Looking for a Summer Program? Explore our 2024 Guide to Summer Programs!

    Summer Programs: Our Complete Guide to Overnight Summer Programs for 2020


    Summer brings up all kinds of images: the freedom of a lazy afternoon; the joy of a cool swim; the wonder of a starlit sky. But what if you could have all that and develop skills that you’re going to need for college and beyond?

    TeenLife’s 2020 GUIDE TO OVERNIGHT SUMMER PROGRAMS is a means to expand your world, explore a new interest, meet fascinating people, create something fantastic and, of course, have fun. These used to be called “enrichment” programs, but, as experts, we know that a summer spent on a college campus, in a structured program, engaging in an internship, traveling, or learning a new skill can have a huge impact on your future. These programs let you experience life away from home. They teach responsibility, leadership and resilience. They might include academics, community service or leadership training, but this isn’t an older generation’s idea of “summer school.” You’ll find plenty of chances for adventure and friendships. And there’s a teen summer program to fit every interest, budget and schedule.

    This guide can get you started. It lists more than 50 summer program providers, along with tips on things to think about before you go on an overnight program; our best advice for earning college credit and the best way to really learn a language. And we have the inside scoop from several high school students who have participated in summer programs.

    So think about what you want from summer, then take it one step further and sign up for a program. You can check www.TeenLife.com for more. Let summer be all that you can imagine!

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    ASK THE EXPERTS: Tips on Choosing the Right Summer Program Experience

    When you’re in elementary school, summer vacation is all about playing games. During high school, summer break is a time to up your game. This is your chance for summer program experiences that will you make a stronger college applicant and a better college student. We asked some experts for their advice on how to find the summer experience that’s right for you.

    KAREN KANE, Director, Scholarships and Communications, National Society of High School Scholars:

    “The opportunities for taking advantage of summer programs vary widely, including travel, studying, working and volunteering. The main question is how to find the right thing.

    “More than anything, students should look for opportunities that align with their interests, not just things that they think are going to look good on a college application or that sound impressive. Part of what students are doing at this age is unraveling their identity.

    “You don't find your passion. You create it out of the experiences that you have over time.

    “One of the best resources is Main Street in your home-town. Rely on your network and your parents’ network. You can create your own internship or volunteer opportunity by offering to help a relative or a neighbor or a local business. It doesn't have to be all summer. It can be a one- or two-week stint or once a week for a month.

    “Guidance counseling offices usually have resources for summer jobs and volunteering.

    “Studying abroad is another option. Fewer than 10% of students in the U.S. ever do it, so international travel will give you an experience that is different from other students who may be competing for the same scholarship or the same spot at a school.

    “One of the biggest side effects of travel and studying abroad is the soft skills that you will gain. Being pushed out of your comfort zone will build your ability to adapt, problem solve and be self-reliant.

    “Another good way to spend part of a summer is to visit colleges. It’s just as useful to understand what you don’t want as it is to understand what you do.

    “You don’t have to spend all of your summer focusing on the college application process but getting your head in that space will help later on.”

    BILL HOLINGER, Director, Harvard Secondary School Program:

    “An academic summer program is not a summer for every teenage student, but any student who’s interested enough in school to have good grades and a good track record will find some surprising things in an academic program.

    “At Harvard we offer more than 200 college courses in the summer, covering many subjects you won’t run into in high school. You might come and take physics or biology instead of taking it at your high school, but you might want to try marine biology or a literature course that you won’t find at your high school.

    “I’ve heard from a lot of students and a lot of parents who say that their freshman year at college they knew the ropes because they’d spent a summer in a college program. They have a much easier time finding their way around campus and finding resources. I’ve also heard parents say very happily that their child learned how to do laundry at Harvard in the summer. That’s not the main thrust of the program obviously, but it’s a good life skill.

    “Choosing among the many programs starts with location and the reputation of the school. You'll find a lot of information on program websites. Some are academically more challenging than others and some offer a particular specialty in terms of courses. MIT has a different bunch of courses available in the summer than Harvard, for example.

    “Don’t hesitate to call the programs and talk to somebody there. We do a lot of academic advising of our incoming students before they ever get here. We encourage them to call us and talk about their interests. We can help steer students toward courses that they’ll like and they’ll be successful in.

    “A transcript with a couple of good university grades on it adds an impressive piece to your application, no matter what college you're applying to.”

    TEKEDRA PIERRE, Internship Coordinator, The Village School, Houston:

    “Internships give a teenager the opportunity to explore career options. It keeps your mind stimulated and lets you work on the interpersonal skills that are needed once you graduate.

    “If a college is making a decision between a student who's done an internship and one who has not, and all of the other things line up, the student who’s done an internship is more likely to get chosen because they took the opportunity to go above and beyond and develop themselves professionally.

    “Sometimes an internship is an opportunity for a student to realize that a career path is not quite what they thought it was, and they may decide to go in a different direction. So, for example, a student getting into a medical-based internship, and they know they want to be a doctor. Then they get into the internship and realize that they don't like the sight of blood or they don't enjoy direct patient contact.

    “How do you find an internship? I would say go and ask. Go to the company and say, ‘Hey, I’m interested in this career field. Can I shadow you for a day and maybe find a way I can help you?’

    “A good internship gives you a skill set of being able to work independently, work with others and speak in front of a group. Those are great skills for students in high school to learn and to practice.”

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    While most parents agree that finding and funding the right summer programs for their teens can be challenging and far from cheap, parents also agree that the benefits summer programs can provide—namely independence, social skills, leadership development, confidence, and academic rigor—far outweigh their cost.


    “Summer programs, especially overnight programs where kids are away from their parents, are really important to develop independence,” says Andy Moeschberger, a camp director at Gold Arrow Camp in California. Moeschberger, who also sits on the board of the Western Association of Independent Camps, says that these programs can give kids “small doses of independence” to prepare them for college and beyond.

    Moeschberger adds that summer programs can offer students skills not easily acquired during the school year, like the ability to “develop social skills without an edit button,” noting that so much of teens’ day-to-day interactions with people allow them to edit before they post. Summer programs that limit or prohibit cell phone usage enable teens to develop critical face-to-face social skills.

    Both academic and extracurricular summer programs can foster independence and social skills. Jennifer Hovey, owner of the Huntington Learning Center in Boise, Idaho, says that academic programs can help students avoid the “summer slide” that happens when they don’t practice the skills learned during the school year. “Imagine spending 9 months consistently working out at the gym, 5 days a week, then taking 3 months off completely,” Hovey says. “That is what your child's brain goes through during the summer months, if it isn’t engaged. It isn’t uncommon for students to feel ‘out of shape’ when they come back from the summer.”

    Experts agree that summer programs that challenge students’ thinking skills, even if not purely academic, help tremendously. Ms. Queenie Johnson, a Family & Education Consultant based in Los Angeles, California, says that summer is the optimal time to address other aspects of your child’s development outside of academics.

    “This is a great time for parents to say, ‘How can I help my child develop other strengths that they have?’” says Johnson. She notes that summer break is a concentrated time to “really help your child develop their brilliancy all around from a 3-D point of view, without the pressure of having homework in the way.”

    Toushonta Hogan, Vice President of Raising a Mogul, a society and business academy that helps parents coach their young entrepreneurs, says that summer programs are “basically building blocks for the child.” Hogan says that summer camps infused confidence into her son Devin, 17, a basketball player, and her daughter, Shaiann, 15, a dancer. “When she went to cheer camp, she did not know how to do a backflip; she didn't know how to do a cartwheel. But in camp she learned how to do the back-flip and more, and it really pumped her confidence level up—as well as my son when he did basketball camp and learned to dribble with his left hand (he’s right handed),” Hogan shares. “It built their confidence level because now they feel that they can accomplish anything if they try”.


    “A lot of affordability is actually planning,” according to Moeschberger. “We often don't think about summer programs until the spring, and at that point it's too late to put away a little bit at a time. But if you start saving $100 per month for a summer program a year in advance, it won’t hit your wallet as hard.”

    Hogan also maintains it’s wise for parents to start saving early—unless of course your child has her own business. Hogan’s daughter, Shaiann, owns cosmetics company Shai’s World. “That pays for her summer programs,” Hogan shares.

    Hovey says that enlisting teens to raise money for their summer program plans creates more investment in the experience. She encourages kids to do odd jobs in the neighborhood and consider group fundraisers like car washes to make extra cash. She also says that parents often overlook a great resource: “A summer program could qualify to use your 529 education plan. Most parents think that a 529 can only be used for college, but a 529 education plan can be used for anything education-related in grades K-12.”

    Some summer programs are willing to offer a reduced rate if a guidance counselor advocates for the child or it’s the last minute spot. Don’t overlook Counselor-in-Training positions at local day camps —these experiences give teens valuable training at little to no cost.

    Lastly, Johnson encourages families to explore less conventional fundraising options. One of her clients paid for her travel program costs by setting up a GoFundMe campaign and asking friends and family to contribute. She then kept everyone who contributed informed by writing blog posts about her experience.

    No matter how you finance your teen’s summer program, you can trust that the experience will challenge your child, teach new skills, and provide life-long memories.

