15 Career Programs for High School Students
When applying to colleges, there are many things that a school will look for in a potential candidate. SAT scores, overall scores and GPA for all your classes throughout the years, your admissions essay, extracurricular activities, and volunteer work are just a few of those things. If you are applying to a competitive school, you will need to set yourself apart from the other applicants. One way to do this is to enlist in career programs throughout your time in high school. This will not only help to get your foot in the door in your future career but will show the college you are applying to that you are serious about studying for a career in whichever field you choose! There is a plethora of programs available to you for many different courses of study, where you can gain more knowledge and hands-on experience for the field you wish to study in. Some of these programs may even offer scholarships to deserving candidates. The best time to look to enroll in these programs is over the summer, but there may be options available to you during the school year as well! Here are 10 types of career programs that may help for various areas of study:
STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics):
This is a very broad field with many very specific areas of study. Here are just a few of the excellent programs out there with various locations throughout the United States:
- 1) The Airforce Research Laboratory has a Scholars program that offers a stipend for paid internship that is open to 11th and 12th graders as well as undergrad and graduate students who wish to pursue a STEM degree. This program offers hands-on experience working with scientists and engineers on research-based projects. Along with technical training, you will also be able to network and gain mentorship for your future endeavors.
- 2) The Office of Naval Research has a Science & Engineering Apprentice Program (or SEAP). This is a summer program for high school students where they will participate in research at a Department of Navy lab. This is a competitive, 8-week program. The experience a student gains here will follow them into their college career and hopefully into their career in the science and engineering field as well. Experience in this program may also lead to future employment at the Department of Navy.
- 3) MIT’s Office of Engineering Outreach Program offers programs for underrepresented and underserved students interested in any of the STEM concentrations. The program is free of charge but highly competitive. Students in this program will choose from one math course, one physics course, one life science course, a humanities course, as well as an elective.
For more programs throughout the United States that focus on STEM, check out this website!
Medical: If a PhD. is in your future, here are some programs that might help you to get a jump start on your career. Med schools are very competitive and will most definitely look at related volunteer work and internships when considering your application.
- 4) The University of Washington has a Neurological Surgery Summer Program. Attend lectures and observe and you can even receive a stipend for the 8-week program.
- 5) Love those pearly whites? If you are interested in studying dentistry, check out NYU’s College of Dentistry’s Saturday Academy. This program runs for 7 weeks and will help students to explore hands-on the dentistry profession. The best part about this program is it only meets 2 Saturdays a month during the fall semester, and it’s FREE!
- 6) The National Student Leadership Conference on Medicine & Healthcare is a summer program serving high school students and takes place in some of the country’s biggest cities. In this program, students will learn surgical techniques in a hands-on setting, learn from prominent leaders in the medical community, engage in leadership training, explore research and more. The program even offers a tour of the city (some cities include Washington, D.C., Miami, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia, and more!).
If you would like to explore other pre-college programs throughout the United States, you can find a larger list here.
Communication Studies (Journalism, Broadcasting, Politics, Business Administration, etc.): If you are looking to major in one of these areas of communication studies, here are some programs you might want to check out:
- 7) The Brown Leadership Institute offers two-week residential sessions to their summer program. According to their website, the program “integrates three foundational components: study of a compelling academic topic, exploration of socially responsible leadership, and development of a meaningful action plan.” There are several areas of study for students to choose from including Creativity and Social Change, Women and Leadership, Law and Social Change, The Politics of Science and Society, Combatting Human Trafficking Globally, and many more.
- 8) The Princeton Summer Journalism Program is much shorter in length compared to many of the other career programs offered to high school students. In this program, students will learn skills to help them develop their very own newspaper, as well as attend lectures and workshops. The program offers the ability to tour major news organizations and to receive lectures by reporters and editors from various well-known news sources. Students will stay on campus as if they were a member of the college student body and at the end of the program, they will receive guidance on how to choose and apply to the best college for them as well as test prep and essay writing.
- 9) Syracuse University offers MANY pre-college programs for high school students in a vast array of subject areas. One of those subjects is Public Communications. In this program, students will spend 6 weeks learning about contemporary problems in the media while attending lectures from guest speakers in the media world, learning about the practices of journalism and other forms of media and how they are changing in today’s world, and become introduced to a wide range of careers in the Communications field.
Law: If you are seeking a future career in law, here are some programs that might help you get the boost that you need pre-college:
- 10) Interested in true crime and justice? Check out the National Youth Leadership Forum Law & CSI program. Spending 6 days in Washington D.C., students will gain hands-on experience in law and CSI work with evidence analysis and forensic simulations, study the judicial process, visit a courthouse and listen in, and will even get a behind-the-scenes look at George Mason University and their admissions process.
- 11) Harvard Summer School offers two different program options. One is a 2-week Pre-College Program experience where you will live on campus but will not receive college credit for the program. Classes are 3 hours a day and then you will participate in college readiness workshops and team building, all while getting a taste of the college experience. The second option is a 7-week, Secondary School Program that will give you a full college experience. There are hundreds of course options to choose from for either program.
- 12) University of Pennsylvania Law School has a Pre-College program for 3 weeks over the summer. During this program, students will spend two weeks studying contracts, torts/liability, constitutional law, and criminal law. During the third week, students will choose a concentration (either Business & Entrepreneurship Law or Human Rights & Legal Advocacy), gaining an understanding of how law works in the real world, legal jargon, current issues in law, and the rest of the tools needed to set the foundation for a future career practicing law.
Arts: Perhaps you have some other talents that you would like to turn into a career. Careers in the Arts can be difficult, but if you have the talent, it is recommended that you lay the groundwork to have a more successful career by immersing yourself in that world through volunteering or internships. Here are some programs that may be beneficial to you:
- 13) UCLA has an Acting and Performance Institute that takes place over 3 weeks in the summer. Students will live on campus and can receive UCLA college credits for their participation. Some of the workshops offered are movement, playwriting, camera acting, theater acting, mask making, combat class, and tech/design, among others. The program also includes field trips to local theaters to observe performances, dress rehearsals, and other behind the scenes action. At the end of the program, students will participate in a final performance showcase, which they will be required to contribute to in multiple aspects of the creative process.
- 14) Rhode Island School of Design has a 6-week, Pre-College program for students interested in art and design. The program balances Drawing & Design Foundations, studies within your Major, as well as Critical Studies in Art. While in this program, you can choose an Art Major to focus on. These include Animation, Ceramics, Game Design, Graphic Design, Architecture, Photography, Jewelry, and more. Your day as a student in this program will involve group and individual critiques, lectures, demonstrations, time to develop and research ideas, and time to work on and complete artwork. At the end of the program, there will be final exhibits to display for friends and family.
- 15) The Pratt Institute offers a Fall, Spring, and Summer Pre-College program for high school students. During this program, students will choose a major concentration to study amid the required core classes. Some of these are Art & Design, Creative Writing, Cultural Studies, Digital Arts, Fine Arts, Interior Design, Film/Video, Sculpture, and Sequential Art & the Comic Book. This program will earn students 4 college credits that are accepted at most colleges and universities.
If you are unsure of a major or area of focus, there are still many other pre-college programs out there, as well as more for each career area than I have listed here. If you are interested in a specific school, a simple Google search of the school’s name plus “pre-college program” should yield results if one exists for that college or university. Here are two websites that have larger lists of career programs that aren’t narrowed down to any specific field of focus: Fast Web and College Consensus. Happy hunting and best of luck in your future endeavors!