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8 Summer Immersion Programs for High School Freshmen

Summer immersion programs offer a unique opportunity for high school freshmen to dive deep into subjects they're passionate about. Unlike regular summer pre-college programs, immersion programs are often more intensive and focused, providing hands-on experiences, mentorship, and a taste of college-level coursework. Engaging in these programs early can significantly enhance your college application by demonstrating a commitment to their interests and an ability to thrive in rigorous academic settings. Here are eight top-notch summer immersion programs for high school freshmen.


Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Cost: $2,800 - $3,000

Eligibility: Current 9th to 12th grade students who are in good academic standing and have no school suspensions 

Application Deadline: The application opens on November 1st. We accept students on a rolling basis until all programs are filled. 

Dates/Duration: Various dates in June and July; one-week sessions


The Wake Forest University Summer Immersion Program offers high school students a unique chance to explore potential career paths through one-week, intensive sessions. With a small cohort size designed for personalized learning, students receive individual attention and mentorship from industry professionals. This structure allows participants to delve deeply into their chosen field, whether it be medicine, business, law, or another area, through hands-on projects and field visits.


What sets the Wake Forest Summer Immersion Program apart is its emphasis on experiential learning and real-world application. Students engage in practical activities and projects that mirror professional work environments, providing a tangible understanding of their fields of interest. Additionally, the program's diverse range of tracks ensures that students can find a subject that aligns with their passions, making it a tailored and impactful experience for each participant.


Location: Oakland, California

Cost: $1,400

Eligibility: Any high school student (age 15 and up)

Application Deadline: Summer application deadline was March 8th, 2024

Dates/Duration: July 8th-12th, 2024 | July 15th-19th, 2024 | July 22nd- 26th, 2024 | July 29th- August 3rd, 2024


The MISA Health Summer Program offers high school freshmen and sophomores an engaging, virtual immersion into the health sciences and technology fields. With a cohort size of 20-30 students, the program ensures an intimate and interactive learning environment. Participants collaborate on innovative projects, participate in interactive workshops, and gain insights through guest lectures from professionals in the health industry.


One of the standout features of the MISA Health Summer Program is its comprehensive mentorship component, which connects students with experienced professionals for guidance and career advice. The curriculum is designed to simulate real-world scenarios, providing students with virtual lab experiences and practical knowledge that extends beyond traditional classroom learning. 


This program not only fosters a deeper understanding of health sciences but also prepares students for future academic and professional endeavors in the field.


Location: Stanford, California

Cost: $3,050

Eligibility: Students in grades 8–11 at the time of application submission.

Application Deadline: March 29, 2024

Dates/Duration: Various dates in June and July; three-week sessions


The Stanford University Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes provide high school students with the chance to experience university-level coursework in a stimulating and supportive environment. With a focus on a wide array of subjects, including writing, humanities, science, and math, the program caters to diverse academic interests. Each class is composed of approximately 50 students, ensuring ample opportunities for individualized attention and meaningful peer interactions.


What distinguishes the Stanford Pre-Collegiate Summer Institutes is their commitment to fostering critical thinking and creativity through intensive coursework and collaborative projects. Students engage deeply with their chosen subjects, benefiting from Stanford's esteemed faculty and resources. The immersive experience not only enhances academic skills but also prepares students for the rigors of college life, making it a transformative opportunity for young scholars aiming to excel in their future academic pursuits.


Location: Baltimore, MD

Cost: $3,099 to $6,819

Eligibility: Students grades 2–12 can apply

Application Deadline: After May 31, 2024, registration is available upon request pending eligibility and seat availability.

Dates/Duration: June 23-July 12 | July 14-August 2


The Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Summer Programs offer advanced academic experiences for gifted students in grades 2-12, with courses available across the United States and internationally. Designed for those who qualify through CTY's rigorous testing, the program provides an intellectually stimulating environment where students can explore subjects such as computer science, writing, and engineering. 


The small class sizes vary by location and course, allowing for personalized instruction and collaborative learning.


CTY Summer Programs emphasizes academic excellence and intellectual growth. Students engage in challenging coursework that encourages deep exploration and critical thinking. The program also fosters a sense of community among like-minded peers, creating a supportive atmosphere for academic and personal development. Through hands-on projects and interactive learning experiences, CTY prepares students for future academic challenges and inspires a lifelong passion for learning.


