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Best Pre-College Summer Programs

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Best Pre-College Summer Programs. It’s a significant change to college. New possibilities, challenges, and friends are all part of it. While it’s undoubtedly lovely to picture freedom from your parents and the framework of high school, that independence might take a long to get used to. Also, your lessons are more challenging and your decisions have a greater impact. Also, it’s likely that you’ll have to develop new league of friends from scratch.

Before spending four or more years away from home, a pre-college summer programme is a fantastic opportunity to get a taste of college life. It’s a practise run for one of the most important choices you’ll ever make. A pre-college programme provides you a taste of true college-level coursework, living independently, and meeting new friends—even if you end up attending a different institution later. (I’m not promising that you’ll make a lifelong friend here, but I don’t know. Maybe. Very likely not. Yet, it will serve as useful practise for the future.)

Beyond the social advantages, a pre-college programme can provide you with a significant intellectual edge. Up to 50% of college students begin their studies without knowing what they want to major in, depending on who you ask. Also, up to 75% of students change their degrees before graduating. You may have to spend a lot more time and money if you haven’t declared your major. You may go one step closer to making this crucial career-defining decision by enrolling in a pre-college summer programme.

And that indicates that you’re one step closer to having a response to disturbing questions like “What are you doing after high school?” What are you studying, too? You get a lot better idea of what you might want to study when it’s time to apply to schools and register for classes if you take a variety of college courses before you actually enrol in them. And it won’t probably cost you as much as a term or semester of education.

How to choose a pre-college summer program

There are several summer pre-college programmes available. Some classes allow anybody to attend, while others have a more selective admissions procedure. Pre-college programmes might run anywhere from one to eight weeks, with distinct assortments of classes and activities, even though cost is undoubtedly an issue you should take into account.

Let’s simplify this. Using the average rankings from four different lists—,,, and—we’ve whittled it down to the best 10 pre-college summer programmes. The programmes on this list genuinely are the finest of the best.

Here are some highlights before we begin:

Most affordable pre-college summer program: Finding out if going to college is the best choice for you doesn’t have to cost a fortune. The majority of these courses cost at least a couple of thousand dollars, however University of Michigan, which ranks sixth on our list, offers a number of free pre-college courses.

Longest pre-college summer program: You may virtually complete a quarter of college before you even graduate from high school with the appropriate curriculum. The longest programmes on this list are those at Stanford University and Northwestern University (which both ranked third and fifth respectively on our list), both of which provide eight-week curricula.

Shortest pre-college summer program: Check out a one-week programme if you want a taste of college life without having to spend your whole summer in school. These succinct summer programmes are provided by both University of Michigan (ranked sixth) and Brown University (ranked second).

Most classes offered: The ability to choose is always a plus. Every pre-college course you take ought to offer you a sense of what it’s like to go to college, but you may benefit greatly from the experience if you can take a few classes in areas of study that you’re truly enthusiastic about. You will undoubtedly discover something of interest at Brown University (ranked second). There are more than 330 classes available.

The best 10 are up next!

1. Harvard Pre-College Program

One of the most well-known Ivy League institutions being at the top of our list shouldn’t come as a surprise to you. Harvard is known for turning out some of the world’s most successful college graduates, so it seems sense that they would also be excellent at preparing high school kids for the demands of academic life. Although you are encouraged to take part in as many events as you can, you are only obligated to do so in two of the following categories:

  • Academic exploration
  • College readiness
  • Social events
  • Trips and activities

Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Length: two weeks

Cost: about $5,000

Eligibility: Sophomores and juniors; competitive application process

Number of classes: 100+

2. Brown University Pre-College Programs

The number of courses available at Brown’s pre-college programme will astound you if you thought Harvard’s summer programme had a wide range of alternatives. There are 25 different classifications, therefore I strongly advise utilising the filters (the list is a lot less overwhelming that way). Brown University provides a variety of methods to experience the programme in addition to a large number of courses. Residential and commuter options, online pre-college programmes, on-campus and off-campus programmes, one-week courses, seven-week courses, and everything in between are all available. Each course costs money, and you can enrol in many ones.

Oh, and with their pre-baccalaureate programme, you can gain college credit before you ever enrol. Therefore, if you’re searching for the least expensive way to experience college at a prestigious institution, you may enrol in a four-week online course for under $1,000 or a one-week on-campus course for just under $3,000 instead.

Location: Providence, Rhode Island

Length: one to seven weeks

Cost: varies based on course length and your total duration on campus

  • One week of meals: $276
  • One week of housing: $296
  • Course fee: about $900-$8,000

Eligibility: middle school and up, depending on the specific program

Number of classes: 330+

3. Stanford Pre-Collegiate Studies

Stanford University is another prestigious institution that provides a diverse range of pre-college summer programs. Check out their High School Summer College program if you want to earn college credit. It provides 145 courses from 30 departments as well as a full range of academic support services such as advising, tutoring, and counseling. It will cost around $13,000 in total and is open to students in grades 10-12.

If you’re more interested in the experience than in earning college credit, there are eight non-credit pre-college summer programs. (None of these are available to high school seniors.)

