IvyWise Resources

Summer Activities for Grades K-12

Students participate in a coding and gaming camp, their chosen summer activities

By Cheryl, IvyWise WiseStart™ Counselor

It’s never too early to look into summer programs for your child. Summer programs are a great opportunity to delve into a subject more deeply, participate in sports activities, and prepare for standardized tests. Many summer programs offer subjects and opportunities you can’t find in most schools.

Summer Activities: Things to Consider

There are three main things to consider when planning summer activities for K-12 students:

  1. What your student might be interested in learning and doing at the summer program
  2. Whether you would prefer a day, online, or overnight program
  3. How long the program will be

There are solely academic programs, and there are also programs that offer a wide variety of activities: academics, visual and performing arts, athletics, and more. Some programs require standardized tests, but the majority do not.

The Benefits of Summer Activities

Colleges want to see students exploring their personal and academic interests outside of the classroom. In fact, some colleges even ask students to write in college applications about how they spent their summers. Summer programs can go a long way in rounding out students’ academic experiences – they will allow your child to delve deeper into subjects that are important to them. This will also give them more to expand on when writing essays and speaking in school interviews.

Summer Activities for Middle and High School Students

See below for a sample of the many quality summer programs available to middle and high school students. This is a non-exhaustive list of suggestions for you to explore further and discuss with your child.

Andover Summer Programs
Grades: 7-12
Phillips Academy offers summer academic enrichment programs designed to prepare students for the rigorous curricula of the nation’s top high schools and colleges. Programs are open to students across the globe, and options include five weeks on campus, five weeks virtually, and two weeks on campus for students who live within commuting distance of Andover, Massachusetts.

Boston University Summer Program
Grades: Elementary through rising seniors
Boston University offers a wide range of summer programs covering a variety of topics, from enriched academics to athletics and the arts. The pre-college and youth summer programs allow middle and high school students to gain valuable academic experience, while Camp Terrier accepts kids as young as those entering kindergarten and offers a variety of options like Sports & Recreation, Dance Arts, and Outdoor Adventures.

Grades: 7-12
Broadreach provides summer adventures for teens specializing in scuba diving, sailing, marine biology, veterinary medicine, or wildlife biology. These programs create unique opportunities for teens to actively learn, explore, and build skills while becoming global citizens and possibly even earning college credit.

Carnegie Mellon University – Pre-College Programs
Grades: 11 & 12
The summer Pre-College Programs at Carnegie Mellon allow students to preview what undergrad life is like. Students can learn about video game development at The National High School Game Academy, study computational biology, or earn real CMU college credits in the summer session, all while also experiencing dorm and campus life.

Choate Rosemary Hall Summer Programs
Grades: 6-12
Choate Summer Programs provide middle and high school students with an immersive learning experience with boarding and day options. Tweens and teens can choose from over 100 courses, so there are plenty of opportunities to dive deeper into their interests, whatever they may be. Test prep for the SAT or SSAT can also be added.

Duke Pre-College Programs
Grades: 6-11
Students interested in Duke Pre-College Programs can choose from various elevated academic courses to experience on a leading university campus. Duke offers middle and high school courses in engineering, humanities, math, science, social sciences, and technology.

Grades: 4-12
Explo was originally founded as a start-up at MIT and focused on “Peers. Passions. Projects. Play.” in their programs. They offer campus-based programs for three different age groups: grades 4-7 at Regis College in Massachusetts, grades 8 and 9 at Sarah Lawrence in New York, and grades 10-12 at Wellesley in Massachusetts. Activities and courses range from athletics to design to STEM.

Global Leadership Adventures
Ages: 14-18
GLA seeks to provide life-changing travel that cultivates a global perspective and an open mind in their student travelers. They offer trips to locations all over the world that incorporate community service, immersive service-learning, and adventure. If a far-flung trip is not feasible for your student, they also offer virtual options.

iDTech Camps
Ages: 7-19
iDTech hosts gamified learning programs on college campuses across the country and even internationally. They hire faculty from top universities to teach week-long courses on coding, game development, robotics, and design. Popular courses include Roblox Entrepreneur: Lua Coding and Game Scripts, Advanced Minecraft Modding with Java, and Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

Independent Lake Camp
Ages: 6-17
ILC is a sleep-away summer camp dedicated to a diverse community, creativity, and individualized programming. Campers can choose from a wide variety of activities during their two- to eight-week stay. Activities range from what you might expect from a summer camp — kayaking, tennis, archery — to some that might surprise you such as, Dungeons & Dragons, moviemaking, and circus unicycle.

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth
Grades: 2-12
The Center for Talented Youth, a nonprofit academic center of Johns Hopkins University, provides transformational educational experiences to advanced students. On-campus summer opportunities are offered in Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and California for students to immerse themselves in advanced coursework and hands-on projects for three weeks. Standardized test scores are required.

Northfield Mount Hermon Summer
Grades: 7-12
NMH’s Summer Session gives students a three- or five-week program to explore their academic curiosity and deepen their passion for learning. They offer a Rising Scholars program for rising seventh to ninth graders, a College Prep program for rising 10th to 12th graders and an English for Speakers of Other Languages program open to any rising seventh to 12th grade students. The average student-to-teacher ratio is 4:1, and individual advising is offered.

Summer Discovery
Grades: 6-12
Summer Discovery offers pre-college programs for students ages 15-18, middle school programs for students ages 12-14, and a highly focused Career Accelerator for students entering grades 9-12. Participants of all ages will enjoy hands-on learning, expert instruction, and campus life. Since SD has partnered with 16 different campuses across the country and allows for two campuses per summer, older students may use this as an opportunity to take a closer look at one or more schools on their college list.

Yale Summer Session
Grades: Rising seniors and first-year college students
Yale has multiple robust summer programs available for pre-college students. Rising seniors and recent graduates can take Yale courses for college credit (both in-person and virtually), learn about acting or directing from Yale School of Drama faculty, or participate in a writing workshop with leading authors and poets.

Remember to check the requirements for each program, be mindful of their deadlines, and, if needed, inquire about financial aid opportunities. Ultimately, summer programs can be windows into exciting new opportunities and experiences, both academic and extracurricular.

If summer is fast approaching and you still don’t have any plans, IvyWise can help you plan the best school break possible for your child. Whether you need help identifying the best activities or researching program options, our experts are here for you. Contact us today to see how we can get your student’s summer back on track.

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