Location: Providence, RI

Cost: $3,406

Eligibility: Students completing grades 9 to 12, ages 14 to 18

Application Deadline: Application opened Wednesday, January 17, 2024, and decisions were made on a rolling basis

Dates/Duration: Sunday, June 23 to Friday, July 26, 2024


Brown University Pre-College Programs offer high school students an enriching academic experience on its picturesque Providence, Rhode Island campus. With a variety of courses across multiple disciplines, including humanities, sciences, and social sciences, students can delve deeply into subjects that interest them. Although the program accepts 6,300 students across 75 countries and all 50 states, class sizes tend to be small, so you are bound to receive personalized attention from experienced instructors.


One of the highlights of Brown's Pre-College Programs is the immersive and project-based learning approach. Students participate in lectures, workshops, and hands-on projects that mimic the rigors of college-level coursework. This experience not only bolsters academic skills but also provides a realistic preview of college life.


By engaging in collaborative activities and intellectual discussions, students build critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, making the program a transformative step toward their future educational journeys.


Location: Duke University East Campus 

Cost: $2,150 for 1-week program | $4,700 for 2-week program, financial aid available

Eligibility: Current high school students

Application Deadline: April 1, 2024

Dates/Duration: June 30-July 5, July 21-26 | June 16-28, July 7-19


The Duke University Summer Session for High School Students offers an immersive educational experience on its vibrant Durham, North Carolina campus. Catering to students in grades 9-12, the program provides a diverse selection of courses in STEM, humanities, and social sciences. Class sizes are generally small in size, so you can receive a lot of 1:1 attention and meeting time with your peers and instructors. 


Duke Summer Session apart has a comprehensive approach to college preparation. Beyond rigorous academic coursework, students engage in hands-on projects, collaborative learning experiences, and college readiness workshops. The program also includes extracurricular activities, providing a well-rounded experience that blends academics with social and cultural enrichment. By living on campus, students get a true taste of college life, building independence and forging lasting connections with their peers.


Location: UChicago campus | Virtual

Cost: $6,350 - $14,000, need-based aid available

Eligibility: Current high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors; at least 14 years old

Application Deadline: Tues, Mar 5, rolling applications received during Apr 15 – May 15

Dates/Duration: Residential July 29 – August 1 | Remote July 15 - July 26


The University of Chicago Pre-College Connect program offers high school students an exceptional opportunity to engage with UChicago’s rigorous academic environment through a virtual platform. Designed for students in grades 9-12, the program provides courses in a wide range of subjects, such as “Evolution in Thought, Art, and Culture” and “Foundations of Psychological Research”. 


Throughout Pre-College Connect, students participate in thought-provoking discussions, hands-on projects, and virtual seminars that mirror the intensity and intellectual rigor of a University of Chicago education. The program also includes sessions on college readiness, helping students develop the skills and confidence needed for future academic success. 


This virtual experience not only enhances academic knowledge but also connects students with peers and mentors from around the world, creating a diverse and supportive learning community.


Location: UC Berkeley campus

Cost: Tuition varies by course ($710–$1190). Need-based financial aid available before the regular application deadline. 

Eligibility: Current 7–11 graders

Application Deadline: March 18, 2024. Extended deadline is May 24, 2024.

Dates/Duration: June 17, 2024 - July 26, 2024


The University of California, Berkeley's Academic Talent Development Program’s Secondary Division offers high-achieving high school students the chance to engage in advanced, college-level coursework during the summer. Held on the UC Berkeley campus, the program provides a stimulating academic environment where students can explore a variety of subjects, from science and technology to humanities and social sciences. 


Classes generally have a cap of 20 to 24 students. The low teacher-to-student ratio, as well as the academic and administrative staff support, ensure instruction of the highest quality.


A great part about the ATDP Secondary Division is its commitment to fostering intellectual growth and academic excellence. Students participate in rigorous courses taught by experienced instructors, designed to challenge their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The program also emphasizes a collaborative learning atmosphere, encouraging students to work together on projects and share their insights. Moreover, if you want to return to the program, returning students have greater priority in future applications to ATDP.


Our Thoughts

Participating in a summer immersion program can be a transformative experience for high school freshmen. These programs provide not only academic enrichment but also personal growth, college preparation, and a deeper understanding of potential career paths. Early exposure to intensive coursework and hands-on projects can give students a significant edge in their college applications and future academic pursuits. Explore these programs and find the one that aligns best with your interests and goals.



One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing independent research, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students. Last year, we had 150 students on full need-based financial aid!


Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation. 


Image Source: Wake Forest University logo

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