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    STUDENT TESTIMONIALS: Hear First-Hand Accounts from 8 Summer Program Students

    It's one thing to hear adults talk about the pros and cons of attending a summer program. But what do students have to say?

    Read these testimonials from eight different students who attended a range of summer programs to learn more about the student experience.

    COURTNEY BERTRAND, Brown Pre-College

    Why did you choose to participate in a pre-college summer program?

    I will be going to college soon, so I knew that participating in a summer program on a college campus would help me prepare to stay overnight on my own, without having to depend on my parents, and live by myself for a span of two weeks. The experience definitely helped me to become more independent and mature. It also gave me a glimpse of what college would be like in a couple of years.

    How did you decide which summer program was right for you?

    I chose something I was passionate about, which is writing, and researched some schools that I was interested in that had courses to enhance my writing skills. Through my research, I found that Summer@Brown was just right for me.

    What was a typical day in your summer program?

    I woke up at around 7:30, got breakfast with my roommate, and then headed to class. Class was 3 hours long. After class I grabbed lunch with some of my friends and headed back to my dorm. At the dorm I did my homework and hung out until my friends finished class. Then, we all headed to dinner before going to some of the seminars on campus or have a movie night.

    What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs?

    My advice would be to take advantage of this great opportunity and always, and I mean always, be open to making new friends and trying new things you’ve never done before. I also recommend that if you have a passion, a summer program is a great way to to see if that passion is something you truly want to study in college.

    MICHELLE LEIDECKER, Stanford Summer Arts Institute

    Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?

    I was looking for a program where I could learn about music and its impact on us as students and the world. As a classical musician, I wanted to explore a different perspective of music. I also wanted to attend an overnight program to be able to experience a college-like style of living before I went off to college in order to be more prepared, and the Stanford Summer Arts Institute provided that for me.

    How did you decide which summer program was right for you?

    While looking for programs, what excited me about the Stanford Summer Arts Institute was the diversity of the topics taught in just three weeks. I was excited about the material I was going to learn and that’s how I knew that I wanted to attend the SPCS program. Other programs weren’t giving me the same options of material which made Stanford feel like the right fit for me.

    What was a typical day in your summer program or at camp?

    On a typical day, we all woke up at around 8 in the morning and went to breakfast together. After breakfast we had our first class of the day from 9-12, which was typically a discussion-based class with Dr. Tiffany Naiman where we discussed the reading we had done the night before on a variety of different topics. From there, we went to Arrillaga, the Dining Commons. for lunch and then back to Ng House, where we lived, to have a “study session” with our TAs (teaching assistants) from 1-4. During this time, we watched videos and movies pertaining to the material (since a large chunk of this course was the exploration of how music affects the mood in movies) and did our homework.

    After this study session time we had structured activity time, and got to choose whether to go to the pool, the art museum, or even fountain-hopping with our house leaders. Then we went to dinner, usually at Arrillaga except on Wednesdays, when we had a house dinner on the lawn with different catered food. After dinner we had free time, when we could explore campus or stay in and catch up on work. We went back in the house at around 9 for our pod meetings and our house meeting at 10.

    What was the most memorable moment of your summer?

    My most memorable moment at Stanford was the first time we went into Palo Alto to have bubble tea. This was my first time in California and also my first time having bubble tea so it was lots of fun. We walked to Palo Alto with our TAs and it was nice and cold, and then to T4 You where I had lychee tea before we walked back to Ng house. After that, we had bubble tea almost every day from Coupa Cafe and made it our little ritual!

    What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs?

    I would say to look for a program that has courses that you really want to learn about. If you don’t feel excited about learning the material or being away from home, then you should probably look for a program that better suits you. Going to an overnight summer program may seem intimidating, especially if you’ve never been away from home before, but it is so worth it when you’re there. You’ll learn so many amazing things you didn’t think you’d have the opportunity to study before finishing high school.


    Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?

    I was excited to get out of the normal day-to-day of summer. My mom is also deeply in love with the outdoors, and I was not. Two weeks with NOLS definitely changed that! After the program, I was able to relate to her connection with nature with a newfound appreciation of the world around me.

    How did you decide which summer program was right for you?

    I had heard many good things about NOLS through friends and family, so I had always wanted to take a course through them specifically. It was just a matter of where I wanted to go! I decided to do a hiking course in the Adirondack mountains. As someone who was born and raised in the sheer mountains and dry deserts of Utah, it was exciting to think about hiking in the foggy forests and endless lakes in upstate New York.

    What was a typical day in your summer program?

    Generally the nine of us would wake up at 6:30 AM (some with more liveliness than others) to break camp, cook breakfast, pack our lunches, and get our backpacks ready. After that, two people who were taking their turn as a “designated leader” for the day would brief the rest of the students on our route and end camp for the day. (Our two instructors were always there to answer questions and give guidance behind the scenes - shout out to Alex and Erin!) Then we would be off on our merry way! Some days we would have first-aid or group dynamic classes, and our instructors would check in one-on-one with us often.

    What was the most memorable moment of your summer?

    The most memorable moment would definitely be an interaction I had with one of my instructors. I struggled with homesickness a lot - I had never been so far away from home by myself. I bet I had a cry “sesh” every other day! It was during one of these times that one of my instructors came to check in on me. It turned out he also had a good deal of home-sickness too. However, he said that being outside gave him comfort. I looked up, and for the first time on the trip, fully appreciated the beautiful nature around me. Mountains blanketed in green. Plumes of fog floating out of the forest. The quiet. The fresh air. I will never forget this moment of connecting on a deep, personal level to the outdoors.

    What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs?

    Try and figure out what environment you want from the experience. For example, as a woman of color, I value having an inclusive space to learn in. The NOLS program was a great fit for me because I wanted to learn how to spend time in the outdoors, but also because the people there are working hard to try and create leadership opportunities for “minority” groups. Generally, you can get a vibe from programs just by doing a little bit of research and looking at what exactly they have to offer.

    RYAN MCCANN, Boston Leadership Institute

    Why did you choose to participate in a STEM summer program?

    I have always been fascinated by genetics and the tools scientists use to modify genes. The introductory genetics lessons in the Biological Research course at Boston Leadership Institute gave me a good background which made me feel more confident as we moved further along into the more difficult and advanced topics.

    How did you decide which STEM field was right for you?

    I have eclectic interests which bridge many branch-es of STEM, but I knew the biological sciences were more interesting to me because it combines all the other sciences. Chemistry is useful in the study of proteomics and genetics, while physics is useful in understanding motion and why a species may have evolved in a particular way.

    What was a typical day like in your summer program?

    Each day, classes would start with the teacher, Jim Dixon, giving a lecture. We would study some principle or revolutionary technology in genetics. Then, after lunch, we would go down to the Dana Hall Labs, and the teaching assistants would have a lab prepared. We would spend time doing the lab in groups, and during waiting periods, we would be able to work on our presentations.

    What was the most memorable moment of your summer program?

    My favorite moment was the last couple days of classes, when we all gave our presentations. Every student had been working hard, and I learned a lot about different problems. We could do a research project, where we just discuss a problem, or a design project, where we could research a problem, and propose a solution using genetic engineering.

    What advice do you have for teens looking at STEM degrees or summer programs?

    Follow your interests and look for a project or path that can give you a combination of things that you want. I’m currently in a lab that combines neuroscience and genetics research for Alzheimer’s, my main points of interest. This just shows that you can do stuff that makes a difference, while also focusing on the stuff that really interests you. Boston Leadership Institute helped me realize what I wanted, and gave me the confidence and knowledge needed to go out and reach my goal.

    AUDREY DIMARCO, Wellesley College

    Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?

    Wellesley College has been on my radar since the beginning of high school, and Wellesley’s Pre-College Summer Program was the perfect opportunity to immerse myself in a college setting for a week. I got a feel for the campus, took a class, learned more about the school, explored Boston, and had fun with new friends.

    How did you decide which summer program was right for you?

    While all the options were interesting, I chose a Leadership Course because I wanted to learn major life skills such as email writing, business etiquette, how to ace an interview, and so much more. Learning about business situations from a seasoned professional was very helpful and many of the skills we gained that week have already come in handy!

    What was a typical day in your summer program?

    We woke up and got ready for the day, then met friends for breakfast before class. Afterward, we headed back to our rooms to get our backpacks before walking to class together as we enjoyed the beautiful campus. We met in a Wellesley classroom for lectures, group discussions, collaborative activities, and mock training sessions for a few hours before breaking for lunch. Afternoon classes built on the morning’s lessons and then we had our daily free time. The RAs planned activities for us such as a scavenger hunt, a tour of campus and the town of Wellesley, an escape room challenge, and cookie decorating. I also enjoyed discovering unique spots on campus, or going to a friend’s room to hang out.

    What was the most memorable moment of your summer?

    The most memorable moment of my summer was going on a Duck Boat Tour in Boston on the last day of the program. Boston is such an amazing city filled with so much history. My friends and I had so much fun exploring Boston and seeing all the things I had only learned about in classes.

    What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs?

    Pick a class that interests you, but is not in your comfort zone. This is the ideal opportunity to try something new and challenge yourself, and chances are that it will end up being the highlight of your summer vacation! Also, be friendly and try to connect with other students to get the most out of the experience. You might even stay in touch with your new friends like I did!

