Summer Programs

It’s a biting 65 frigid degrees in December in Los Angeles, so it feels like the perfect time to dream about summer. While summer simultaneously feels like it just ended, and is eternities away, the truth is that the time to start planning for summer is now! Most summer programs for high school students have applications that are due as early as February. That may seem way too early, but if your student wants a shot at an amazing experience and potential college résumé builder, it is important to create a summer plan asap. A questions we get asked often is what is the MOST impressive activity that a student could engage in over summer? The truth is, no one thing trumps the rest, but the following are all activities that build character, can be fun and engaging, and serve as great résumé builders:

  1. Summer job: This doesn’t mean somehow becoming a legal assistant at age 16 - colleges know that if students have impressive jobs very young it is most often because of family connections - getting a typical high school job shows colleges grit, work ethic, and desire to contribute to your family’s income… plus it’s relatable to the admissions teams who likely had to work similar jobs when they were young… I worked at Chilli’s… it was good motivation to work hard so that I could go to college and not have to work at Chilli’s.

  2. Internship: Summer internships are hard to come by for high school students. Students can search sites like,, LinkedIn, and other sites - but most high school internships come from tapping into your own personal network. If you have a specific interest, one great place to start is to look up local companies in that industry and check their individual websites and call to see if they ever offer internships to high school students. Even better, if you know of anyone in your community who works in your area of interest, see if you can do an informational interview with them (meaning buy them coffee and ask them well-thought out questions about their industry and career), and then ask if their company ever offers internships. If you can’t get a summer internship, don’t fret, there are many other great things you can do.

  3. Community Service: While it is important to do community service year-round, the summer presents an opportunity to engage in a more in-depth service project. Many of my students incorporate service projects into travel plans they have made with their families. There is a plethora of organizations that plan community service trips for teens - most come at a cost to the families, but if it is affordable for your family, these programs provide an amazing opportunity to travel, be of service, and enhance worldviews. Some programs are more reputable than others, so it is important to do in-depth research before signing up. Here is a short list of volunteer abroad programs that are free to students: Goabroad. has created a great list of ways to engage in community service for a large variety of interests: 129 projects.

  4. Pre-College Summer Programs: What better way to get an idea of whether or not you actually like your potential major, or would enjoy a certain type of college, Many of these programs are focused on specific areas of interest, and are hosted at a college, but designed by a private company. Some pre-college summer programs are hosted by the colleges themselves, require an application and essay, and can give students a potential advantage if they plan to apply to college at the same university. I highly recommend students participate in a pre-college summer program if they are able to (many are quite pricey), but it is important to diligently research the program before applying to make sure it is the right fit. TeenLife provides a thorough list of pre-college summer programs here: Summer Programs for Teens

    If you feel overwhelmed by planning your summer and want guidance for yourself or your student, please don’t hesitate to contact us! or

Rebecca Rehfeld