NEW! Build your college list in 8 minutes with our free college list generator!

NEW! Build your college list in 8 minutes with our free college list generator!

Merit Based Summer Opportunities

Dec 29, 2020

Though it might feel much too early to start thinking about summer, winter is a perfect time to start searching for an applying to summer programs, internships and jobs.

Having three months off of school affords the perfect opportunity for students to explore interests they may not have the opportunity to learn about in school. Some students take advantage of this time to get a summer job to save money for college, while others seek research or internship opportunities. Yet, between age restrictions, the need for connections, and the lack of an academic foundation for college-level research, opportunities for high school students can seem few and far between.

Merit based programs are ideal opportunities for high school students: many are highly competitive, will bolster student’s college applications when the time comes and demonstrate more academic merit than the pre-college programs other students may attend.

What is the difference between merit based summer programs and pre-college?

It’s important to differentiate between prestigious programs and pre-college programs. While merit based programs are competitive and may cost tuition, be tuition-free, or pay students a stipend, almost all pre-college programs charge tuition fees.

Pre-college programs are marketed as dreamy initial college experiences to add to a high school resume. Every year, thousands of students enroll in pre-college programs all over the world. However, come college application time, “prestigious” pre-college programs only tell admissions officers one thing: that a student’s family is wealthy.

That being said, there are many benefits to attending pre-college programs. Many colleges are offering virtual options this summer. Choosing a virtual option allows students to avoid the possibility that their summer plans be cancelled as a result of Covid-19. For those students who are able to attend pre-college programs in person, living on campus in a dorm, making new friends, and attending college level classes all provide a chance to experience college life. This can help them determine what sorts of colleges they may want to apply to when senior year rolls around.

However, we do recommend that students apply for merit based programs, which are offered across many fields, including science research, math and engineering courses, creative writing courses and summer internship placements. Most allow students the opportunity to explore a specialized area of academic interest they may not have the opportunity to explore in high school. Here are six merit based programs to think about applying to for the summer of 2021:

1. Yale Young Global Scholars

This year, three sessions of the Yale Young Global Scholars program will be held virtually in late June and July. Open to current high school sophomores and juniors, the program offers four courses: Innovations in Science & Technology, Literature, Philosophy and Culture, Politics, Law & Economics and Solving Global Challenges.

2. Launch X

This summer entrepreneurship program guides high school students through the process of launching a startup, from brainstorming ideas, conducting market research, and designing a product to launching their endeavor. Though the program has previously been held in MIT, University of Pennsylvania, University of Michigan and Northwestern University, the summer 2021 program will be held remotely. Students in grades 9-12 are eligible to apply.

3. New York Times Summer Academy

The New York Times Summer Academy offers high school students the opportunity to attend two week courses throughout the summer. Courses are offered in a variety of subjects, including ‘Inside the UN’ and ‘Writing About Youth Culture: Race, Identity & Social Behavior’ and are taught by New York Times journalists and other thought leaders. The Summer Academy will be offered online this coming summer.

4. Economics for Leaders

Economics for Leaders welcomes sophomores and juniors to study “how to employ economic analysis when considering difficult public policy choices.” At the moment, four sessions of Economics for Leaders will be offered in June and July. Additional sessions will be offered at universities across the country throughout June, July and August, though the programs may transition to a virtual format.

5. Summer Science Program

The Summer Science Program offers high school students the opportunity to partake in hands-on experimental research in astrophysics and biochemistry. Though SSP is typically a residential program offered at universities across the country, it was offered remotely during the summer of 2020, and SSP will decide whether they will be offering the 2021 program remotely in March. The program is open to juniors and exceptional sophomores who have completed the prerequisites.

6. Kenyon Young Writers Workshop

The Kenyon Young Writers workshop is an ideal program for students seeking to develop their writing and critical thinking skills. Three different classes will be offered this summer; Words and Wonders, Writing Across Worlds, and Observation Meets Imagination: Science and Nature Writing.

Best of luck on your merit based program applications! Remember to start early in order to give yourself time to write a strong application, and thus the best chance of attending the program of your choice!