    SARA LIGHTHART, Loyola Marymount University

    Why did you choose to participate in a summer program?

    Summer programs allow teens to get a realistic snippet of college life in their major of interest. I have had a passion for film since my sophomore year of high school, but I wasn’t exactly sure it was a career I wanted to pursue. I figured attending a summer program in film would be a great way for me to test the waters and see if film was something I would want a future in.

    How did you decide which summer program was right for you?

    I had applied to summer film programs across the country and compared each one. LMU offers an exceptional film program, one of the top in the country, so attending their pre-college programs sounded like a wonderful opportunity to further my passion in film while being taught by experienced professionals. I had also toured the school prior to attending their film program and fell in love with their futuristic facilities and welcoming community. What was a typical day in your summer program? I had the privilege of attending two programs LMU offered. Summer prior to my junior year, I attended the Beginning Screenwriting program. A typical day would consist of waking up around 7:00 a.m., getting breakfast, then heading to class from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. In class, we learned to write a character analysis, beat-sheets, and scripts. Then, we grabbed lunch and walked around campus, we had an afternoon class from 1:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m. where we continued our studies. After class finished, we were able to roam the campus, work on homework, use on-campus facilities, or hang out. Then, we had dinner at the dining hall and usually a career-oriented session following. The second program I attended was Acting for the Camera. The structure of a daily agenda was quite similar to Beginning Screenwriting, but instead of writing in a classroom, the class would be venturing around campus, acting in scenes and learn-ing film production skills.

    What was the most memorable moment of your summer?

    The most memorable moments were “table reads” in the Beginning Screenwriting program. Once someone completed a script, the entire class would sit down and participate in a “read through”. We would read scripts about anything - from a world dominated by watermelons to a boy writing letters to his old house and “the house” writing back.

    What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs?

    Get out of your comfort zone. If you have a passion for something, but you are nervous to take the first steps, summer programs offer a perfect way to put yourself in a college simulation. You are able to get first-hand experience as a college student, taking classes you enjoy, making friendships with others from across the globe, and learning to become more independent in all aspects of life. In my opinion, it is better to try something and decide you don’t enjoy it than let it pass you by and regret taking advantage of the opportunity when you had the chance.

    MIRANDA DEL SOL, Tisch Summer High School Program

    How did you discover your passion for music?

    I grew up watching my dad make music so creating songs of my own felt natural. I thought songwriting was the way everybody processed their emotions. Over time, I realized just how powerful music could be and made it my mission to pursue my passion in hopes I could be there for people the way I felt my favorite artists had been there for me.

    What’s your favorite part about performing/creating during your summer program?

    Creating is an incredibly vulnerable experience and when it comes time to share your work, there’s only so much you can prepare for. I love that when I perform, a certain trust is built between me and a room of strangers. We both decide to open ourselves up to whatever happens next and dare to feel connected.

    What’s the hardest part for you about performing/creating?

    The hardest part is feeling that the worth of my art directly correlates to others’ opinions of me. It’s easy to doubt yourself when no matter how much you work, you find yourself at the mercy of people’s streams, likes, and follows. Finding the balance between creating work that is true to me despite feeling that my career depends on its reception is a constant struggle.

    Why did you pick this particular summer program?

    Although I consider myself primarily a singer song-writer, I am curious about all aspects of the industry. Tisch’s Summer High School is the only program I found that would not only let me explore my many interests but give me exposure to a wide variety of music industry professionals. Getting to chat with Kesha about her songwriting and receiving advice from Beyonce’s publicist are opportunities I wouldn’t have had anywhere else.

    What was your favorite part of this program?

    For our final project, we had to produce an original song with randomly chosen bandmates and present a music video, along with our business plan. Collaborating with such a talented group of artists while applying what we were learning in class was priceless. The program definitely delivered on its promise of giving us the best summer ever.

    How do you think this program will help in what you want to do next?

    Where do you imagine yourself in 10 years? I had been interested in NYU for years but attending this program helped me see this truly was my number one college choice. It also gave me the chance to speak to people who have made a career out of their passion and not only inspired me to keep chasing my dreams, but gave me the tools to start making them a reality. In ten years, I see myself releasing music I’m proud of and creating unique concert experiences for my audiences.

    GILLIAN DIXON, Georgetown University

    Why did you choose to participate in a pre-college summer program?

    Being my last summer as a high school student, I decided to make the best use possible of it with that being to spend my summer preparing for demanding collegiate life head-on at one of the world’s most renowned universities in the Nation’s Capital.

    How did you decide which summer program was right for you?

    Upon deciding to attend a program, I was immediately drawn to Georgetown’s great variety of options. Georgetown offers an array of programs ranging from one-week seminars to five weeks of college credit courses. Ultimately, I selected the five-week college credit program in which I was able to take multiple college credit-granting courses alongside Georgetown students of all ages. Wanting a head-start in college, I knew this program was right for me because of the rigor and challenge it posed, all of which was completely worth it.

    What was a typical day in your summer program?

    A typical day in my summer program included catching breakfast with a friend at the nearby deli shop Wisemiller’s (where the bagels are amazing!) and then finishing up any work from the day before in preparation for my 1:30 p.m. U.S. Political Systems class. Getting out at 3:30 p.m., I would then head to Epicurean to catch lunch before my 5:45 p.m. Intermediate Span-ish class and, if time permitted, engage in a fun activity hosted by the Georgetown Summer Hoya staff ranging from sand volleyball to hilarious ice-breakers. Getting out of my second class at 7:45 p.m., I quickly found my new friends and we’d do many things either on campus or on the bustling M Street that Georgetown’s known for. We would do things like seeing the latest movie and get a burger, or, we’d stay right on campus and do face masks with our entire floor. It’s truly a routine I’ll never forget!

    What was the most memorable moment of your summer?

    Of this rewarding summer, the most memorable moment had to be the last gathering of my five-week college credit group. We received our honors certificates and celebrated with a pizza party and emotional speeches of gratitude from the students and staff. The room was full of laughter, tears, and joy and is something I will always cherish.

    What advice do you have for teens looking at summer programs?

    In your search for a summer program, I hope you’ll remember to choose a program with your best interest, whether that be a one-week law immersion, a five-week college credit program, or even a three-week foreign policy program. No matter which program you choose, you are bound to form long-lasting friendships, make great memories, and most importantly gain immense knowledge from Georgetown’s stimulating faculty.

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    "GENERATION Z UNFILTERED" BOOK REVIEW: Three Experiences That Foster Maturity

    This excerpt is from the new book: Generation Z Unfiltered—Facing Nine Challenges of the Most Anxious Population.

    Since 1979, I have been committed to mentoring high school and college students. Over time, I’ve noticed the experiences that seem to be the most meaningful ones to my mentees. I’ve recognized how these experiences mature those young leaders as well as build grit and depth in them. Collectively, they serve as a sort of “rite of passage.” Due to the high anxiety levels and the hours Generation Z spends on social media, I believe they need these experiences more than ever. I invite you to consider inserting them as you mentor teens.


    There is something about stepping out of our comfort zones to attempt a risky act—that’s unfamiliar and even a little frightening—that makes us come alive. Our senses are heightened when we feel we are taking a risk; we don’t know what we’re doing; we have to trust and rely on each other. Ideally, these initiatives are intentional and well planned, but they should not be scripted. They must include the element of chance. As a mentor, I’ve taken my mentees downtown to spend the night with homeless people, sleeping on trash bags with newspapers as a blanket. A small dose of “risk” mixed with a big dose of “unfamiliar” accelerates growth.

    When my son was 12, he and I took a father and son trip to another city. We explored loads of new places, but the scariest event on the four-day trip was when I traded places with him in our car and had him drive it around a parking lot. After explaining the gears and pedals, Jonathan overcame his panic and drove that big automobile. Within moments, he was grinning from ear to ear. It turned out to spark an extraordinary conversation, comparing that fear to what he’ll experience becoming an adult. Adulthood is not for the fainthearted; it is about responsibility; being “drivers” not “passengers” in life.

    Facing fears is a rite of passage for teens. Doing something that’s neither prescribed nor guaranteed unleashes adrenaline and other chemicals in our bodies that awaken us. Fear responses produce endorphins, which can be a sort of natural high. Other "feel good” chemicals can also come into play with “scary” experiences, including dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin. Part of the reason more teens don’t “come alive” is we’ve protected them from these rites of passage in the name of safety.


    Another challenge for them to rise to is meeting someone they deem “significant.” Because Gen Z is less at home meeting adults face to face, the encounter itself stretches them. On top of that, meeting significant people invites them to prepare questions to ask and fosters listening skills as well. These can be famous people, but they don’t have to be. The key is they’re people the students believe to be important due to what they’ve accomplished. I was invited to participate in a special meeting in Washington D.C. when my daughter, Bethany, was just nine years old. Because I was going to get to meet congressmen, ambassadors and other civic leaders—I wanted her to experience it with me. Encountering such significant professionals can be intimidating, even to adults like me. But it was fun to introduce her to these people and witness her interacting with them. She eventually felt quite at home, answering their questions, asking them questions and even raising a few eyebrows.

