During the school year, it can feel like so few hours in the day.
Whether it’s due to the pile of class projects and homework, extracurricular activities, or social pressures, the days can often come and go without students having had the chance to dedicate any time to their passions or interests.
Oftentimes, that’s where the summer can come in.
During the summers, we suddenly have all the time in the world to dig into personal projects and niche interests, which could even potentially grow to become areas of study in college or career interests.
But one can’t begin this exploration on their own.
Luckily for Texans, there are dozens of outstanding programs designed to help students spend their summers diving into their hobbies, interests, and passions.
And those Texans who do take advantage of summer programs don’t only get the chance to enjoy a handful of weeks explicitly focusing on their interests and passions, but they also are likely to experience advantages both when it comes to employment and college admissions.
According to the University of Vermont, pre-college summer programs don’t merely prepare students for what college might be like, but completing a summer program is likely to leave a positive impression on admissions officials.
As such, summer programs allow students to dive into their passions, increase their college readiness, and make a student more competitive with admissions officials.
With the myriad benefits of a summer program, therefore, many Texans will be looking for where to start in their search to find the program that is just right for them.
That is where this article comes in.
We are going to break down, in no particular order, the ten best summer programs for high school students in the state of Texas.
Within this list, any student—regardless of their academic interests or experience level—will hopefully find a jumping-off point in their search to find the perfect experiences for this summer.
UT Austin Summer Programs (Austin, TX)
UT Austin’s summer programs are a wonderful place to start for any student wanting to explore a particular academic subject or field.
This is the case because of the wide variety of pre-college summer programs offered by UT Austin.
From academies dedicated to medicine, to sports management, to the fashion academy, within the list of UT Austin pre-college summer programs any student is sure to find a program worth exploring.
For each of these programs, students can learn from and connect with members of UT Austin’s faculty and staff.
Summer programs vary in length, but UT Austin’s pre-college program is unique in that it emulates the dorm experience by having students live in on-campus housing, and it gives students a meal plan.
For students who cannot wait to attend college, few things may be better than such an experience.
Nascent Fellows Program (Austin, TX)
The Nascent Fellows Program is a 6-week engineering summer experience hosted at the University of Texas at Austin.
This program will be particularly appealing for high school students who aren’t only interested in learning more about engineering but in applying that knowledge in a hands-on manner like never before.
In this program, students are paired with a team of undergraduate, graduate, and professional researchers as they aid these researchers in 6 weeks worth of laboratory research.
Together, high school students will work with professional engineers to tackle problems with one another and aid the mission of a particular research team.
Along the way, students will participate in classes that seek to deepen their understanding of the science of engineering—taught by some of the most impressive engineering scholars in the nation at UT Austin.
The Anson L. Clark Scholars Program (Lubbock, TX)
The Anson L. Clark Scholars program may be one of the most prestigious high school summer programs in the nation.
Hosted by the Texas Tech honors program, only 12 high school scholars will be accepted into this program. Students do not merely apply from all over the country, but all over the world.
In this program, students propose and work on a research project over the course of seven weeks, which is relevant to any academic discipline taught at Texas Tech.
As such, any student, regardless of their academic interest or specialty, is more than welcome to apply to this program.
Intermixed with weekly activities and field trips, students will receive one-on-one mentorship to complete their research projects to the best of their abilities.
After completing their project, scholars receive a stipend of just under a thousand dollars.
Camp ARCH (College Station, TX)
Summer programs related to architecture, the skilled trades, or building design are often difficult to come by.
As such, Texans interested in this field will find a rare opportunity at Texas A&M.
Here, they do not merely provide a camp revolving around the building sciences, but they have designed one of the highest quality architecture/building sciences summer programs in the country.
Camp ARCH is a summer program for students interested in architecture, visualization, construction science, and urban planning.
This week-long program allows students to study a subject they might not be able to in their high school coursework, and they can do so while specifically diving into one of these four areas of building sciences.
ST.ART Programs (Austin, TX)
For those looking for a chance to dive into their artistic passions like never before, the ST.ART Programs at the University of Texas at Austin are a wonderful place to start.
These programs revolve around engaging, high-energy hands-on art instruction in a variety of styles and techniques.
There are two major ST.ART programs available for high school students. One is an intensive 4-week program, while the other is a shorter 1-week program.
Students will live on campus and work with artists in residence that are producing work relevant to students’ specific artistic concentrations.
This program culminates in students presenting their work in a gallery at the UT Austin Visual Arts Center and the Halls and Walls Gallery.
Carl B. & Florence E. King Foundation High School Summer Program (Houston, TX)
For 62 years, the University of Texas’s MD Anderson Cancer Center has hosted a prestigious summer institute for students hoping to enter the field of biomedical sciences.
As one of the nation’s leading cancer research centers, if not the top cancer research center, students will be working with the best of the best in a laboratory setting, gaining hands-on experience with scientific and medical discovery.
This program runs throughout the entirety of the summer, from June to August, and students will work in the MD Anderson center for five days a week throughout the program’s duration.
As such, this program is a time commitment, but one that is well worth it to gain mentorship and research experience alongside the nation’s best cancer researchers.
SEES High School Summer Intern Program (Austin, TX)
Few high school students will be able to enter their time in college able to say that they have been trained in aerospace engineering and astronomy by none other than NASA.
But at the SEES High School Summer Intern Program, hosted by the Texas Space Grant Consortium and UT Austin, students will experience just that.
This nationally competitive program brings in high school students to study the stars and the tools humans use to understand them.
During this program, students will work with NASA’s equipment and data under the supervision of trained scientists, giving students access to equipment and knowledge many people who study the stars can only dream of.
Wonderworks Houston (Houston, TX)
Wonderworks Houston offers a wide range of summer programs in subjects ranging from politics to architecture.
These summer programs tend to be several weeks in length and address subjects in the arts, such as theatre or writing.
Wonderworks collaborates with two significant universities in the Houston area: Rice University and the University of Houston.
The theatre program, as an example, is hosted on the Rice University campus, giving students the invaluable opportunity of practicing their theatre craft on a professional stage.
On the other hand, their creative writing program is hosted on the University of Houston campus, bringing together young writers to pick apart the craft of storytelling with professional writers.
High School Research Academy (Austin, TX)
The High School Research Academy, hosted by the University of Texas Austin, focuses on bringing together an interdisciplinary cohort of researchers to focus on tackling complex problems in a lab setting.
This program is unique thanks to its interdisciplinary nature, as a single research problem will be analyzed by students and professionals from various academic and scientific backgrounds.
Over eight different academic disciplines, ranging from neuroscience to data analysis, come together to collaborate with one another.
The program is five weeks in length and focuses on educating students in the act of research itself: the technologies, best practices, questions in the field of study, and more.
Rice Elite Tech (Houston, TX)
Few universities across the nation have a reputation as celebrated as Rice University.
As such, the chance to participate in a competitive, intensive, and selective engineering program at this prestigious school is sure to make any student who secures a position in this summer program stand out to both employers and admissions officials alike.
The Rice Elite Tech camps introduce students to the experience of studying engineering and technology in college.
In doing so, students will be instructed in the same concepts with the same professors as some of the nation’s most exemplary engineering students at Rice University.
Students have abundant freedom in designing the summer experience that is just right for them at Rice Elite tech, as they can choose from a wide variety of classes that utilize a similar curriculum to their undergraduate counterparts.