university is called College and Career Paths. This involves students learning from an trained advisor in sessions on college and / or career planning. This option can help students to prepare for the transition that occurs when high school has been completed.

Some of the options in Steps to Success at the University of Richmond may be offered during the academic year as well as the summer. Students should check with the Office of Profession and Continuing Studies for more information

Participants: High school students. The College Edge Program is designed for rising high school 12th graders.


University of Virginia Advance Summer Program – Charlottesville, Virginia
The Advance Program is a residential experience that provides students with the chance to learn about college academic expectations and life on a university campus. Through the program, students choose a college course of interest and can also take another elective. Course topics have included to business communications, oceanography, human rights, and more. Through the program, students study a subject at an in-depth level, interact with faculty members, and get to know peers. In addition, students participate in workshops to learn more about the college admission process and accessing resources on a university’s campus. Students also participate in collaborative activities and field trip around the Charlottesville area.
Participants: Motivated and talented rising high school juniors and seniors.

Virginia Tech

Virginia Tech C-Tech² Summer Program – Blacksburg, Virginia
Virginia Tech offers summer programs in engineering and technology. The C-Tech² is intended female students in grades eleven and twelve. Students explore important aspect of engineering and technology. The program uses a residential model to help students gain experience in a university environment and students have a chance to interact with faculty members and graduate students in the Department of Engineering. During program, students participate in collaborative activities and workshops that are designed to help them learn significant information about the field engineering. Students also work on an engineering design project and learn about careers in the field.
Participants: High school juniors and seniors.

Virginia Tech summer design program for high school students

Virginia Tech Summer Architecture and Design Program – Blacksburg, Virginia
The School of Architecture and Design at the university runs a summer program for high school students who are interested in the field of design. This program provides students with the opportunity to engage in experiential activities in order to learn more about the principles of design and to apply their knowledge in project-based activities.

Through the program, participants have the opportunity to learn from instructors associated with Virginia Tech, develop their knowledge and experience in a studio setting, utilize resources at the university, collaborate with others, and receive valuable information about the architecture and design fields. The program also enables students learn about studying architecture and design in a college setting and gain insight into career opportunities within the field. 

The program takes place over a one week time span. Participating students can opt to stay on the campus of Virginia Tech during the program or they can opt to commute to the program.

Participants: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors.

Young Writers Workshop

The Young Writers Workshop at Sweetbriar College – Sweet Briar, Virginia
The Young Writers Workshop, in connection with the University of Virginia, is a residential program that provides students with the opportunity to participate in a variety of experiences to help them cultivate their writing skills. Students gain knowledge in areas such as fiction, non-fiction, poetry, graphic novels, song writing, and screen/play writing. The program enables students to extend and expand their perspectives on writing. Students also have a chance to enhance their own writing skills through a variety of activities, discussions, and workshops.
Participants: High school students.

The College of W & M

The College of William and Mary Summer Pre-College American HistoryProgram – Williamsburg, Virgina
This pre-college summer program is a residential opportunity for students. Through the program, students explore American history and visit historical sites in the Virginia area. The program provides to opportunities for hands-on activities, discussions, writing exercises, and on-site trips to help students enhance their understanding of American history.
Participants: High school students in grades 10-12.

Recommended Summer Program Resources that may be Useful

For more information on summer pre-college programs the following pages are recommended.

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    • Conducting a college visit while participating in a summer program on a college campus.
    • Engaging summer opportunities that provide beneficial experiences in engineering.
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