    I was fortunate for the first 20 years of my career to work for best-selling author John C. Maxwell. My kids knew how important he was to so many and were fortunate enough to build a relationship with John and his wife, Margaret. Interacting with the Maxwells en-abled them to overcome social intimidation and to see noteworthy people as “human.” Today, my kids are not star-struck with celebrities and are comfortable interfacing with people of all ages.


    Teens need for adults to let them pursue an objective that has high stakes and to give them full control. Past generations matured more effectively because they were given responsibility for jobs and goals that had genuine meaning at a young age. When we lower the stakes, or we give kids an artificial purpose to engage in—we end up with artificial maturity. While I believe in the value of academics, it’s still a facsimile of a meaningful world, created by our current structures. I meet too many students who master the skill of getting a good grade, yet have trouble translating those grades into a career. “Book smarts” gain meaning as they cultivate “street smarts.” Information must become application.

    When I speak of chasing a big goal, I mean aiming for a target that has deep meaning to the student, one that stretches their capacity and that has high stakes. As a young teen, my son became heavily involved in community theatre programs, and felt he wanted to enter the entertainment industry, film and television. So, my wife and I decided to let Jonathan pursue his big dream at 16 years old. At the time, she was home-schooling him, so we had a bit more freedom with his time. After confirming the seriousness of his ambition, he and his mother moved from Atlanta to Los Angeles for seven months to try his hand at acting. He did all the work to see if this industry really was his passion. The experience was revealing, as you can imagine. He soon recognized that actors do play a role (literally) in that field, but the real influencers are the storytellers. The ones behind the camera, not in front of it.

    When he moved back home, Jonathan was a different young man, more passionate and clear about where his talents lie. He later earned a degree in screenwriting and entered a career in storytelling. He’s writing scripts every week. I believe the key was allowing Jonathan to chase a big goal. Suddenly, he had ambition.

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    HEADSTART: 5 Tips for High Schoolers to Get College Credit from Their Summer Program

    Are you trying to decide whether you should spend next summer studying a textbook or rereading the Harry Potter saga? Spending time with the Hogwarts crew might sound like a lot more fun, but taking a college course for credit has some major upsides.

    “A college class can be a great option for students who desire a more rigorous academic challenge than what their high school offers,” says Nancy Polin, a college counselor who is the founder and president of Educational Excellence, which offers college planning and tutoring services.

    “It’s an opportunity for a student to get their first exposure to what a college class is like and can be used as a stepping stone for a smooth transition and future success as a four-year college student. In some high schools, students can use it to boost their GPA. Probably most important, it can be used to show colleges that you have the ability to be successful at college-level course work,” Polin says.

    It’s important to be clear about your reasons for hitting the books over the summer, says Stacy Hernandez, a college counselor who owns The Best U, another admissions consulting service.

    “Some students are trying to dive more into an academic subject to deepen their knowledge,” she says. “Others want to get exposure to a field of study to help them decide what they want to study in college or do in their career.”

    Gaining some college credits over the summer could help you check off some college graduation requirements or help you skip out of entry-level courses into higher-level classes, says Hernandez, who worked in the admissions departments at Johns Hopkins University and Northeastern University.


    If you want to make sure you get the credits you’ve earned, Polin says the first step is meeting with your high school’s guidance counselor to get the details about your school’s procedures. “Timelines are important because usually there's a lot of paperwork,” she says.

    You may need to have your guidance counselor sign off on the college paperwork in order for you to enroll in a college class. Be sure to check whether or not your high school will list college courses on your transcript.


    Some students have the desire and resources to travel to a summer program.

    “Parents might be eager for their child to gain more independence, so they want them to attend a program where they’re living in the dorms and getting comfortable living on their own,” says Hernandez. “Brown, for example, has a tremendous, diverse range of pre-college classes for high school students.”

    A local community college is a lower-cost option that will provide a mix of educational options, and that works just as well for many students, she says.

    “It doesn't have to be a big, elaborate program,” she says.


    When choosing a class, find one that’s challenging but not over your head. “Most college applications will ask if you’ve taken a college class for credit, and low grades will stay with you,” says Polin. “The college classroom is very different. Teachers give you a syllabus at the beginning of the course, and it’s your responsibility to track what needs to be done. Be sure you understand the expectations from the start.”


    If you are hoping to attend a particular college after you finish high school, be sure to look at transfer policies on the college’s website so you know their criteria for carrying forward your summer credits.

    As a rule of thumb, says Hernandez, the more selective the school, the tighter the guidelines about transferring credits. “You submit your credits when you enroll in college, whether it’s college courses or [Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate] credits,” she says. “Each college has its own evaluation process and its own standards of what it will accept and what it won’t.”

    Checking on transferability is particularly important for non-academic summer programs, such as leadership conferences or outdoor adventure programs that promote leadership, she says.

    From a college’s perspective, not all summer courses are equal.

    “Some pre-college programs offer really interesting elective courses instead of standard classes like Calculus and Physics 101,” says Hernandez. “Those electives won’t necessarily line up with your college’s policies or requirements. It’s a good idea to find the programs that have very standard entry-level type of courses within the core subject realms of math, science, English, social studies and languages.”


    In addition to getting some college credits, a pre-college experience can provide potential material for a college application essay or interview. “You can talk about how you challenged yourself by taking these more rigorous college classes,” Hernandez says. “It’s going to make you a more interesting applicant.”

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    DEAR PARENTS: 7 Things to Tell Your Teen Before a Summer Program

    An overnight summer program, whether on a college campus or at a camp, can be an awesome experience for teenagers. They get a chance to meet new people and try new things or get better at the things they love to do. But…

    Teenagers, being teenagers, often test the boundaries. That’s especially true because overnight summer programs are often the first place they get a chance to be out of the reach of their parents and to just be themselves.

    Before your child goes off to camp or a pre-college program, have a discussion about what you and your child expect from the experience. Summer program experts offer the following suggestions on what to agree on:


    Programs don’t like to send teenagers home, and the teen who’s sent home isn’t happy about it, either, says Michael Knauf, director at French Woods Festival, a performing arts camp in the western Catskill Mountains of New York.

    Programs have strict rules about smoking, vaping, alcohol, drugs and sex. Any of those behaviors could be a deal breaker and end your teen’s summer camp experience on a bad note. Depending on the seriousness of the behavior, the camp could just call to alert you and give your child a warning, or it could be an automatic trip home – at the parents’ expense.

    “The thing (to know) about camp is that everybody knows what everybody else is doing,” says Eve Eiffler, owner of Tips on Trips and Camps, a free service that connects kids with camps and other programs. “There is no time that you are left alone. You have to be at activities, and if you don’t show up, staff members have walkie-talkies to keep track of kids. If you do break the rules, chances are you are going to get caught.”


    If there’s an uncomfortable or unusual situation, find a camp counselor or dorm advisor and discuss the issue.

    “Go to a staff member if there is anything you need help navigating because they are your surrogate parents over the summer,” Eiffler says. “They are there to help you and watch out for you. So if you are afraid or concerned or wondering about things, those are the people you want to go to first. And if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, find another adult.”


    You will be living in close quarters with people you don’t know at first. Respect their space, their property, their feelings and their bodies. You will be among people who think differently than you do, or do things in a way that is different from what you’re used to.. Keep in mind that anyone could become your new best friend or teach you something awesome you don’t know.


    Summer camps don’t have grades, so you can’t fail. And even pre-college academic programs offer activities and field trips that are just for fun. Eiffler advises teenagers to try new things, even if they are afraid they won’t be good at them. You might find that you are better than you thought and find a new life passion or hobby you love.

    “This is the time and place to do that because it’s a sheltered, supportive environment, so it’s OK not to be perfect there,” she says. “Nobody is grading them on how fast they get up on water-skis or how quickly they learn to serve on the tennis court. Take this opportunity to really enjoy yourself and try things you wouldn’t normally do.”


    Camp represents a clean slate for teenagers, especially if they feel pegged into a certain category at home, Knauf says. It’s a great time to think about how you want to be perceived by a new group of people. It can be freeing, and you could learn something new about yourself.

    “Teenagers’ biggest issues are probably self-acceptance, and I think one of the opportunities that they have when they go away to camp is to give up the learned behaviors and the personas and the reputation they have at home and start from scratch,” Knauf says. “It’s a real opportunity. If you are squished in a box where you come from, you can get out of that box.”


    Without parents there to guide you, you need to take more responsibility for your personal safety and well-being, Eiffler says. That includes basics like remembering to apply sunscreen, but it also includes speaking up if you are sick or injured or feel bullied. Don’t keep these things to yourself.


    “This is an expected thing that happens to everybody, and if you start to feel sad or that you miss home or that you can’t take whatever it is, camp staff are all trained to deal with that,” Knauf says.

    As tempting as it might be to call Mom and ask her to come get you, try sticking it out instead.

    “Just because it is hard isn’t a reason to give up,” Knauf says. “If someone is difficult, remember that learning to deal with difficult people is an important life skill. One of the things that you really learn at summer program is how to be in a whole new place, adapt to that, do well, and thrive.”

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    28 SUMMER GOALS: How to Make Summer Goals You Actually Meet

    When summer hits, FINALLY, you might be in a rush to symbolically burn your textbooks. It’s easy to surrender to the pleasurable (but mildly dizzying) feel-ing that a huge stretch of open time is ice cream cone. Or maybe after the fourth. Or maybe next week or the week after that. How many days are in July? 45?