Location: Stanford, California

Length: three to eight weeks

Cost: depends on program

Eligibility: grades 1–12, depending on program

Number of classes: 145

4. University of Chicago Summer Session

While the University of Chicago does not provide as many classes as the other pre-college programs we’ve looked at so far, they do have a variety of summer programs that each offer a distinct learning experience. There are noncredit programs that provide some fairly interesting options in addition to pre-college “intensives” that allow you to pick from college-level courses and earn credit.

Location: Chicago, Illinois

Length: three or four weeks

Cost: N/A

Eligibility: N/A

Number of classes: 15+

5. Northwestern University College Preparation Program

Northwestern University offers two types of summer programs to high school students. They provide college credit classes as well as two-week “IN FOCUS Seminars.”

Location: Evanston, Illinois

Length: two to eight weeks


  • College credit courses: about $7,000–$18,000+
  • Two week seminars: about $3,000–$4,000


  • Open to juniors and seniors with a 3.0 GPA
  • Competitive application process

Number of classes: 90+

6. University of Michigan Summer Academic Opportunities

The University of Michigan doesn’t simply provide 28 classes; they also offer 28 standalone summer programs focused on certain areas. Each one provides you a solid head start on a certain college path. These programs provide unique opportunity to investigate:

Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan

Length: one to six weeks

Cost: $0–$6,000+


  • K-12
  • Application process varies

Number of classes: 28

7. Emory College of Arts and Sciences Pre-College Program

Emory College of Arts and Sciences (a division of Emory University) provides non-credit and college credit programs. Every summer, hundreds of kids engage in the program. Emory refers to “college 101” as part of the pre-college experience. You’ll master the fundamentals of selecting a major, writing a college essay, and applying for financial help.

Most pre-college programs offer a variety of extracurricular activities, but Emory College identifies a few of them. You could spend your leisure time doing the following:

  • Zumba nights
  • Game night
  • Movie night
  • Zoo Atlanta
  • An Atlanta Braves game
  • Soccer
  • Carter Center
  • A basketball tournament
  • The High Museum of Art
  • World of Coca-Cola
  • Georgia Aquarium
  • Carlos Museum
  • The Center for Disease Control (CDC)
  • Talent shows
  • Admissions tour
  • Volunteer opportunities
  • etc.

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Length: two to six weeks

Cost: about $3,000–$8,000

Eligibility: juniors and seniors

Number of classes:

8. Cornell University Summer College

For more than 50 years, Cornell University has offered summer pre-college programs. Currently, they provide around 40 distinct pre-college programs for high school students. The program has around 1,200 students enrolled.

Location: Ithaca, New York

Length: two to six weeks

Cost: about $4,000–$13,000


  • Open to grades 10–12
  • Competitive application process

Number of classes: 37

9. Johns Hopkins University Summer Programs

Discover Hopkins and Summer University are two different pre-college summer programs offered by Johns Hopkins University. Before applying to college, use Johns Hopkins Summer University to put Hopkins’ undergraduate programs — and yourself — to the test. You’ll get a chance to see if Hopkins is suitable for you, and we’ll get to know you better as well. You can also choose courses in your preferred college major or broaden your horizons by taking a new language or humanities subject.

The duration is brief, but the content is not! Discover Hopkins Programs are intense sessions that introduce you to subjects from several viewpoints. For example, while you review the latest in environmental health, witness renowned researchers and listen to specialists from Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

Length: two to five weeks

Cost: about $2,000–$10,000


  • Summer University: grades 10–12
  • Discover Hopkins: grades 9–12
  • Both require a 3.0 GPA and have competitive admissions processes

Number of classes: 80+

10. Carnegie Mellon University Summer Pre-College

Best Pre-College Summer Programs

Carnegie Mellon University has seven unique summer programs for pre-college students.

Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Length: six weeks

Cost: about $3,000–$10,000

Eligibility: selective admissions process

Number of classes: 7

FAQs on Best Pre-College Summer Programs

Is Harvard pre-college program free?

The total fee for a 2023 Harvard Pre-College Program session is $5,300. The program fee includes tuition, room and meal plan, activity costs, and an accident and sickness insurance plan for the full two weeks. There is also a non-refundable $75 application fee.

Does going to Harvard Summer School help you get into Harvard?

No. However, attending Harvard Summer School and performing well will strengthen your application to any college or university.

Is the USC Summer Program worth it?

The USC Summer Programs is an excellent way to prepare you for college, both academically and socially. Being on a college campus and meeting people from all over the world is an opportunity that you won't get as a high school student, so take it while you can!

What GPA is needed to attend Harvard?

To be considered for admission to Harvard, you must earn top grades in high school. The Harvard Crimson reports that the average reported GPA of entering freshmen in the class of 2022 was 3.90 on a 4.0 unweighted scale.


After all, you’re the one who chooses which program is best. We can assist you in making an educated decision, but you must first establish which variables are most important to you. Summer programs for high school students are available at several institutions. Some are closer to you than others. Some are less expensive. You are not restricted to the shows on this list; they are just the top 10 in the country. Therefore, we hope that this article is of utmost use to you.

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