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Pre-College Programs for High School Students Offer Taste of College Life

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High school and college can seem like two different worlds, even if you think you’re prepared. Pre-college summer programs are a great way for high school students to take fun yet informative classes and experience a taste of college life.

Pre-college programs are offered at schools across the country, from prestigious Ivy League universities to local community colleges. Some of the programs are residential—meaning that the students stay in a residence hall on campus—while others are commuting programs in which students travel to campus for classes and go home each evening. They can range anywhere from a week to over a month and some even offer college credit.

Benefits of Pre-College Summer Programs

Pre-college programs are academically enriching because high school students get to take classes with university-level professors and instructors, but the social and emotional advantages are just as beneficial. Spending time on a college campus when you’re still in high school can help you feel more comfortable when it’s time to start college for real, even if your summer program is at a different school.

If taking classes in the summer doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, realize that pre-college programs aren’t the same thing as “regular” school. As Peterson’s explains, “pre-college summer programs for high school students are really about the experience, the act of participating in a college-like environment, even for a short time.”

Programs away from your home will give you the opportunity to experience dorm life, from learning to deal with a roommate to doing your own laundry. You’ll also have the ability to participate in off-campus trips to local tourist destinations like museums, parks, beaches, malls, theme parks and more. Some programs offer workshops and internships in potential careers, a great way to see if something interests you. You will also make new friends you probably wouldn’t have met otherwise.

A pre-college summer program will also add pizzazz to your college applications. You won’t be guaranteed admission to your dream school, but you will stand out from other applicants who spent their summer lounging around the house rather than taking initiative to experience college life a bit early.

Sampling of Pre-College Programs

Requirements and pricing vary from program to program. Once you find a summer program that interests you, be sure to get information about the application process and all costs involved.

Here is just a small sampling of pre-college programs that high school students enjoy attending:

Penn State: Penn State offers summer camps as well as year-round programs in sports, arts, sciences, adventure, nature, leadership and career exploration for qualified high school and younger students. Get more information here.

Brown: Brown University’s Pre-College Summer@Brown offers talented high school students from around the world a chance to prepare for college success on an Ivy League campus. Get more information here.

Johns Hopkins University: Pre-college students can take undergraduate classes for credit or theme-based courses that offer exposure to a variety of different perspectives while getting a taste of college life at Johns Hopkins. Get more information here.

Boston University: Boston University offers 21 exciting and challenging pre-college and youth summer programs that cover a wide range of interests and disciplines. Get more information here.

UCLA: The Early Academic Outreach Program at UCLA offers multiple summer programs and camps for pre-college students. Get more information here.

If you would like to participate in a college summer program in your area, your high school guidance counselor and local college admissions offices should be able to assist you. Please note that the above-mentioned programs are not endorsed by nor affiliated with StateUniversity.com


Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.

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