    Or maybe you have no goals and are taking pleasure in that fact: empty to-do list and clear calendar after a busy academic year.

    Or maybe you planned so many activities or jobs into your summer that you think do I need to have a goal on top of this?

    Take a reflective minute before you look up and it’s mid-August and you can’t get the sand out of your mental bathing suit.

    Here are five goal-setting questions to ask before summer break. You can voice record your answers or write them down. Your answers don’t have to look like anyone else’s. They are the precursor to achieving meaningful, personalized goals. Make your lists visually compelling (check out “sketchnoting”):

    • What do I hope to get out of this summer?
    • What will make me feel my time has been well spent?
    • What do I want to feel like at the end of my summer?
    • What are my non-negotiables? (Things you can’t miss, such as taking a family trip to see your grandparents, or taking care of a younger sibling a few hours per week.)
    • What will make my fall semester better if I accomplish it now?

    Be visionary and practical! Share your list with someone whose feedback you trust, or whom you like to talk things over with.

    Some other suggestions you might work into your summer goals, especially as we think about building a compelling college application:

    • Pick one activity that lessens your stress. Get better at it.
    • Learn to cook something.
    • Limit your screen time.
    • Connect with an old friend.
    • Try something new.
    • Notice what you learn, and write it down.

    Steps: Write everything down!

    1. Make a long and short term bucket list
    2. Isolate which activities matter for this summer, not next summer.
    3. Break down into daily chunks.
    4. Diversify how you spend your time.
    5. Figure out at what part of day you are best at what type of task.
    6. Start each day with a mini-list for that day.
    7. Check off each thing as it’s completed.

    People often advise making SMART goals, but I think this acronym has too many letters. Instead, we could make goals so we don’t get lost at SEA. These include: Specifics. Endline. Art.


    State exactly what you want to accomplish. What is the first, smallest step? Don’t overlook any part of the thing. Then what is the next, very specific step? Write it down. And so on.


    By when must you have accomplished that step to be timely? You might note a personal endline and any external deadline. If there is something you need to do by Tuesday, don’t leave it for Wednesday.


    Visualize yourself doing the thing or make a visual reminder. There is a reason at preschool they show a picture of an apple and an orange by snack time– images stick with us and are more direct. It doesn’t matter if you “can’t” draw, so long as you recognize the shape. Additionally, when you visualize yourself doing something, you’re that much more likely to follow through.

    Finally, most of us like to know we’re getting somewhere. Check off items on your master list to signify progress. I suggest a physical list in addition to a list on any electronic device.

    This way, we have #summergoals and meet them without making ourselves crazy. We develop systems we can use in fall. We know we are reliable-- September won’t surprise us. We’ve been visionary and practical. We’ve gained all-important self-knowledge (What do I want? Where do I slack? What is hard for me?), account-ability. And best, we can repeat this process for ANY chunk of time we want to use meaningfully and effectively. Knowing this, we can really enjoy that ice cream.

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    TAKE A RISK: Why Taking a Risk Is Worth It

    Worried that signing up for a 2020 summer program will doom you to weeks of boredom? We get it! Choosing to spend a break from school on, well, more school, sounds a little crazy to most teens. Lucky for you, there’s nothing to worry about. Most college prep summer programs incorporate outdoor activities, sightseeing, and free time into each week, so there won’t be a dull moment.

    Since you will be still spending a good deal of time in class, consider choosing a program that centers around your passions. If you love music, why not try a perform-ing arts program? If you’re crazy about sports, maybe a recreation and fitness program would be more up your alley. If you’re still not sure what your passion is, don’t sweat it. Your teen years are all about exploration and self-discovery, so take this summer to try something new.


    1. Keeps you from feeling “stuck”

    Ever heard the phrase “variety is the spice of life”? When we do the same things over and over again, life can get a little dull. We also get stuck in comfortable ruts that are increasingly difficult to leave. Eventually, we’re so set in our ways that it’s hard to branch out and try new things—even when we really want to.

    For this very reason, it’s important to train ourselves to be open to new experiences. In adulthood, success depends less on your former GPA and more on your ability to adapt. Life throws a lot of fastballs, so it’s critical to be able to roll with the punches. Trying new things keeps your mind flexible, keeping you from getting stuck in those hard to escape ruts.

    2. Uses your brain in new ways

    Your brain is a pretty powerful thing. You already know it controls the long list of biological functions that keep you alive and that it gives you the power of thought, but it does even more than that. Your brain adapts to your environment, and somewhat like a muscle, the more you use it, the more efficiently it works. When you learn something new, more neural pathways are formed, increasing the speed at which you absorb new information.

    During the process, you’ll also make connections between the new skills you learned and ones you already have, giving you an even bigger boost to your learning speed. For an added bonus, regularly learning new things helps protect your brain from dementia later in life. The short version? The more you learn, the faster you can learn it, and the healthier your brain will be.

    3. Helps to overcome fear

    Living a risk-free life might be safe, but without risk there’s little reward. Trying new things helps you to become confident in your ability to put yourself out there, even when it’s a little (or extremely!) nerve-wracking. When we first try something new, it’s natural to feel a little uncomfortable or embarrassed, but making mistakes is nothing to be ashamed of. Getting comfortable with discomfort can help you grow, and will prepare you for anxiety-inducing situations once you get to college.

    4. Allows you to understand yourself better

    Throwing yourself into college with no direction is rough, but it’s incredibly common. At 18, plenty of people are still unsure of what they really want to do, and that’s normal! Often, it takes students a few wrong turns before they find the academic path they’re meant to trav-el. That said, knowing your skills and personality can help smooth out the road ahead. When you try new things, you learn about yourself. You discover what activities you love and which aren’t for you.

    More importantly, you discover how you like to work, where you thrive, and what kind of lifestyle fits your personality. You might find you love to collaborate with a big team. You might realize you’re pretty introverted and would prefer a career that allows you to fly solo. You might find out you love the challenge of working under pressure and solving tough problems...goodbye, English major, hello, future lawyer!

    5. Introduces you to new ideas and people

    The world is a big place. Really, really big. Every part of it is filled with unique people and cultures, but most people are only familiar with their own, tiny corner. Broadening your horizons and getting to know people from all walks of life fosters appreciation, respect, and killer success.

    One study compared the problem-solving skills of groups of students with the same nationality to those with varied nationalities. While students reported being more comfortable working with peers that were similar to themselves, the groups with different nationalities consistently finished faster and were more accurate than the single nationality groups. In other words, being around people who think differently than we do broadens our perspective and allows us to understand life, and ourselves, in new ways.

    6. Looks great on college applications

    Having a wide range of experiences on your college applications shows the admissions office that you have a growth mindset- you’re excited to learn, up for a challenge, and ready for whatever college throws your way.

    You only have one summer 2020, so don’t play it safe. Put yourself out there, take a risk, and get fired up about something new! It might be scary, but you won’t regret it.

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    10 COLLEGE INTERVIEW QUESTIONS. Do You Know the Answers?

    If you’re going to college, expect to be interviewed by a college representative. It’s a vital part of the college admissions process. Why? Colleges want to get to know you: Who you are, what your goals are, and how you will contribute to the student population. They also want to see how you answer questions, how informed you are, and your views on other topics.

    When my daughter was in the midst of her college search, she was interviewed by a representative of Boston University. Since this was her first choice college, she was nervous. She wanted to make a good impression and appear intelligent and confident. She prepared for some interview questions. Not all of them were asked, but it helped her go into the interview more relaxed. Although she wasn’t a top candidate according to their applicant statistics, the interview resulted in an offer of admission.

    You Can Ace the College Interview with Preparation Most high school students dread the college interview. But it doesn’t have to send you running in the opposite direction. With a little preparation and a confidence boost because of the preparation, you can ace the interview. I’m not saying that you should memorize answers to questions, but being prepared to answer these common questions will showcase your communication skills and communicate that you took the time to think and prepare for the interview.

    Here is a list of 10 interview questions colleges might ask and suggestions on how to respond. They may not be exactly as worded, but they will fall into one of four categories: questions about your fit with the college, questions about your personality, questions about interests and goals, and broader questions requiring a more thoughtful response.


    1. How would you describe yourself to someone who did not know you?

    Use this question to communicate your passions and even your quirks. This makes you a “person” and not just a name on an application. Find something that makes you memorable and use it to give the interviewer a snapshot into who you are. You could answer, “I love creating competitions with my friends to see who can run the furthest over a given period of time.” Or you could say, “I do my best thinking in the shower.” Be creative and make this a memorable answer. The colleges have your grades and your application. They want to know what makes you unique.

    2. What do you expect to be doing ten years from now?

    This question is challenging because ten years from now is six years after you’ve graduated from college. Who knows what they will be doing ten years from now? Odds are you have no idea and haven’t even thought about it. It’s acceptable to answer, “I don’t know”, if you explain your answer. You are still in high school and have no idea what lies ahead. Explain that college will shape who you are, what you pursue, and what career path you take. An honest response is always the best response.

    If you are still a freshman or sophomore, think about what summer experiences or programs could expose you to careers that potentially interest you. This way, you may be able to express some thoughts about what you do (or don’t!) expect to be doing.

