Writing may be a lonely craft, but it is certainly not something that is learned in isolation.
The best way to improve a student’s writing is to become part of a writing community where constructive feedback and encouragement can help them be the best writer they can be.
Thankfully, many institutions and universities offer the opportunity to be part of a writing community through their summer programs.
Many summer programs not only have students work with gifted university faculty, but they also bring students face to face with some of their favorite authors.
The following list of programs are among the best for a number of different reasons. Some are the best value, and others because of the unique program focuses they offer. But each brings a unique take on training young people in the craft of writing.
Regardless of why they are the best, each of these writing summer programs offers students a wide range of experience, opportunities, and support in becoming writers of the future.
BYU’s Young Authors Academy (Provo, UT)
BYU is known for its close association with the LDS church, which brings its commitment to service and community to the university in all areas of academic life.
As a result, the university has a thriving Young Authors Academy program that middle and high school students can take advantage of during the summer.
This week-long program allows students to live on the BYU campus, get training from BYU professors, and even meet and speak directly to guest authors.
Though students don’t have to stay on campus, it can be an enriching experience to live like a BYU student for a week.
Parents may feel hesitant about their child living like a college student. BYU’s code of conduct makes the Young Authors Academy program one that parents can trust to promote a wholesome and age-appropriate environment.
Lewis and Clark Fir Acres Writing Workshop (Portland, OR)
Lewis and Clarks’ Fir Acres Writing Workshop takes this spirit of adventure into the realm of writing and guides high school students through a two-week community writing experience.
Students will strengthen their reading and writing skills with the help of expert faculty while communing with the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
In addition to living on the beautiful campus, students will get a chance to wander the creative downtown of Portland.
As students walk the city streets, they will be walking in the footsteps of authors who made Portland home like Ursula Le Guin, Beverly Cleary, and Chuck Palahniuk.
Lastly, a visit to Portland would be incomplete without a trip to one of the famous Portland spots – Powell’s Bookstore!
With trips to the city, writing workshops, and wandering the campus, students will have a summer adventure they will think about for years to come at the Fir Acres Writing Workshop.
LMU’s Pre-College Beginning Screenwriting (Los Angeles, CA)
Loyola Marymount University is known for being one of the top film schools in the US, which is little surprise with it being located in the heart of the entertainment capital.
Students attending LMU will be in good company with alumni like X-Files co-writer James Wong and James Bond franchise producer Barbara Broccoli.
With this film school backdrop, LMU offers a unique opportunity to young writers who have a passion for the movies – Beginning Screenwriting.
Students will spend two weeks working closely with faculty screenwriters who have written award-winning movies and tv series.
By the end of the workshop, students will have developed their storytelling skills, learned to write in a collaborative environment, and have produced a short screenplay of their own making.
In addition to learning how to write screenplays, students will also have the opportunity to explore the behind-the-scenes process of filmmaking by visiting a local tv or film studio. At LMU, students learn to become writers who can create the magic of movies and tv.
Iowa Young Writers’ Studio (Iowa City, IA)
The University of Iowa knows a thing or two about excellence, particularly in writing. Out of this excellent writing program is the Young Writers’ Studio.
High school students will attend the studio for two weeks, focusing on a core writing genre. Through the two weeks, students will be able to work collaboratively with their peers, listen to published authors discuss the craft, and explore areas of writing they haven’t before.
Iowa has drawn writers since the university’s Writers’ Workshop was established in the 1930s and has a long and successful history of training aspiring authors.
As a result, Iowa City is known for being the place to be if you are a writer. High school students who want to join the writer’s life will be following a long tradition of writing excellence by joining Iowa’s Young Writers’ Studio.
Wharton Center’s Young Playwrights Festival (East Lansing, MI)
Though this opportunity is limited to Michigan students, it deserves recognition on the list because of the fantastic opportunity it provides aspiring playwrights.
The Young Playwrights Festival is hosted by the Wharton Center, which hosts a wide range of live entertainment from plays to concerts.
The Wharton Center and the MSU theater department work together to hold the annual Young Playwrights Festival, a unique competition connecting students with mentors.
This event calls on young playwrights to submit their best script with the expectation that if they win, they will be able to work with MSU playwrights to polish and further develop their script.
