Go to College While You're Still in High School With a Pre-College Summer Program

    Posted by Kimberly Hewitt on Sunday, March 20, 2016


    Did you know that it’s possible to go to college while you’re still in high school? Many well-known colleges and universities offer pre-college summer programs to provide motivated high school students with the opportunity to immerse themselves in life as a college student for several weeks over the summer.  Why might you consider a pre-college summer program, what do they offer, and what are the application requirements and deadlines?  Read on to find out.  We'll also highlight some example programs you can explore.



    Why Consider a Pre-College Program?


    Explore or Demonstrate Your Interest in a Major/Career


    Most pre-college programs allow you to choose individual courses or a concentration/area of focus.  Whatever your academic or professional interest, there’s probably a pre-college program to help you explore it.  Examples range from the University of Rochester, which features  summer programs for medicine, engineering, and film studies, to Cornell, which offers programs in fields including architecture, veterinary medicine, and social change and sustainability.


    Experience Life as a College Student


    Pre-college programs tend to feature rigorous, college-level coursework—expect to stay busy with your academics!  As a student in a pre-college program, you’ll also have the opportunity to experience firsthand what it’s like to live on campus and meet new friends at college. 


    Enhance Your Application


    We already discussed how completing a pre-college program can help demonstrate your interest in a major or career.  Doing so can also demonstrate your interest in a particular university.  But no matter where you choose to complete your program, assuming you do well, you are sending signals to college admissions officers that you are intellectually curious, ready for demanding coursework, and serious about your academic and professional aspirations.


    That said, you should not consider pre-college programs as a prerequisite for admission to competitive colleges.  Our philosophy regarding all activities you undertake outside of your high school coursework is that you should do them because you enjoy them and grow personally/professionally.  Don’t sign up to do anything, including a pre-college program, just to enhance your resume.  Instead, check out our post on the strategy for choosing extracurricular activities.


    Eligibility & Application Process


    Most pre-college programs are open to rising juniors and seniors (current sophomores and juniors), although some programs are open to students as young as freshmen.


    Application deadlines for most programs are in the spring and approaching soon.


    Some programs involve a competitive application process with rigorous prerequisites, whereas others allow students to register on a first-come, first-served basis.  Many programs feature financial aid.


    Sample Programs


    Here’s a sample list of programs to help you develop a sense of what kinds of options exist.  Many other pre-college summer programs exist.  Search for programs based on your major/career interests, as well as any specific colleges or universities you are interested in applying to or learning more about.1


    Program Eligibility 2016 Deadline
    Brown (Summer@Brown) Rising sophomores, juniors, or seniors Rolling
    Cornell (Summer College) Rising juniors or seniors April 29
    George Washington (College Intensive Program) Rising juniors or seniors May 15
    Harvard (Pre-College Program) Rising juniors or seniors Rolling
    UCLA (Pre-College Summer Institutes) Age 14 by September 1, 2016 Rolling
    University of Connecticut (Pre-College Summer Program) Rising juniors or seniors Rolling
    University of Rochester (Intensive Studies Pre-College Program) Rising juniors or seniors (except for English program, which also accepts rising freshmen or sophomores) April 1
    Skidmore (Pre-College Programs) Rising juniors or seniors Rolling


    Get expert guidance on your college admissions strategy


    Get together with an expert to go over your entire college admissions strategy.  North to My Future is our free, individualized college admissions strategy session available at our Anchorage Center.  We'll sit down with you and a parent and cover your academic, testing, and extracurricular activity plans, including whether a pre-college program may be appropriate given your goals.


    Sign Up for My FREE College Planning Meeting


    Additional Resources


    Strategy for Extracurriculars—An Important Part of Your Applicant Profile

    The Four Foundations of College Admissions Success

    The Ultimate Guide to Designing Your SAT/ACT Prep Strategy 



     1Sample program information source: Program websites, accessed on March 20, 2016.  Some programs are also eligible to graduating seniors.  Frontier Tutoring does not endorse any of the programs listed and makes no warranties as to the accuracy of the summarized information.


    Topics: College Admissions: Explore Early, 9th Grade - Freshmen, College Admissions: Build Your Application Assets, 11th Grade - Juniors, 10th Grade - Sophomores, 12th Grade - Seniors, Anchorage