    3. What are your strengths and weaknesses?

    Most interviewers love this question and most students answer it with little thought. Think about this question. It’s not enough to say you are a leader or you are a loyal friend. You need examples and incidents that communicate your strengths, and will help the judges understand why you believe they are strengths. When talking about a weakness, be honest. The key is to show that you are taking steps to minimize or overcome this weakness. For instance, if you are a procrastinator, explain how you are developing time management skills, goal setting, and using organization tools to correct it.

    4. How would you contribute to our college community?

    Be specific when answering this question. Since the question asks about the community, it should be community-oriented. How will you make the college a better place? Think about how you see yourself interacting with other students on campus and how you will enhance your experience by becoming involved in activities outside the classroom. Think outside the box on this one and find a way that your own uniqueness will contribute to the community. It helps to explore what activities and clubs the college off

    5. What subject in high school did you find most challenging?

    Even if you’re an excellent student, there will be subjects that challenge you. Use this opportunity to show how you tackled the challenge (tutoring, one-on-one with the teacher, study groups, etc.). This shows colleges that even if you face difficulty in a college course, you know how to get help. ers in advance of the interview. The interviewer will appreciate if you know the name of the college radio station or a student organization that you’d like to become involved with.

    6. Why do you want to attend this college?

    Use this question to reveal something about yourself that they might not know. Don’t state the obvious and say—because it’s a top-tiered college, or they have majors that interest you, or your parents went there. Walk the interviewer through the thought process you took when selecting the college. This will communicate what’s important to you and show them what you value, why you want to attend their college, and what you hope to gain from an education there.

    7. Who do you most admire?

    When interviewers ask this question they are trying to learn something about you through the person you admire most. It says something about you so it’s important to explain your choice. It’s not enough just to give a name, you need to know something about the person and why they inspire you. Don’t be frivolous with this question, it shows what you value most in a person and how you will model your success based on that person’s admirable attributes.

    8. What is your favorite book and why?

    They are not looking for a book report. What they want to learn is more about who you are from the books you read, which are an indicator of your interests, beliefs, goals, likes and dislikes. Did the book make you think differently or cause you to take action? How did you relate to a particular character or setting? It doesn’t have to be a literary classic, but you should be ready to explain why you love it.

    9. How have you been a leader or displayed leadership?

    Don’t list off a bunch of titles and positions. Focus on one specific leadership position and give detail to show the depth of your commitment. Cite concrete accomplishments like organizing a drive to gather toys for the Ronald McDonald House or enlisting a group of volunteers to teach senior citizens how to use social media. Remember that you don’t have to hold an office or title or elected position to be a leader. Describing how you organized something or motivated a group of people is just as impressive. Leadership isn’t communicated by titles, but by action.

    10. What challenge have you overcome?

    You can draw from many different types of challenges: academic, personal, work, goals, tragedy, and even an ethical dilemma. This question is designed to determine what type of problem solver you are; college is about developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The answer to this question will help the interviewer see that you have demonstrated these abilities by overcoming a challenge.

    And one last question every college will ask: Do you have any questions for me?

    These questions and answers will not only set you apart from other applicants, but they will give the admissions officer a reason to put your application in the accepted pile. An added bonus is that these questions (or similar ones) will be asked on job interviews. It’s good preparation for interviewing for internships, scholarships, and future career opportunities.

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    Make this your summer to take a chance, explore the world, learn something new. We have a program that fits your schedule and budget in our listings.

    Learn to start a business, speak a language, write code or climb a mountain; travel far or stick close to home; spend a week, a month, or all summer. All the options are here. And many programs offer grants or scholarships.

    So what are you waiting for? Find your best summer in the list below or by visiting www.TeenLife.com!

    Academic Overnight Summer Programs


    The ACLU National Advocacy Institute brings high school students together to participate in a week-long, firsthand learning experience for the next generation of social justice advocates. Through seminars, lectures, and policy debates with ACLU lawyers and activists, students will explore the complex nature of issue advocacy, legal strategy, and real-world political decision making.

    Learn More »


    At Adelphi University’s top-ranked Pre-College Program, you’ll live on our beautiful campus and take a class in the kind of exciting, challenging subject you dream about. Experience fun social events, college readiness workshops, excursions to nearby New York City, and mentoring from professors. Plus, you’ll earn three transferable college credits.

    Learn More »


    Alfred University offers summer programs in astronomy, art, creative writing, ceramic and glass engineering, robotics, theater, equestrian, and swimming. New this year, we will be offering a boys and girls basketball camp (residential) as well as a Chamber Music Institute and a camp on “Optics (non-physics)” to answer the question “Why does it look like that?” Students enjoy learning, making friends and experiencing life on a college campus.

    Learn More »


    Discover the World of Communication at American University offers interactive workshops for students entering grades 9-12 where you will learn to build a digital portfolio, write a script, shoot and edit a film, write a news story like a pro, speak with confidence, persuade, inform, educate, and entertain.


    Andover Summer at Phillips Academy offers a rigorous, engaging academic program for middle and high school students, with day and boarding programs available on our 500-acre Andover cam-pus. With over 60 courses, Andover’s summer programs serve students from all over the world.

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    Explore future study and career interests at Australia’s #1 university, ranked #26 in the world. Enroll for 1 – 2 weeks with options in STEM, humanities, business, design, performing arts. Live on campus in the heart of the world’s most livable city. Make friends from around the world. $1,350/week. Scholarships available.

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    The Baruch Leadership Academy brings talented high school students from around the globe together in New York City for intellectually stimulating and culturally enriching academic exploration. The Academy offers six dynamic summer programs and SAT prep for motivated high school students interested in pursuing careers in medicine, business finance, and technology

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    This summer, prepare for your college future with exciting and challenging summer programs for high school students at Boston University Summer Term. With five programs to choose from you can earn college credit, discover new subject areas, perform cutting edge research in university labs, or immerse yourself in hands-on learning.

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    Each summer, talented high school students from around the world enroll in Brown Pre College Programs to experience Ivy League academics and prepare for a successful transition to college. More than 300 courses, in one to seven-week sessions on campus, online, or around the world.


    The Pre-College Program in American History hosted by the National Institute of American History & Democracy at William & Mary College engages rising high school juniors and seniors in an interdisciplinary approach to learning history during visits to historic sites in Virginia. Students earn 4 hours of transferrable college credit during the three-week residential program.

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    Cornell University Summer College offers pre-college programs for motivated high school students. Experience the excitement of college life, take college courses with renowned faculty, and enjoy an unforgettable, life-changing summer with 1,000 other high school students.

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    Cushing Academy’s five-week Summer Session offers academic and enrichment programs for ages 11 to 18. You’ll engage in a dynamic learning environment and take part in fun and exciting weekend activities and events. Specific areas of study include STEM workshops, classes for credit, studio art instruction, and academic skill-building programs.

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    Duke Programs offers a wide range of intellectually stimulating and fun activities for middle and high school students. Participants can choose from a variety of options: writing, STEM, leadership and video production. Participants will have the chance to experience college life while living on Duke University’s beautiful campus.

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    Today, the most successful students start their career exploration journey in high school, not at the end of senior year. Enter EXPLO: your opportunity to explore strengths and interests while connecting with industry experts who can get you started on the path toward your first great job. Residential and day programs for grades 8-12.

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    In Georgetown University’s Summer High School Programs, you can live on campus, meet classmates from around the world, and earn college credit—all while experiencing the excitement of college life. Explore programs ranging from one to eight weeks that cover everything from medicine and foreign policy to leadership, journalism, and law.


    Experience Harvard College! Our programs are designed for high achieving students age 15-19 to prepare you both academically and socially for a successful college experience. You will expand your worldview, test-drive potential majors, gain valuable knowledge and skills, and form long-lasting relationships amid a community of supportive peers and advisors.

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    INTO PREP—Bryn Mawr, PA

    INTO PREP is a premier college preparatory program that has helped students get into schools of their dreams for nearly a decade. Situated on Bryn Mawr College’s Campus, our residential camp is perfect for highly motivated students who seek to boost their SAT scores in a collegiate, fun environment.

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    The exclusive ISSOS summer school program offers high school students from all over the world (age 13-18) the unique opportunity to combine learning, creative enrichment, and action-packed adventure at one of three amazing, historic and picturesque universities: St. Andrews in Scotland; Cambridge in England; and Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.

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    LMU offers an engaging opportunity for motivated high school students to get a sneak peek at college life through a unique two-week experience designed to challenge students’ critical and creative ways of thinking.


    For over 30 years, the National Student Leadership Conference has invited a select group of outstanding high school students to participate in its fast-paced, high-level, interactive pre-college summer sessions. Choose from more than 30 special-interest programs hosted on college campuses around the U.S.

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    Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development Summer Program has earned global recognition as a premier learning experience. Academically advanced students enjoy academic challenges through fast-paced enrichment, honors, and Advanced Placement courses, taught in a highly supportive environment near Chicago.


    Experience college life at Northwestern University this summer in the College Prep Program. High school sophomores and juniors can earn college credit in undergraduate classes or take a two-week seminar at the university ranked #9 nationally by U.S. News and World Report.

