Top 2020 Summer Pre-College Programs for High School Students



While summer 2020 may seem far away for both our students and parents, now is the time that some of you may be searching for potential programs to strengthen your applications.


Gradually as colleges and universities receive a stronger and competitive applicant pool, the admissions office increasingly probes candidates for details (i.e how students are utilizing their summer vacation for personal and academic development).


It can be simple to enroll yourself into expensive summer programs that may provide a fun experience for students, yet they might not necessarily help distinguish yourself amongst the rest of the candidate pool.


So in today's blog, we will provide the top 2020 summer programs for high school students that will emphasize your personal passions and interests without completely breaking your wallet.



The majority of today's competitive universities offer students with at least one potential pre-college curriculum that invites high schoolers to explore their on-campus community, interact with the staff and faculty, and potentially even enroll in a few courses during the summer season.


While these pre-college programs offer a chance for an incoming freshman to have a taste of the college lifestyle and coursework, the selectiveness of these programs typically requires only one major component: money. If you have the fortune to pay for these schools' pre-college programs, then you can expect to participate easily.


Keep in mind, however, that these do not promise to improve your admission prospects. The primary condition for signing up for such college programs is cash, not your academic achievements and performance. They will do a fine job of depicting a portion of your enthusiasm for higher education, but you can definitely take it one step further by researching the following programs we will mention in this blog.


This article will concentrate primarily on the 2020 summer pre-college programs that either are free or have affordable tuition costs in comparison to other competitive universities.


These programs will allow gifted young students to look into potential fields of interest, become familiar with the college course load and study habits, and even make some new friends curious about similar studies!


Santa Clara University, Summer Engineering Seminar (SES)


This upcoming 2020 summer will be Santa Clara University's 31st Annual Summer Engineering Seminar (SES).


If you are considering pursuing science and engineering for your higher education, this SES pre-college program is an opportunity for you to explore engineering as a profession while residing at Santa Clara University's residential halls.


"The program is designed to acquaint participants with the engineering profession, the academic expectations of college, and the nature of life at a university."

There are three sessions offered over the summer break:

  • Session One: July 12-16, 2020

  • Session Two: July 19-23, 2020

  • Session Three: July 26-30, 2020


The application requires the following two criteria:

  1. A 500-word essay answering: What makes you an ideal candidate for the SES program? How do you think you could benefit from the program?

  2. An SES online instructor recommendation form, completed by one of your high school math, science, computing or technology teachers.


Application Deadline: Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Cost: FREE


Due to gifts from various sponsors and foundations as well as funding from the School of Engineering, the SES program is completely free of charge for student participants that are admitted. This will cover room fees, all meals, and supplies. Transportation is the only responsibility that participants will be held accountable for to and from the campus.


Student applicants are informed of their status via email by Friday, April 17, 2020.


Carnegie Mellon University, Summer Opportunities for Access & Inclusion


Carnegie Mellon University's pre-college programs have the goal of providing high school students with both "learning and development opportunities".


They have ten separate programs depending on your particular interests:


Nine out of the ten programs require an application fee of $50 alongside a deposit depending on your preferred program. The nine pre-college programs carry a hefty price tag (from $4,000 to $9,100) so please thoroughly examine the details on each individual program's detail page and make sure that the curriculum suits your passion and will positively supplement your personal and academic progress.


The star of Carnegie Mellon University's pre-college program is their Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) which is a no-cost option.


The only fee expensed for this specific pre-college program is the $50 application fee with the non-refundable $100 deposit.


"The Summer Academy for Math and Science (SAMS) provides opportunities for students from underrepresented communities to explore STEM-related fields and earn college credit."

This is a particularly good option for our students that have an interest in careers associated with STEM. As it has no particular fees in comparison to the other nine pre-college programs, we suggest looking into this curriculum if you have a strong passion for the Math and Science and STEM-related topics.


Start Date: Saturday, June 27, 2020

End Date: Saturday, August 8, 2020

Program Length: 6 weeks

Credit: College credit


Application Opens: November 2019

Preferred Application Deadline: Sunday, March 1, 2020

Final Application Deadline: Sunday, March 15, 2020

Final Payments Due: Wednesday, April 15, 2020


Applicants that are granted admission will only be responsible for "...books, supplies, transportation, and recreational expenses." If you require financial assistance, they offer a limited number of funds for transportation or book costs. These requests will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis.


