Pre-college summer research programs provide a great opportunity for high school students to grow intellectually while also increasing success in college admissions. Read on to learn about the many benefits of participating in a summer research program and for a sampling of the academic areas in which these programs are offered.


Develop Problem-Solving Skills & Participate in College-Level Academic Study

Research is a complicated process, requiring follow-through, perseverance, creativity, and problem-solving. Students need to hone their patience, develop a positive attitude, and employ creative analytic skills in order to conclude their experiments in a successful manner. Through research, students are introduced to more complex modes of thinking and analysis and must stretch their intellectual faculties. In fact, the level of inquiry required by high school research is often on the level of college or even graduate work.

Mentorship and College Recommendations

Participation in a summer research program provides an excellent learning opportunity in which students are exposed to experienced mentors who may be scientists, professors, or physicians. In addition to learning how these professionals act in real-world situations, students also have the opportunity to request a written recommendation from these mentors for their college applications.

Clarifying Career Options

Research programs take place in a variety of settings – hospitals, labs, professors’ offices, and even out in nature. The experience provides students with the opportunity to see themselves in these environments and decide if they are a good fit for a future career. Ruling out potential careers can be just as useful as confirming a particular path!

Resume & College Essays

A summer research program is an excellent experience to add to your Common App activity list and college resume. Be sure to include a description of your research and mention any awards you received. You will also have many opportunities to discuss your research in college essays. If the experience was extremely impactful, you may choose to devote your Personal Essay to a discussion of your research and its influence on your academic interests and future career paths. Alternatively, there are a variety of supplemental essays that would allow you to discuss your research, such as essays on your favorite activity, how you spent your summer, or why a particular college is a good fit for you.

Academic Areas

Research can be conducted in every academic area. Below is a sampling of summer programs for high school students, organized by interest.


At Boston University’s RISE Program (Research in Science & Engineering), rising high school seniors spend six weeks conducting lab research in their choice of STEM areas. At the conclusion of the program, participants present their results at the Poster Symposium by preparing an abstract, poster, and presentation. This year, the symposium, as well as the entire six-week program, will be held remotely.


The Summer Visiting Scholar Program at the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research is open to all high school, college, and graduate students interested in disease-oriented research. This program allows participants to reach out directly to their own mentors by searching the Feinstein faculty list, which is organized by areas of research focus. Some of the medically-related research areas include Alzheimer’s disease, brain injury, cancer, and Parkinson’s disease. At the end of this eight-week internship, participants are encouraged to present at the Poster Session in August.

Social Sciences

Tufts University offers a six-week summer research program, which will be virtual for Summer 2021. The Tufts Summer Research Experience is held in a variety of the world-class research labs on campus in many academic areas, including the Social Cognition Lab. Students are fully integrated into the research team and present at a virtual poster session.


Camp Euclid, a mathematics research program at the University of Georgia, creates a small research group for high school students. Mentors oversee the students working together on researching math problems that have never been solved before. This summer, the six-week program will be held online, and participants will share their findings through a research journal, the camp blog, and the camp wiki page.

There are many summer research program opportunities available to you. If you would like assistance in identifying the “best-fit” summer program for you, finding out more about summer academic programs and summer service programs, or guiding you with any other aspect of high school planning and college admissions, contact Collegiate Gateway. As always, we’re happy to help!

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