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    Motivated students ages 10+ will enhance their summer through additional learning opportunities on a unique, downtown campus. Students enjoy access to the University’s award-winning faculty, cutting- edge facilities and a hands-on, experiential learning style. We offer programs in athletics, cinema arts, dance, forensic science, journalism, and theatre.


    Smith College welcomes more than 300 young women in high school who want to pursue their academic interests in and outside of the classroom, strengthen their college applications, and meet other motivated, ambitious college-bound students from around the world.

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    St. John’s Summer Academy is a college summer program for high school students (ages 15 to 18), modeled after St. John’s discussion-based, interdisciplinary method of teaching the great books. A hands-on introduction to college, with engaging workshops and awesome off-campus excursions, our Great Books Summer Reading Program helps students hone their reading, critical thinking, and discussion skills.

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    Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes is a three-week summer residential program held on Stanford campus that provides academically talented and intellectually curious students currently in grades 8–11 with intensive study in a single course.

    SUMMER DISCOVERY—Multiple Locations

    Summer Discovery offers pre-college academic and enrichment programs for middle and high school students. Spend your summer experiencing col-lege life while gaining independence and confidence. Courses are taught by university instructors and students live on campus, exploring university towns for a robust pre-college summer experience.


    UConn Pre-College Summer provides rising high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to live and learn through four challenging and intensive one-week sessions to choose from at UConn Storrs, a nationally ranked public university campus.

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    UMass Amherst Summer Pre-College provides an opportunity for motivated high school students to earn college credit in an academic or research-based program, live in the premium Honors Residential Community, eat in our award-winning dining hall, and discover what makes Amherst an amazing college town.

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    The Terp Young Scholars program invites high school students with exceptional ability and promise to an outstanding pre-college experience at the University of Maryland. During three weeks in July, students earn 3 college credits and learn about university life.


    The Wasatch Academy summer school program gives students from around the world an interactive learning approach coupled with a whole lot of fun. Students can make the most of their summer through a combination of program offerings, outdoor activities, and a tight-knit community.

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    Wellesley College is acknowledged as the top women’s college and is ranked #3 in liberal arts schools in the US. Known for its gifted faculty, high achieving alumnae, and unique culture, Wellesley is the perfect place for a Pre-College Program for high school students. Everything about Wellesley radiates its commitment to women. It provides an unequaled experience that honors individuality and cultivates empowerment, community, and belonging.

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    Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) is an academic summer enrichment program for outstanding high school students from around the world. Each summer, students from over 125 countries participate in one of five interdisciplinary, 2-week sessions at Yale’s historic campus.

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    Arts Overnight Summer Programs


    Residential Junior Artists workshops at Idyllwild Arts provide life-changing experiences for middle school-aged kids eager to unleash their creative spirits on 205 beautiful acres that evoke a traditional summer camp. Junior Artists learn and explore in a positive environment and develop their individual creative expressions.


    New York University Tisch School of the Arts offers high school students professional training in the cinematic and performing arts, and emerging media. Students earn six college credits in the four-week residential program. Programs are available for sophomores and juniors. Need-based scholarships are available.

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    Summer of Art at Otis College is a four-week college preparation program for art and design. The program is designed to develop your artistic and creative skills. We welcome serious young artists seeking to strengthen and enhance their art and design skills, but students with limited art training also are invited to participate.

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    Oxbow Summer Art Camp is a unique art-immersion program in Napa, California, which inspires teens to discover and develop their art practice and sense of self. Each summer we bring together an inspiring group of artists who are passionate teachers, learners, and creators. We build an open-minded community in which teens can deeply engage in studios and co-curricular activities.

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    SAIC’s Early College Program is a great way to earn college credit and explore your passion for art at one of the most historically significant accredited independent schools of art and design in the nation, in the heart of Chicago!


    Designed for teens with a strong interest in the art world, Sotheby’s Institute Pre-college Program invites students to spend two weeks immersed in the most vibrant arts and culture capital: New York City. Explore different facets of the New York art scene, learn with experts, and discover how the art world works from the inside out.

    US PERFORMING ARTS CAMPS—Multiple Locations

    US Performing Arts was founded in 2001 to provide the very best training in the performing arts and digital media for pre-college students entering middle school through high school graduation. USPA offers summer programs that give passionate and talented students the opportunity to hone their craft with award-winning Hollywood and Broadway professionals. Summer programs are located at top-tier universities across the country.

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    Business / Entrepreneurship Overnight Summer Programs


    The Smith Sports and Entertainment Business Program (SEBP) at the University of Maryland is a two-week residential program providing rising 10th, 11th and 12th graders an overview of careers in the sports and entertainment industries. Students will learn first-hand from sports and entertainment career professionals trained to teach topics such as management, law, negotiation, marketing, and leadership.

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    Community Service Overnight Summer Programs

    RALEIGH INTERNATIONAL—Multiple Destinations

    Raleigh Expedition offers international volunteering programs in Nepal, Tanzania, and Costa Rica. The program engages students in long-lasting change through community, environmental, and adventure leadership projects. With more than 30 years’ experience of working with young people, our history of volunteering dates back to members of the British royal family.

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    VISIONS SERVICE ADVENTURES—Multiple Destinations

    Visions Service Adventures hold an unfailing belief in the ability of teens to contribute to a better future. You’ll settle into the daily life of the host community, get to know locals, experience different customs and feel a sense of global connection. Locations include Alaska, Montana, Central, and South America, and Asia.

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    Health / Wellness Overnight Summer Programs


    On iBME teen retreats in the USA and Canada, we practice meditation techniques and mindful movement, connect in small discussion groups, participate in fun workshops, and have free time to make lifelong friends. Our program guides teens in developing self-awareness, compassion, and ethical decision-making, and empowers them to apply these skills in improving their lives and communities.

    Language Overnight Summer Programs


    Sol Abroad is a premier summer study abroad program for high school students specializing in Spanish language and immersion. Sol Abroad programs are located in some of the most unique Spanish-speaking locations in the world. Anyone with an interest in Spanish language and culture is welcome! No language experience required. Join us for the summer of your life!

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    CESA Languages Abroad offers summer teenage courses in France, Spain, Germany, and Japan. All courses are held in accredited, quality language schools, providing language tuition for beginner to advanced levels, on courses of 1 to 6 weeks+ duration. CESA Languages Abroad is based in the UK and has been offering language programs abroad for over 30 years (est. 1980).

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    Our summer language programs immerse teens in one of 15 languages: Arabic, Chinese, Danish, English, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish or Swedish. Our programs are a powerful combination of language immersion and summer camp fun.

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    earn a language abroad on the adventure of a lifetime. You will see the world, experience a new culture, and make friends from 100 countries as you prepare for your global future. Start any Monday and study from two weeks to up to a whole year. Study in France, Italy, Costa Rica, Spain, Germany, Japan, Korea, China, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates. Ages 13 and up.


    Middlebury Interactive Languages™ Summer Language Academy offers four weeks of language immersion for rising 8th-12th graders interested in improving their language skills. Students will have the confidence and capability to cross-cultural boundaries and understand new world views while improving their language skills and making lifelong friends. Languages offered in the U.S. sites are Spanish, French, Chinese, and Arabic. Or students can choose to study in Spain, France, or China.

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    Learning Differences Overnight Summer Programs

    SOAR SUMMER CAMP—Multiple Locations

    SOAR offers high adventure summer camps designed specifically for youth and young adults between the ages of 8 and 25 diagnosed with ADHD and LD. Each of our summer camp programs promotes friendships, increases self-confidence, and develops life skills.

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    Outdoor Adventure Overnight Summer Programs


    The Appalachian Mountain Club offers exciting and rewarding outdoor trips designed for ages 12-19, focusing on adventure, leadership, advocacy, and conservation—all in spectacular destinations. Ranging in length from 5-20 days, our teen adventures combine one or more outdoor activities – such as hiking, backpacking, climbing, and canoeing - with valuable wilderness and essential life skills.

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    NOLS Adventure Courses and Classic Expeditions for teens offer a curriculum specifically designed to focus on their needs. These expeditions provide an opportunity to disconnect from technology and reconnect in the wilderness. Each course introduces lifelong leadership skills to prepare students for leadership roles in school, on teams and beyond. Students will build lasting connections with peers, a deeper understanding of themselves, and leadership skills that will last a lifetime.

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    Located in Missouri’s eastern Ozarks, Camp Lakewood’s overnight summer camp for kids ages 6-17 provides a well-rounded experience for campers by getting them outdoors having fun while learning life skills within a safe and trusted environment. Teen programs are about adventures, personal growth, activities, and new friends.

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    STEM Overnight Summer Programs


    Acadia Institute of Oceanography’s Advanced Sessions are pre-college summer courses offered to students age 15-19 to examine marine science through a unique hands-on curriculum that combines biological, physical and chemical oceanography. We also offer students the chance to explore their collegiate options with college tours and the opportunity to receive 4 credits from the University of Maine Machias.


    Boston Leadership Institute’s award-winning programs provide valuable credentials for college applications. Business, pre-med, engineering, and science programs available as both three-week and one-week options. Students may be either day or residential. Choose from programs such as biomedical and surgical research, neuroscience, oncology, finance, STEM entrepreneurship, chemistry research, robotics and electronics, architecture and many more.