Carnegie Mellon University ranked as number 9 for the Top 30 Pre-College Summer Programs in 2019.


Cornell University, CURIE Academy


Interested in exploring your fascination with engineering? Then Cornell's CURIE Academy may be the right summer 2020 program for you.


The CURIE Academy is a one-week residential program for high school girls with talent in math and science.


"The focus is on rising [female] juniors and seniors who may not have had prior opportunities to explore engineering, but want to learn more about it in an interactive atmosphere."

Application Deadline: Saturday, March 2, 2020

Non-refundable Deposit: $75

Tuition: $1,450


While the pre-college program requires a schooling expense, the entire expense includes room, board/meals, and research supplies.


Have a look at last year's CURIE 2019 Research Project: A Gel Based Scaffold for Repair of Tendon Injuries.


2019 CURIE Academy students who participated in the research "...[explored] the mechanics of tendon injuries using tendons from chickens. A defect was created to drive the design of gel-based scaffolds. The student rotated through 5 labs throughout the week."


Another positive element of this program is Cornell's effort when it comes to making the curriculum accessible to all students:


"​Additionally, rising seniors (class of 2021) who are African/Black American, Latino, Native American/Alaska Native, or Pacific Islander and/or first generation college students meeting the requirements below will automatically be considered for a tuition waiver for the 2020 CURIE Academy.

  • Math Score on the SAT/PSAT/Subject Test should be 620 or above (or equivalent ACT score of 28 or above) and/or

  • Have taken, currently taking or plan to take the following courses prior to graduating in 2021: Calculus, Physics, and/or Chemistry (or related advanced Science and Math courses"


California College of Arts, Pre College Summer 2020


The CCA Pre-College Program is set in "CCA's Oakland campus, where studio-focused, college-level courses help you push beyond concepts to portfolio-ready pieces."


If you have an enthusiasm for the arts, this pre-college program is a potential option you should look at. They have seventeen areas that you can focus on for summer 2020:


"At CCA’s Pre-College Program, you’ll join a diverse group of creative thinkers and makers that have one thing in common: the pursuit of purposeful work."

Eligibility: The program is designed for students who will have completed their sophomore, junior, or senior year of high school by summer 2020. Students must be at least 15 by June 2020 and not older than 18 to attend.

Online Application: Applications for summer 2020 will open on Wednesday, January 8.

Credit: 3 units of college credit


Application Fee: $50 (nonrefundable)

Tuition: $3,550

Tuition Deposit: $500 (nonrefundable, applied to tuition)

  • All art supplies and lab fees are included in the tuition cost.

  • There optional expenses such as housing and meal plans if you are also interested.


Although CCA's Pre-College programs have a tuition cost, its large range of art-focused curriculum is great for high school students passionate and engaged in crafting and artistry. You can tailor your summer break to concentrate on the specific arts you are interested in learning more of and familiarizing yourself with a college-level course experience.


Again, similar to the previously mentioned summer 2020 pre-college curriculum, have a thorough conversation with your parents or a guidance counselor on whether this program is the ideal option that (1) fits your financial criteria and (2) will help you excel in your personal and career goals.


Not Required, A Supplement To Your Application


Remember that involvement in summer programs are not crucial for you to gain admission into a selective college. Simply utilizing your summertime at a local internship or fulfilling a for-credit college course will illustrate your impressive dedication to personal and career growth.


The summer programs mentioned in today's article can help supplement a more exciting experience outside of your comfort zone all while distinguishing your application profile in the process if this sounds like something you want to subsidize.


For the completely free tuition pre-college programs, we highly recommend you apply if you meet the eligibility requirements. They are available at no cost and offer a fantastic opportunity to explore your interested career-field!


If you don't know how to get started, talk to your school guidance counselor or talk with one of our trained advisors to get your college plan started!



Take advantage of our free 30-minute consultation

with one of our academic counselors at (408) 216-9109.


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