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Why should students attend summer camps?

As summer approaches, it’s good to think of productive ways to fill your time, as keeping up with studies or at least reading over the summer is linked to better preparedness in the beginning of the following school year. One of these ways is to partake in a summer program, so regardless of your school year, you should try to sign up for something for the summer. Additionally, continued activities during the summer may look good on your college application. You can read our article on the importance of extracurricular activities for a better understanding of why this is.

What can I sign up for?

With the United States opening back up, in-person camps are likely to open again as well. However, for some families, flying over the summer is difficult to arrange or simply not worth it. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of online programs. Some of these also have physical locations and programs as well, so you can explore them at will. Attending online courses may seem like an incomparable experience to going to a physical camp, but online programs will still be great opportunities for students to stay engaged and demonstrate a commitment to meaningful mental stimulation. However, if you don’t mind traveling, there are still a number of programs that are still accepting applications. Do note that some of these programs are highly competitive.

Highly Selective:

1) Stanford National Forensic Institute

Location: Stanford University, California

For Ages: Grades 7-8 and 9-12

Length: 1-3 weeks

Cost: ~$750-$4,500

Application Deadline: May 2022

The Stanford National Forensic Institute offers multiple speech and debate courses that range from offering foundation building to developing skills in students who are already highly experienced in speech and debate. Speech and debate skills are also applicable even outside of debates and speech giving– they can help you gain confidence in the classroom and become more eloquent overall.

2) Interlochen Arts Camp

Location: Interlochen, Michigan

For Ages: Grades 3-12

Length: 1-6 weeks

Cost: $1,675 - 9,950 (1-6 weeks)

Application Deadline: January 15th Priority Deadline, then rolling

Interlochen Arts Camp is a highly competitive arts camp that provides classes in creative writing, dance, music, visual arts, theater, and more. You will spend weeks on a beautiful campus with restricted electronics usage in order to best harness your creativity and draw inspiration from your environment.

3) Otis Summer of Art

Location: Otis College, California

For Ages: 15+ years

Length: 5-day to 2-day weekly programs

Cost: $1,500-$3,850 (based on 2, 3 or 5 days per week)

Application Deadline: Rolling

Otis Summer of Art is an immersive program where high school students may enroll in 2, 3, or 5 day programs in their chosen field of art. Surrounded by like-minded creatives, you will have the opportunity to expand your horizons and participate in meaningful workshops that will help to improve your craft.

4) Iowa Young Writers’ Studio

Location: Online Courses (Asynchronous)

For Ages: Grade 9-12

Length: 6-week online

Cost: $575-$2,500+

Application Deadline: April 2022

The Iowa Young Writers’ Studio at the University of Iowa offers a summer residential program and an online program for its intensive creative writing program. The program allows you to directly interact with teachers and other young creative writers, enriching your writing skills and summer experiences.

Other selective programs:

1) Columbia Pre-College Programs

Location: New York, Online

For Ages: Grade 9-12

Length: 2-week programs

Cost: $575-$2,500+

Application Deadline: March 31, 2022

Columbia has a host of programs that students can do in the summer, whether it be on campus in the middle of New York City or through an online option. Columbia’s location in New York allows you to study in a prestigious college town-like atmosphere while also being a minute away from the subway, which allows you to explore the city.

2) Summer@Brown Online

Location: Online

For Ages: Grade 9-12

Length: 2-week programs

Cost: $575-$2,500+

Application Deadline: May 2022

Brown offers multiple 2-6 week asynchronous or hybrid online sessions for high school students seeking summer enrichment. The program’s flexibility in classroom learning types (asynchronous, mostly asynchronous, and blended) as well as a wide breadth of available subjects ensures that there is something meaningful for everyone regardless of interest and background.

3) Cornell University Summer Session Online

Location: Online

For Ages: Grade 10-12

Length: 3-6 weeks

Cost: $1,620 per credit

Application Deadline: Rolling

Cornell University offers classes all year long, and the summer would be a perfect chance for students who are usually busy during the school year to take advantage. With a wide range of university-level courses to choose from, students will gain the opportunity to work with Cornell faculty, study with college students, and prepare for the intensity and vigor that college will ask for you. You can take classes either synchronously (meaning that there are set class times and schedules) or asynchronously (meaning that you can complete assignments and listen to lectures in your own time).


For the weeks when you are not taking these courses or to fill in your other time, you can also engage in other projects, such as your own personal project, to demonstrate growth and passion on your applications. For example, does you want to make your own small business selling your own art, services, or time for an activity? Would you be willing to volunteer for an organization? Are you interested in teaching or tutoring younger students? Even if you want to start a YouTube channel, blog, or anything non-academic, it’s still possible to use the activity to showcase a your passions and interests, which admissions officers love to see.

Other things that high school students can do is to look for internships. Even though it may be difficult to find them (especially for younger students), try to think about any connections that you may have that could help. You can also check websites like LinkedIn and Indeed to search for any internships that would be open to younger age groups.


Still not sure what to do for your summer and how that factors into your application strategy? Dragon Prep has a consulting service that can help direct your pre-college activities so that you can apply with your favorite universities with the strongest application possible. Contact us at +852 9835 8011 (phone or whatsapp) or to find out more!

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