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    The Emory Pre-College Program is the perfect setting for high school students who want to explore different areas of study, possible majors and career paths in medicine and science. Immerse yourself this summer in courses such as Sports Medicine, Pre-Med Studies, Medical Microbiology, Infectious Diseases, or Cancer Research.

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    The Engineering Summer Academy at PENN (ESAP) welcomes highly motivated and talented students to explore engineering at the college level. Work with leading faculty while earning college credit, live on Penn’s historic campus, and connect with new friends from around the world!

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    iD TECH CAMPS—Multiple Locations

    At iD Tech Camps, students build in-demand skills in coding, game development, robotics engineering, and design. The top universities on the planet - Stanford, NYU, Caltech - have trusted and hosts our programs for over 20 years, inspiring students to dream BIG. Held at more than 130 locations worldwide.

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    Pathways to Stem Cell Science is a unique non-profit biotech-based education and research institute located in Los Angeles, California. Our educational mission is to “inspire, guide and prepare students for future bioscience careers, with an emphasis on the cutting edge fields of stem cell biology and regenerative medicine”. Learn cutting-edge science from professional research scientists in a real biotech research lab working hands-on with actual stem cells.

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    SCI-Arc’s Design Immersion Days (DID) is an immersive four-week summer program that introduces high school students of varying backgrounds to the academic and professional world of design and architecture. It’s intended to inspire curiosity and help students gain basic design knowledge and critical thinking skills, and familiarize them with the expansive architectural and design culture of Los Angeles.

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    Wagner College Pre-College Medicine and Science Program track is designed to introduce students to the practice of medicine in our society while providing them with both lecture and hands-on clinical skills and practicing real-life medical scenarios. Coupled with this course is a 2nd course that introduces students to a variety of science disciplines and associated professional careers.

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    The Wellesley Pre-College Summer Residential Programs offer courses and workshops from engineering to computer modeling. Students can engage with top professors in small, intimate classroom settings. Designed specifically for the female student, these programs provide students with the chance to enrich and further explore interests in STEM fields.

    Travel / Culture Overnight Summer Programs


    The Global Scholars Program (GSP) at African Leadership Academy is an overnight leadership experience for high school students from across the world. Design-thinking, social entrepreneurship, cross-cultural exchange, and adventure challenges prepare future leaders to create change across Africa and the world.

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    TRAVEL FOR TEENS—Multiple Destinations

    Travel For Teens believes that summer travel should be both fun and enriching. We offer cultural exploration, community service, language, and photography as well as Younger Teens and Older Teens programs to Europe, Africa, Latin America, Oceania, Asia, and North America for students entering 8th grade through college.

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    There are many programs that are geared specifically to “younger teens” who are just beginning to explore the world around them. Many involve travel (in the US or abroad) or community service. Others engage students in coding, music, theater or art. Language learning is another great option. Either way, the benefits are undeniable: an increase in self-awareness, expansion of social skills, and learning about the world beyond home in a safe, age-appropriate way that is both rewarding and enjoyable. Find your opportunity here or on www.TeenLife.com!

    Academic Middle School Summer Programs


    Duke Youth Programs offers a wide range of intellectually stimulating and fun activities for middle school students. Participants can choose from a variety of options in STEM programs and video production and will have the chance to experience college life while living on Duke University’s beautiful campus.

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    For over 30 years, the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) has invited a select group of outstanding middle and high school students to participate in its fast-paced, high-level, interactive pre-college summer sessions hosted on college campuses.

    Learn More »


    Northwestern University’s Center for Talent Development Summer Program has earned global recognition as a premier learning experience. Academically advanced students enjoy academic challenges through fast-paced enrichment, honors, and Advanced Placement courses, taught in a highly supportive environment near Chicago.


    Point Park University offers several summer programs for younger teens on our campus located in Downtown Pittsburgh! Options include a Summer Dance Workshop, a two-day Service-Learning Camp, and athletic camps for baseball and basketball.

    Arts Middle School Summer Programs


    The Idyllwild Arts Summer Programs enrich arts lovers of all skill levels and ages in its Teens & Kids Summer Programs. It provides focused, hands-on learning experiences in all arts disciplines. In a supportive environment that is as relaxed as any summer camp, students immerse themselves in their chosen arts outlet.

    Language Middle School Summer Programs


    EF’s Junior Language Program courses provide an ideal learning environment for younger students ages 13 to 15 who want to make maximum progress with 26 or 20 language lessons a week. Focus on communicating clearly in everyday situations by building competency through conversation, accuracy through exercises and confidence through our friendly environment.

    Outdoor Adventure Middle School Summer Programs


    Dive in and discover the wonders of the outdoors with NOLS. Designed for students ages 14-15, Adventure courses are a fun way to get started learning leadership and outdoor skills. Each course introduces lifelong leadership skills to prepare students for leadership roles in school, on teams and beyond. With the help of our experienced instructors, students will build lasting connections with peers, deeper understanding of themselves, and leadership skills that will last a lifetime.

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    Located in Missouri’s eastern Ozarks, Camp Lakewood’s overnight summer camp for kids ages 6-17 provides a well-rounded experience for campers by getting them outdoors having fun while learning life skills within a safe and trusted environment. Teen programs are about adventures, personal growth, activities, and new friends. Campers build character, friendships, and memories that last a lifetime.

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    STEM Middle School Summer Programs


    The Acadia Institute of Oceanography introduces young people to the exciting world of marine science through a unique hands-on curriculum that combines biological, physical and chemical oceanography with field, classroom, offshore, and laboratory work. Designed for students age 12-15, this two-week course presents a solid natural history approach to oceanography and introduces students to basic marine concepts and laboratory procedures.

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    A gap year—a break from traditional academics—is a chance to push the “pause” button after high school and learn “experientially” before plunging back into academia. Students can use the time to cultivate the maturity, balance, self-awareness and independence that life beyond high school requires. The programs listed below are just some of the many options available to high school graduates as they prepare for their future. They cater to all kinds of interests, destinations, schedules, and budgets. Find more on www.TeenLife.com.

    Academic Gap Year Programs


    American University’s Gap Program offers an academic and internship experience in our nation’s capital, providing the perfect springboard for future academic and career success. Let our 70 years of experience help you choose an internship as unique as you are.

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    Spend a gap year with CET before college and get started now by studying Arabic, Chinese, Italian, or Japanese. No matter where you go, you’ll take advantage of carefully designed gap programs with four core components: intensive language instruction, immersive housing, local community connections, and 24/7 staff support.

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    Students are mentored by Times experts—some of the world’s greatest thinkers on topics ranging from politics, culture, business, technology and more. This semester-long program gives students the opportunity to explore their passions and grapple with complex subjects while sharpening important life skills such as effective communication, critical thinking, information literacy, leadership, and ethics.

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    Adventure Gap Year Programs


    HMI’s Gap Semesters unite outdoor adventure, environmental service, and leadership development on an uninterrupted journey to some of the world’s most awe-inspiring places. Our students realize their full potential to thrive as engaged citizens of the world by exploring with intention.

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    NOLS GAP YEAR EXPEDITIONS—Multiple Locations

    Take time for your future on a NOLS gap year. NOLS created the original wilderness semester and we continue to lead the way - just like our graduates. On any semester or year course, learn multiple outdoor skills and gain in-depth leadership skills through an extensive hands-on progression guided by your instructors. We prepare students for school, teamwork, and life through a proven curriculum.

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    Community Service Gap Year Programs

    RALEIGH INTERNATIONAL—Multiple Destinations

    Raleigh International believes young people everywhere can change the world. On our Expedition program, we empower students with the skills, experience, and connections to become leaders of change. They will help create youth-driven change that lasts on community, environmental, and adventure leadership projects. Change Starts on Expedition in Costa Rica, Nepal, and Tanzania.

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    A BROADER VIEW VOLUNTEERS—Multiple Destinations

    A Broader View Volunteers program is designed with a humanitarian focus, offering meaningful volunteer work projects combined with a cultural immersion experience. They are designed to give travelers an enriching, life-changing experience while volunteering abroad. Participating in locally led volunteer work gives you the opportunity to experience, learn and contribute to society in ways that traditional travel does not do.

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    Language Gap Year Programs


    CESA Languages Abroad Gap Programs offers high-quality language programs for ALL abilities. You can immerse yourself in the language and culture of a country for a few weeks or several months with start dates throughout the year. CESA has years of experience and has built relationships with all of the language colleges.

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    EF LANGUAGE YEAR ABROAD—Multiple Locations

    Invest in your dreams. Achieve fluency, see the world, expand your international network – and launch your global future. Prepare for an official exam, gain international work experience, and expand your network. College credit avail-able allowing you to make progress towards a current or future degree while abroad. Study for 6, 9 or 11 months and start in April, June, September or January. L

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    Learning Differences Gap Year Program

    GAP YEAR AT SOAR—Multiple Locations

    The GAP Year at SOAR is specially designed to empower young adults ages 18–24 with ADHD or other Learning Disabilities through adventure, travel, and independent living. Developed directly from parent feedback, this program meets the needs of those who have graduated from high school but are not quite ready to step into a university or work-force setting.

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