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UMass Amherst Summer Programs You Should Check Out as a High Schooler

As a high school student, you might have started planning your pre-college education – and summer programs hosted by esteemed colleges and universities can open doors to a plethora of exciting possibilities. These programs are not just avenues to explore academic interests but can also be one of the experiences that offer a sneak peek into life as a college student. From challenging coursework under the guidance of renowned faculty to diving into subjects that fuel your curiosity, summer courses can provide valuable insights into potential majors.


Choosing the ideal pre-college program can feel akin to navigating a maze. With so many options available to students like you, choosing the right program can be tricky. In this article, we're focusing on the practical offerings at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


These programs provide a taste of real college classes, connecting you with professors and peers who share your interests. It's a straightforward guide to help you make an informed decision about your summer learning journey.



What Are Some Pre-college Offerings at UMass Amherst?

A fairly well-established public university, UMass Amherst offers a range of pre-college programs that will allow you to pursue your academic and extracurricular goals. Before you get to applying, it’s important to know which options will meet your needs best — depending on the course design, length, structure and costs.


Below, we’ve covered in detail the summer opportunities available at UMass Amherst for high schoolers.


The programs offered can be divided into three broad categories – academic programs, research programs, and college prep workshops.


UMass Amherst’s Summer Pre-College Academic Programs cover a wide range of 25+ subjects, offered with residential, commuter, and online options.


Next up, we have the Summer Pre-College Research Intensives which are six-week immersive lab experiences, where you will work alongside UMass Amherst research faculty. There are several available lab opportunities that you can pick from, covering ecology, environment studies, chemistry, physics, psychology, and more. This is a residential program.


Lastly, we have the College Prep Workshops. These aren’t summer-specific programs, but rather year-round workshops with online and residential options. These workshops will help you build essential skills to navigate the college admissions process.


The university also conducts a College Application Bootcamp – a week-long, intensive, residential college prep course that is purely dedicated to guiding students with their college applications.


Now, UMass Amherst offers a Pre-College Bundle, which basically combines the academic program and one college prep workshop. It also gives students the chance to participate in co-curricular that take them beyond the classroom.


Before we go into the details of these programs, let’s quickly go over the things you need to consider before deciding on a pre-college summer program.



How Do You Pick the Right Summer Program?

Planning your summer involves setting clear goals to make the most of your time.


It’s important you consider whether you want to earn college credit and whether you want to take courses that align with what you plan to pursue in the future. If you have specific interests, focusing on courses can deepen your knowledge and potentially give you a step-up in your future studies.


If you're curious about college life, you might want to consider doing a residential program that will give you a glimpse of life on campus.


If you’re not sure about what you want to study in college, exploring different subjects over the summer can help!


It’s also important to figure out how much of your summer you want to commit. A single course or shorter programs will suit you if you have a busy summer planned, but longer ones can allow for a more in-depth exploration of your chosen subjects.


Additionally, before you decide, take financial factors into consideration. A lot of programs have tuition fees, and scholarships can be competitive. Discuss your options with your guardians and counselors before you choose. Once you have a fairly clear idea of your goals over the summer, you can take a look at the program breakdowns for the pre-college summer programs available at UMass Amherst.


1. Pre-College Residential (& Commuter) Program

UMass Amherst’s Summer Pre-College Residential Programs offer a comprehensive pre-college experience – from in-depth academics to living in a college dorm, from interacting with faculty and peers to sharing meals at the dining commons. And you’ll earn college credit while you’re at it!


This program offers a wide range of subjects you can choose from, covering art, business, and STEM subjects. Some of the courses offered in the program include business ethics, applications of Python, anthropology, engineering, entrepreneurship, design, and veterinary medicine. These programs will be taught by university faculty. Most of the courses offered are worth 2 credits each.


During the program, you'll dive into academics while living in dorms at the Amherst, MA campus. The university has live-in program assistants who are specially trained to help you get used to a new environment. In the evenings and over the weekends, there are activities and events that encourage you to connect with your peers. Most of the courses in this program are also offered with the commuter option.


The Summer Pre-College Programs at Mount Ida Campus located in Newton, MA offer most of the courses that are part of the Amherst campus, along with a few additional ones such as building and construction technology. This option is ideal for students based in the Greater Boston area. This program also has both residential and commuter options.


Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors can apply for this program.


