Summer camps and pre-college programs for high school students abound—we have a whole summer program section, after all! But what about after high school? Summer programs are just as important for college students, and there are plenty of options beyond the typical part-time job or May-term class. Enjoy a fun and fruitful summer with these summertime alternatives that can help boost your résumé, broaden your horizons, and support your community and beyond.
Ivy League options
You don’t have to be a Vanderbilt to study at some of the country’s most prestigious institutions this summer! Harvard, Cornell, and Yale (to name just a few) all offer summer sessions for their students as well as visitors from other colleges and universities.
Both grads and undergrads can take Harvard Summer School’s seven-week courses in organic chemistry, abnormal psychology, and more for transfer credit—or just for the sake of learning. Students can live on campus, commute, or take classes online, and while some have prerequisites, “most courses are open to any college student without application,” according to their website. Registration begins in March and courses fill up quickly, so it may be wise to sign up for a reminder.
Similarly, the Cornell School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions allows any student to take classes on campus, off campus, or online. Other programs, like the Yale Summer Sessions, have an application process for prospective summer students. Deadlines can run anywhere from January to May, so whether you need to apply or just simply send in a check, it’s best not to waste time if you want to secure a spot in any of these selective and competitive programs.
The price tags on these summer schools can be intimidating, but scholarships and financial aid options are available to students with demonstrated need. And you don’t just have to go Ivy to enrich your transcript this summer. Thousands of schools open their doors to visiting students, making it possible to experience academic life at many other colleges and universities after your school year ends.
Internships are a common occurrence in a college student’s summer plans. They’re also important in gaining real-world skills, enhancing your résumé with work experience—you’ve heard the spiel. Your school’s career services office is a valuable resource in locating an internship site, but we found extra-fun gigs at some well-known companies after conducting a quick search online. If you’re lucky enough to snag one, you’ll be bragging about your summer job all year long!
Exhibit A: Maury Povich, Steve Wilkos, and Jerry Springer. What student hasn’t been distracted by one of these TV shows when they were supposed to be studying? They are outrageous, entertaining, and addicting—and they also happen to have interns on set! If you’re majoring or just interested in television, film, media, or communications, these talk show internships are great opportunities as well as fun conversation starters. Plus, interns are responsible for the shows’ hotlines that potential guests call. Is there a better number to have on a business card than 1-800-CALL-MAURY?
An awesome opportunity for any major is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame internship. Undergrad and grad students can volunteer in many different departments, including Library and Archives; Marketing and Communications; and Museum Collections, Photography, and Digital Media. Interns may not get paid, but they most definitely have an exciting work environment—plus a gift shop discount!
If you’re looking for a bankable internship with a whole lot of benefits, you should start browsing Buzzfeed’s job listings. Summer interns get “a super collaborative work environment, learning and professional development opportunities, lunch and learns, fun outings, and overflowing perks!” according to a job description. Positions are available in Ad Innovation, Business Operations, Marketing and Events, Research, and more. You’re already on Buzzfeed like it’s your job, so why not apply and add it to your résumé for real?
If you’re busy with required classes and other responsibilities during the school year, traveling abroad during the summer may be the perfect compromise. You should investigate your options with your own college or university—many schools have branch campuses or exchange programs, and sometimes study abroad is even built into your tuition—but there are many ways students can get from here to there.
Broadreach Global Summer Educational Adventures offers international field experience for middle school, high school, and college students and allows you to find programs based on grade level, interest, destination, length, and more. Programs can be as wide ranging as the Belize and Costa Rica Adventure—think scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, and whitewater rafting—or as specialized as Language and Culinary Arts in France. Students also have the opportunity to earn certifications, college credit, and community service hours on their trips. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, but once again, it’s best to not wait until the last minute to make plans.
For more touristy travel, EF College Break Educational Tours are a smart choice for students. Designed for young adults ages 18–28, these trips are led by tour directors and are extra appealing because they do all the scheduling for you: transportation, hotels, sightseeing tours, and free time to explore are scheduled into your one-week, two-week, or month-long excursion. EF specializes in European countries but also offers trips to Asia, Australia, and South and Central America. You’re sure to hit all the tourist hotspots, have fun, and learn a little something whether you book on your own or with friends.
Students looking to lend a helping hand abroad can find international volunteer projects and English-teaching jobs through organizations like i-to-i Volunteer Travel. Opportunities in community building, wildlife conservation, Teaching English as a Foreign Language, and more are available during the summer months (and all year round) throughout Africa, Asia, Australasia, and Central and South America. If you can’t decide where to go or what to do, take their quiz to help find the best option for you and earn a coupon code to reduce the price of a future trip (every penny helps!).
Community service is important and appreciated at home too! If you need help finding a cause, VolunteerMatch.com is a great resource in your search for local and virtual volunteer positions in a variety of areas, including arts and culture, health and medicine, education and literacy, and more. By typing in keywords and locations and filtering by category, you can connect with nonprofits and causes that are important to you and conducive to your major or future career. What is expected of you is spelled right out with detailed profiles of each job, including necessary skills and other requirements. And many of the opportunities listed are flexible, allowing you to help out whenever your summer schedule allows.
Are you doing something different this summer? Let us know in the comments!