Summer Programs!

6:38 PM

Editor in Chief, Stephanie Castaneda Perez, with Edward Snowden at the ACLU Summer Advocacy Program
Calling all juniors, sophomores, and freshmen! Summer’s (almost) coming up which means that it’s the perfect time to apply to summer programs! 

By academics editor, Diana Meza

Speaking as a first-generation person of color (POC), I know that it can sometimes be confusing to know what exactly colleges will be looking for or which opportunities you should take advantage of, and which won’t matter so much in the long run. But having both participated in a summer internship and applied to many colleges, I can tell you that participating in summer programs is one of the greatest decisions you can make. If you’ve already started to consider different options, that’s great, but if you’re still not sure about whether or not summer programs are worth it, here’s a little of what makes them so awesome: 

  1. You can become friends with people who have similar interests as you and start building up your network. Mentors and staff at summer programs also tend to be very friendly and engaging, and they can serve as great contacts even after the program. (They can write you a recommendation for college!)
  2. You can further your interests and experience different fields in action. Whether you have a dream career or still don’t know what you’re going to major in, you can gain a better sense of what you like by trying out different things.
  3. Many colleges, especially private schools, ask “How did you spend your summer before senior year?” as part of their application. “Going on a family vacation” or “hanging out with friends” are not answers that will ‘wow’ them. Even if your school doesn’t ask that specific question, the experiences you gain at summer programs can be used to answer many college prompts such as the UC App questions that ask “How have you taken advantage of an opportunity?” or “How have you furthered an academic interest?” 
  4. While you do have to give up some of your summer if you participate in a program, it’s not as bad as you’d imagine. Most summer programming occurs on weekdays, leaving evenings and weekends free, and overnight camps are not bad either because they’re basically extended sleepovers. For the most part, program managers understand that giving up your summer is not easy, and they try their best to create engaging and enjoyable curriculums. 

And the best part is that there are thousands of programs open to all ages, so there’s definitely something for everyone. Unfortunately, not all programs do a great job of advertising and it can be difficult to find the one that fits you. Here are some ways you can refine your search: 

  • Internships: These can be paid or unpaid positions in an actual company. You’ll usually work under a mentor for a few weeks, and depending on the program, you may also receive other mentorship services such as college counseling, professionalism workshops, SAT prep, and more. Internships occasionally also lead to paid positions throughout the school year.
  • Volunteering: Volunteering opportunities are the most abundant and often have the most flexible hours. Volunteers don’t get paid and often don’t experience structured curriculums.
  • College programs: Almost every college offers summer programs for high schoolers in which you can dorm on campus and take actual courses. These programs are great ways for you to experience actual college life while learning more about fields that interest you. While many of these programs tend to be expensive, most schools offer scholarships or have minority-focused programs that are free. 
  • Specialized camps/programs: These are programs are also very abundant and cover all activities imaginable (from music to entrepreneurship to athletics to government). These programs usually consist of a few days/weeks of intensive programming. 

I’ve compiled many great summer programs on this spreadsheet for you to begin your search! 

I’ll be updating the spreadsheet weekly, so be on the lookout. (If you know of a cool summer program, let me know and I’ll add it!) And if you want to learn more about a program that’s listed, let me know and I can connect you to someone who participated in it! 


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