Fees: The fees for most of the courses in this program are $1,079 to $4,822. The fees also differ based on whether you’re choosing to attend as a resident or commuter. Take a look at the detailed fees information.

The university does offer a number of scholarship and funding opportunities that you can consider.


Dates: The dates vary for each course. Most of the courses that are part of this program are 2-week long and are conducted between the third week of July and mid-August.


Here's a glimpse into the life of a pre-college student at UMass Amherst.


2. Pre-college Online Program

The UMass Amherst Summer Pre-College Online Programs cover most of the same topics as the residential and commuter options. This option is perfect for students who can’t attend the program in person, or don’t have the time to commit to an in-person program, but are seeking college-level pre-college education.


This program gives you a solid preview of the experience as a student at the university, focusing on academics, while giving you the chance to be part of a global learning community of high school students.


The courses, which include subjects such as business, Python programming, design, along with several courses also part of the residential and commuter options, will be taught by university faculty. The classes are conducted virtually via live meetings, and they will include offline assignments and projects. Classes meet 3-5 times a week primarily using Zoom but may use other platforms. Each course in this program offers 2 credits.


Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors can apply for this program.


Fees: $1,079

The university does offer a number of scholarship and funding opportunities that you can consider.


Dates: The dates vary for each course. Most of the courses that are part of this program are 2-week long and are conducted between the third week of July and mid-August.


3. Research Intensives

For students interested in conducting research before they start college, this program is an ideal option. UMass Amherst’s Research Intensives program is a six-week immersive research program that allows motivated students to work alongside distinguished faculty, graduate and undergraduate students in a professional laboratory setting. This program can be attended as a resident or a commuter. Residential students in this program will live in campus dorms for the duration.


Research lab placements in this program include fields such as biology, biochemistry, environmental conservation, psychology, and food science. Take a look at the available opportunities here. While applying for this program, make sure you mention your top three lab choices and why you’re interested in those particular options.


Typically, applications for the lab choices stay open till the seats have been filled.


Eligibility: Rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors can apply for this program. Those applying should have grades of B or above in mathematics and science courses.


Fees: $11,130 (Residential) | $6,752 (Commuter)

The university does offer a number of scholarship and funding opportunities that you can consider.


Dates: 6 weeks, typically from the end of June to mid-August.


4. College Prep Workshops

College Prep Workshops at UMass Amherst are an opportunity for high school students to build essential skills and tools for college preparedness – practical skills and knowledge to confidently navigate the college application process. These are conducted year-round, so students can choose to take them along with their summer programs, or on their own.


There are two workshops offered under this program. The SAT & ACT Test Prep teaches you strategies from bestselling test-prep author Brian Leaf. The College Application Essay Writing Workshop is where you can learn how to write an impactful, true-to-life personal essay using techniques from UMass Amherst's award-winning Writing Program.


The workshop instructors will provide you with fresh, up-to-date advice that can help you succeed in the ever-evolving college admissions landscape. Students can expect a true workshop-style format, with plenty of opportunities to develop and practice new skills and get individual feedback on each topic.


The registrations for the workshops are typically open till 7-10 days before the workshop begins.


Eligibility: These workshops are open to students in grades 9-12.


Fees: $400


Dates: The workshops are conducted in three sessions, Fall, Spring, and Summer. Exact dates vary. Upcoming session: October 21, 2023 - November 11, 2023 (SAT & ACT Test Prep) October 22, 2023 - November 12, 2023 (College Application Essay Writing Workshop)


Our Review - Should You Apply?

If you're keen on making the most of your summer by learning new skills and enhancing your knowledge, you’d probably be interested in most of the programs we just went through. The academic programs can be highly rewarding – and what’s great is that they can be attended as a resident, commuter, or even virtually!


If you’re fairly certain about the subject or subjects you want to pursue further, earning college credit pre-college is a smart move. It not only gives you a head start but also provides solid, in-depth insight into your chosen field.

As a public university, UMass Amherst offers some strong pre-college education options, which when coupled with the college prep workshops, can help you build a solid foundation for your future academics. Not to mention its intensive research opportunities, where you can conduct university-level research in your chosen field while working with professionals!


Combined with the decent number of scholarships (and funding opportunities!) offered, all in all, doing a pre-college program at UMass Amherst would be a sensible way to get started on your college journey.



One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program 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.

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: UMass Amherst seal

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