But this opportunity isn’t just about improving a student’s writing – it also results in the student being able to see their work come to life. The festival’s winner will have their polished play performed by the MSU theater department on the Wharton Center stage!
Georgetown’s Creative Writing Academy (Washington, DC)
Georgetown in D.C has a rich pre-college program for high school students looking to prepare themselves for higher education and a career. The university offers students the option to choose from over 20 possible “academies” to attend over 1-3 week periods of time during the summer.
For writers, the 1-week Creative Writing Academy offers high schoolers the chance to not only polish their skills, but also to learn what it takes to be a professional writer.
Students will get the chance to work with advisors to find publishing areas for their writing, gain advice on what higher education programs to pursue, and discover how to find funding for writing projects.
By the end of the program, students will even get the opportunity to publish their work. Georgetown’s literary magazine, Three Stars, features student work annually. A credential like this will look great on a student’s growing portfolio and resume.
UF’s Summer Media Institute (Gainsville, FL)
Ranked number 5 for being a “Top Public School” in the US by US News and Word Report, and known for being one of the most extensive journalism and communications programs in the US, the University of Florida has a special opportunity to offer students who want to pursue writing in media.
The Summer Media Institute is a 6-day workshop that draws students from all over. This program is different from the others on this list because it doesn’t require an application process.
Instead, the program is based on a first-come, first-serve registration process that closes once the student limit is reached.
Students attending the Summer Media Institute will learn the many different elements of storytelling in the real world. From getting to experience a newsroom to learning to build a story out of data, at UF students will learn that the writing process goes far beyond just writing words on a page.
Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference (Sewanee, TN)
The University of The South, as Sewanee is called, is one of the more picturesque locations on the list.
Located on 13,000 acres that the university calls the Domain, students who live at and attend the university have the beauty of Tennessee right outside their door.
This is an integral part of student life, as high schoolers will discover when they come to participate in the Sewanee’s Young Writers’ Conference.
In addition to writing, reading, discussing, and meeting guest authors, part of the experience is also getting to experience the beauty of the Domain.
Students who are taking a break from coursework can be found hiking the surrounding trails or going for a swim in nearby Fiery Gizzard.
One unique feature of this program is a reading list students will need to finish before coming.
A good writer is a reader, so students who are accepted will get to read the books of that summer’s guest authors.
This reading will come in handy later when students hear the guest author discuss their work and offer advice for students in their own writing process.
Being a writer means finding a workspace that inspires and reduces distractions. Students will discover that Sewanee offers both.
Princeton Summer Journalism Program (Princeton, NJ)
Princeton’s reputation reaches far and wide, making its Journalism Program the envy of Summer Programs.
It is no wonder that students are shocked to find out that the program is free. Even better, the program is free for those who wouldn’t traditionally be able to afford a summer program, let alone an ivy league program.
Princeton offers students from under-resourced backgrounds a full-ride opportunity to attend their 10-day Summer Journalism Program. Students whose families meet the income requirements and who are in good academic standing at their high school are eligible to go through the application process.
The program’s goal to create more opportunities in newsrooms for those who wouldn’t usually be able to afford the training includes helping students understand the college application process.
After a student leaves the program, they will be assigned a Princeton counselor that will assist them through all parts of the college application process no matter where they choose to attend.
This opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of situation. Students who meet the criteria will thank themselves for investing the time and effort to attend this life-changing program.
Susquehanna’s Writers’ Workshop (Selinsgrove, PA)
Susquehanna University is known for its commitment to being a green campus, an affordable private university, and producing students who excel. In the last nine years alone, the school has had 12 Fulbright winners and, more recently, has been awarded the STARS Silver accolade for its environmental efforts.
The university is also known for its Writers’ Workshop. Students who attend the week-long workshop will work with talented faculty like Hasanthika Sirisena, who has won the Juniper Literary Prize for her fiction. Students will also be able to work with Monica Prince, whose “choreopoems” are studied around the US.
The Writers’ Workshop allows students to immerse themselves in their writing craft to produce works they can take with them.
But before they leave with their work, students will get the chance to showcase their hard work in two different ways. Students will be able to perform their pieces for their friends and family at the end of the workshop and then publish their compositions in the SWW Anthology.
Talented faculty, an environmentally friendly campus, and talented peers – these are the makings of a great summer writing program experience.