Summer Learning Programs

Summer Learning Programs and Experiences
Shining Mountain Waldorf School
College Counselor| Trevor Donadt


Dear High School Students and Parents,

In this document, you will find information and opportunities regarding summer learning programs and experiences for high school students.  Summer is an ideal time to explore a career, offer ones services, become and entrepreneur, get more involved, volunteer ones talents, and develop skills.

In preparing for college and post-secondary opportunities keep in mind:

1)    Diversifying the High School Experience

Colleges like to see students being active during the summer through work, volunteer experiences, travel, living abroad, sports, and academic experiences like college classes, etc. Students who go beyond the opportunities offered by their high school and take advantage of opportunities abroad, in the community, athletically, and academically are definitely viewed better in the application process.

2)    A Variety of Programs and Benefits

There are summer programs in just about every area of study, from academic subjects to skills such as playing an instrument or sport.  Many colleges offer pre-college or summer programs.  You can start by picking a few schools and doing a search on their websites.  Start at the Enrichment Alley website to find summer opportunities-

3)    Pursue Your Interests

Summer programs can help you cultivate a talent or interest in the arts, humanities, or sciences.  For example, the California State Summer School for the Arts, held on the campus of California Institute for the Arts (CalArts)  in Valencia, has programs in film and video, creative writing, visual arts, animation, dance, music and theatre.  Meanwhile, the Michigan Tech Summer Youth Program allows students to participate in weeklong “Explorations” in science and technology, business, engineering, computing, outdoor and environmental studies, leadership, and a variety of social science and humanities subjects.  Closer to home, check out your local performing arts centers, science museums and parks; many have summer programs where you can get hands-on experience in areas ranging from set design to environmental education.

4)    Gain Experience Outside the Classroom

Summer programs often involve lots of hands-on learning.  Many residential summer school programs include sports, travel, and social activities in their curricula.  Personal development and leadership skills are also major themes.  For example, students at the University of Wyoming Summer High School Institute take a personal growth seminar, in addition to their academic classes.

5)    Enhance Your High School Transcript

Attending a challenging summer school class can increase your chances of getting into a competitive college (if that is your goal).  In fact, some summer school programs can be as competitive as colleges, requiring an extensive application complete with PSAT, ACT or SAT scores, teacher recommendations, and a personal essay.  While attendance at a high-powered summer school like Harvard Secondary School Program (SSP) does not guarantee that you will get into an Ivy League school, it does add a certain luster to your college applications.  Also, CU, CSU, Front Range Community College, etc…are excellent local options to take college level classes during the summer.

Summer Programs Alpha List (pre-college, abroad, and service programs)

Online Courses

Before recommending any online course, be sure to check with college admission offices regarding their policies toward online coursework. 

Free Online College Courses

These online offerings have become a very popular way to take college courses for free from the top schools.  I am not sure if they are accredited or if you can receive college credit. (offered by MIT and Harvard)

Https:// (offered by a variety of top colleges)

Accredited Online Study Opportunities:

  • Laurel Springs School
  • EPGY Program at Stanford
  • Advanced Academics
  • APEX Learning Virtual School
  • Aventa Learning
  • Brigham Young University Independent Study
  • Connections Academy
  • Education 2020
  • Florida Virtual School
  • K 12, Inc.
  • Kaplan Virtual Education
  • National University Virtual High School
  • Plato Learning
  • Riverside Virtual School
  • UC College Prep Online (UCCP)
  • UC Irvine Extension
  • VHS, Inc. Virtual High School Global Consortium




Summer School Tips:

When looking for a summer school program, here are some important factors to consider:

  • ·       How much of the summer do you want to commit to school?  Programs can range from five days to eight weeks.
  • ·       What do you want to get out of a summer program? Your goal might be to improve your academic skills, pursue a hobby that you are passionate about, learn a new skill; practice a second language, etc…
  • ·       Where do you want to stay?  You can find residential programs where you live in dorms with other students.  In other programs, you live at home, attending the summer program only during the day.
  • ·       Can you receive college credit for summer courses?  A student would want to check with the school that they take the course at.
  • ·       How much can you spend on summer courses or programs?

Summer Academic Programs

Specialized Academic Summer Programs

Summer Pre-College Programs

Almost all colleges have summer pre-college programs where students can take college classes.  To get started, pick locations and colleges that your are interested in learning more about and consider doing a pre-college summer program there, so that you can gain more exposure to what it would be like to live and go to school there as well as gain more academic qualifications for your college applications.  You can start a search at:

Fine and Performing Arts Summer Programs

  • ·       Cranbook-
  • ·       Interlochen-
  • ·       Artsabroad-
  • ·       New York Film Academy-
  • ·       Banson NYC Fashion Summer Camps-

Engineering, Science, Math, and Academic Programs

 Summer Job/Internship

Summer is a great time for students to earn money, pursue interests, and gain experience through paid or volunteer jobs, internships, and other activities.  Meaningful summer activities demonstrate commitment and responsibility (both admirable qualities). One of the best ways to find job opportunities is by asking people you know-networking.  Start with your family, friends, and teachers.  If you have something in mind, tell them.  They may have suggestions and know people to contact for more information.

High School Internship Companies

  • ·       Dynamy-
  • ·       Boston University Summer Research Internships-

Summer Community Service:

Another option is volunteer experience at a non-profit organization or other community service opportunities.

 Summer Experiences Abroad

Many Shining Mountain students have traveled or done service with various organizations during the summer.  There are many different companies but here are some below.

  • ·       People to People-
  • ·       Amigos de las Americas-
  • ·       Where There Be Dragons-
  • ·       Rustic Pathways-
  • ·       NOLS-
  • ·       Earth Watch-

Summer Leadership Experiences

There are numerous summer leadership opportunities.  These programs are a great way to   network, meet new people, visit a new area, build stronger leadership skills, explore career fields, and more.

The Future Conference, an event for Waldorf high school juniors and seniors, is organized by a team of Waldorf high school faculty, North American Youth Section members, and participant’s from last year’s conference. Over the course of three days, students, teachers, contributors, and organizers will embark on a journey together to better understand themes around money, power, and authority.

This conference is an opportunity for students to learn, question, and grow outside of the classroom setting, as well as a chance to meet students from other Waldorf schools. Some aims of The Future Conference are to build up the students’ abilities to connect their interests and skills to the wider needs of the world; inspire the students’ thinking and enthusiastic exploration of substantial themes; create a healthy balance of concentrated work and social time; provide opportunities for student initiative and leadership in the conference; and much more. After such a successful inaugural year of The Future Conference in 2013, this promises to be an exciting the 2nd annual event!

  • Furman Summer Scholars-
  • Boys State- Boy’s State aims to simulate and emulate Colorado State government.  It is a well-respected program amongst college admissions counselors. This is for rising seniors only.  The application process consists of nomination/verification of eligibility through your school.
  • Girls State- Girls State aims to stimulate and emulate Colorado State government.  It is a well-respected program amongst college admissions counselors.  This is for rising seniors only.  The application process consists of nomination/verification of eligibility through your school.
  • Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership (HOBY)-
  • UF Young Entrepreneurs for Leadership and Sustainability- University of Florida offers a five-week summer program to learn about entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship.

Research Opportunities

Colleges like to see students gain real life research experience at a college or research lab.  Research opportunities are typically connected to the science, math, technology, engineering, and medical area.  Many high school students reach out to academic departments at colleges to serve as research assistants for the summer.  Hospitals, military bases, and companies also hire interns to do research.  Below are some formally organized programs:

Web Searches

Formal Programs