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Georgia Tech's Pre-College Program - Is it Worth It?

As a high school student passionate about practical, hands-on subjects like architecture and design, it is important to expose yourself to industry-standard practices and cutting edge tools and softwares. An excellent way to do this, and also build your skill set and knowledge base, is via pre-college programs in architecture and design. 

Today’s blog post covers one such option, Georgia Tech's pre-college programs, and whether this program is a potential game-changer for aspiring students like yourself.

What are Georgia Tech’s pre-college programs all about?

Georgia Tech's Pre-College Programs are a set of two-week residential programs in architecture, design, construction science, and music technology way before you step into college. Tailored for high schoolers eager for an experience that blends theoretical knowledge with hands-on experience, these programs are a deep dive into the theory, practice, modern methodologies and future careers in these fields.

The College of Design at Georgia Tech has been teaching architecture since 1908 and has a strong record of innovation, creativity, and excellence. Known for its pioneering research and integration of design principles with cutting-edge technology, the college prepares students for the future challenges of the design world.

How are the programs structured?

Georgia Tech hosts the programs in two sessions:

  • Session 1: June 16, 2024 - June 28, 2024

  • Session 2: July 7, 2024 - July 19, 2024

Each program at Georgia Tech's College of Design has a distinctly immersive structure. Here’s a closer look at what each has on offer:

  1. Architecture: Ever wondered how buildings can affect our mood and behavior? This program provides an intensive overview of architectural design, pushing you to think creatively and solve real-world problems. You'll be thrown into a mix of studio work, engaging field trips, and thought-provoking critiques, ending with a project that could be the centerpiece of your portfolio. You'll explore the history of architecture, study different architectural styles, and understand the environmental impact of buildings. The program emphasizes sustainability and innovative design solutions to real-world challenges. Here’s what you can expect:

  • Studio Sessions: Where you'll sketch, model, and design architectural projects.

  • Technology Integration: Learn how software like CAD and 3D modeling tools bring designs to life.

  • Field Trips: Visit iconic buildings and architectural firms to see theory in action.

  • Final Project: A design challenge that allows you to apply what you've learned in a practical, portfolio-worthy piece.

2. Construction Science and Management: If you're fascinated by how designs leap off the page and into reality, this course is for you. It covers everything from project management and sustainable building techniques to the latest industry tech. You'll get a 360-degree view of the construction process, working on projects that mirror real-life challenges and solutions. This course goes behind the scenes of how buildings and structures come to life. The focus is on sustainable building practices, innovative materials, and the latest construction technologies. Here’s what you'll experience:

  • Project Management: Understand the lifecycle of a construction project, including budgeting, scheduling, and team coordination.

  • Hands-On Workshops: Get involved in simulated construction projects using cutting-edge technology.

  • Site Visits: See active construction sites to understand the complexities and challenges of building in the real world.

  • Collaborative Projects: Work in teams to plan and execute a construction project from start to finish.

3. Industrial Design: For those of you drawn to creating products that marry form and function, this program is for you. Industrial Design is all about creating products that are as functional as they are aesthetically pleasing. This program covers the entire design process, from researching user needs to prototyping and testing designs. Expect workshops, design challenges, and the chance to create something that might just change the world. You'll learn about ergonomics, material sciences, and the product life cycle. Program highlights include:

  • Design Studios: Engage in hands-on design challenges that encourage creative thinking and problem-solving.

  • Technology Workshops: Get to grips with 3D printing, CAD software, and other tools that bring product designs to life.

  • Market Analysis: Learn how to research market needs and design products that meet those needs.

  • Final Design Project: Develop a product from concept to prototype, ready to be showcased in your portfolio.

4. Music Technology: For those at the intersection of music and technology, this program offers an immersive exploration into sound design, music production, and audio engineering. Whether you're an aspiring musician or a tech whiz, this program lets you explore the art of sound design, digital music production, and audio engineering. By the end, you'll collaborate on a project that showcases your skills in a whole new light. You'll delve into the science of sound, study digital music composition, and learn about the technology behind recording and producing music. Expect to dive into:

  • Sound Labs: Experiment with synthesizers, digital audio workstations (DAW), and other music tech gear.

  • Collaborative Compositions: Work with fellow students to create and record original music pieces.

  • Industry Insights: Learn from music professionals about careers in music production, sound design, and audio engineering.

  • Capstone Project: Produce a professional-quality music track or sound design project that highlights your skills and creativity.

Who is eligible and how do you apply?

All you need to be eligible for Georgia Tech’s pre-college programs is to be a rising junior or senior in high school. Naturally, since the programs are residential, you need to be able to stay on campus for their entire duration.

The application requires you to provide:

Note that the admissions are conducted on a rolling basis, so the sooner you apply the better for you.

How much do these programs cost?

Georgia Tech charges a flat tuition of $2,300 regardless of which program you choose to attend, along with a deposit of $250. Program fee includes:

  • Room & Board 

  • Meals

  • All Supplies and Materials

  • Activities

There are only two scholarships available per session.

Are Georgia Tech’s pre-college programs prestigious?

While Georgia Tech’s pre-college programs are open to all applicants, and don’t have any academic cutoff criteria, that does not take away from their value. The comprehensive curriculum and extensive real world exposure they offer can add credibility to your profile when applying for higher studies in these fields. You also get a head start in creating your own portfolio of designs / projects / music, which is also important. Overall, while we would not rate these programs as prestigious on their own, they can be valuable additions to strengthening your existing profile.

Considering pros and cons


  1. Exposure to industry standards: The biggest draw of Georgia Tech’s pre-college programs is that they make a serious effort to familiarize you with cutting edge tools and techniques in your chosen field and bring you up to speed on how real work is done in these professions.

  2. The programs are a great head-start for your portfolio: You will get the opportunity to work on real, impactful projects that you can then add to your portfolio to enhance your future college applications. In combination with the previous point, using advanced software and the latest industry benchmarked techniques, you can significantly strengthen your portfolio.

  3. Affordable tuition: At $2,300 the programs are affordable while also providing good value for the money spent.


  1. Limited financial aid: While the tuition is affordable, unfortunately there are only two scholarships available per session, which makes it difficult to attend for those facing financial hurdles.

  2. Short duration: At only two weeks, even with an intensive schedule there is only so much learning you’ll be able to extract from the courses.

Our review: is it worth it?

For those of you aiming for a future in design, architecture, or music technology, Georgia Tech's Pre-College Programs offer promising academic enrichment and a chance to stand out in your college applications. If you're ready to challenge yourself, dive deep into your field of interest, and set yourself apart from the competition, these programs could be just what you're looking for. 

Additionally, you could consider internships, research programs, or competitive experiences in architecture to further boost your profile!

One other option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re interested in pursuing research in fields like architecture or design, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I 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!

Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.

Image Source: Georgia Tech logo


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