Money may be tight, but it’s not necessary to give up on finding a cost effective way to spend a productive summer. Free and low cost summer enrichment programs are out there, you just need to look a bit harder to find them, or think outside the box about what makes a productive summer.
Begin by considering your interests. Our nation’s need for engineers and scientists has led to the creation of numerous free and/or low cost programs in these areas. The Research Science Institute at MIT, the MITE program at the University of Texas, the ASM Materials Camp held at numerous universities, the Bridge Program in Biomedical Sciences at Sewanee, and the Summer Institute for Mathematics at the University of Washington are all provided free of charge or at low cost to qualified students. Interested in the environment? Check out the American Hiking Society’s Volunteer Vacations or the Student Conservation Association programs.
Students with interests in the humanities and social sciences might look to the Carleton Liberal Arts Experience for a low-cost enrichment program. Telluride offers free residential programs for students with outstanding qualifications, while individual states often sponsor Governor’s programs or honors institutes. Dual enrollment classes taken at a nearby community college are often provided free to high school students.
Many hospitals have outreach programs designed to interest students in the health sciences—check with your local institution for opportunities. Some state attorney’s offices allow student interns to shadow their lawyers. Contact your city government some departments even offer paid internships to high school students.
Look, too, to local businesses. Aspiring veterinarians can volunteer at their local vet’s office or work at an animal shelter or rescue organization. Budding artists might help out at an art school program, while future scientists can volunteer to work as research assistants for professors. Also use your imagination and work your (or your parents’) network of contacts.