When Should I Start Looking for Summer Programs?

When Should I Start Looking for Summer Programs?

High School Students Looking for and Finding Summer Programs

Introduction – Looking for Summer Programs

One topic that is commonly brought up when discussing summer programs for high school students involves when to begin looking for summer opportunities of interest. There is not a clear answer or definitive rule for this question, as individual summer programs have their own deadlines, determine the number of spaces available, and receive varying numbers of applications. It can be a good idea for high school students to begin looking for summer programs early in the academic year (e.g. in the early fall). However, there are many students who search for and find summer programs in the spring months and sometimes even in the summer.

The main reason that it can be helpful to begin researching summer programs early is because there are some pre-college programs that begin the registration process in the fall. These programs tend to accept applications through the late fall and sometimes into the winter. The fall months may seem like it is early to begin looking for programs that take place in the summer, but, in general, it can be useful to approach the process of finding summer opportunities earlier instead of later to increase the options that are available. It is also important to note that there are many summer programs that enable students to register or apply in the winter, spring, and even during the summer.

There are a number of reasons to begin researching and considering summer programs early, such as certain programs have early deadlines, some programs require application materials to be submitted (e.g. a teacher recommendation, a high school transcript), and others have limited spaces available. Summer program on a college campusThere are also some programs that have a limited amount of financial aid and in certain cases it can be helpful for students to apply or register early to be considered for these funds. In addition, it can be helpful for students to begin planning for the summer early if they would like to participate in different activities, such as having a part-time job, being a volunteer in the community, and/or going on a family vacation. Overall, it can be beneficial for students to start researching summer programs early to help ensure that the deadlines are met, application materials are submitted, and other productive summer activities can be scheduled.

When students are researching summer programs, it can be useful to make a spreadsheet that includes categories such as the program name, the registration deadline, application materials, cost, and area of focus. This can help students stay organized, determine which programs are good matches for them, and know when to register or submit applications.

Researching and Reading about Summer Programs of Interest

Campus with a pre-college summer program for high school studentsDuring the early fall, some programs will still have information on their websites from the previous academic year. However, the program websites will often include when the information and registration will be available for the upcoming summer. Many programs offer similar opportunities each year. As a result, it can be beneficial for high school students to read about the experiences from the previous year in order to help them determine whether the experiences provided by a program will align with their goals for the summer.

Some programs begin putting information about the upcoming summer in the early fall. For example, the Yale Young Global Scholars Program has had information about the summer 2020 on the website since September of 2019. This is similar to the pre-college summer programs at Barnard College and at New York University. An example of an organization that regularly has information about the upcoming summer on their website is iD Tech. iD Tech runs summer STEM and technology-based programs on colleges campus around the country. These programs have different deadlines as well as different registration processes, but students can read about the programs early and ensure that they meet the deadlines.

Multiple Summer Programs and Options

Students on a campus for summer college programWhen students begin to research summer opportunities early, they can often find multiple programs of interest. If students know that they would like to participate in a pre-college summer program, it can be a good idea to have multiple options that would be good matches. This is particularly true if one of the programs is very selective and can only admit a certain number participants. As a result, students are encouraged to consider a variety of summer programs and have a list of three or four opportunities that align with their goals and interest. It can be helpful if the summer programs of interest are diversified, so that not all of them are very selective. With diversified program opportunities, if a student does not get into a selective program of interest, there are other options that have already been considered. Additionally, students may want to have a variety of summer options that would be productive that do not all involve pre-college programs. For example, if a selective summer program does not work out, students can be prepared with options such as setting up opportunities for career shadowing, participating in community service, getting a part-time job, or other beneficial activities.


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Mike Uretsky

Mike has worked in the field of education as a teacher, school counselor, program coordinator, and consultant. As an educator, he has helped high school students find summer programs, pre-college programs, and colleges that align with their interests and goals. He has an interest in assisting students with the transition from high school to college. Mike is a manager for Student Education Programs, an online directory that is designed to connect high school students with valuable summer pre-college opportunities.

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