Some students like to spend their summer break away from academics. After nine months of hard work, summer vacation is a chance to get away from it all and just relax. On the other hand, there are some students who would like to continue learning throughout the summer.

Whether this is because you are a college student who wants to take additional courses in order to graduate early, a high school student hoping to make yourself a more desirable candidate in the eyes of college admissions officers or a primary student looking to keep busy and stay out of your parents' hair, a summer program can be a great opportunity.

Many colleges throughout the country offer a wide array of summer programs from which to choose for students of all ages, especially the California Institute of Technology, also known as Caltech, which is one of the most competitive.

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What Is Caltech Summer Camp?

Caltech has an amazing list of enriching summer camp programs for young students. Unlike other summer camps, students can come and learn interesting educational skills. Some of these programs are for girls only, some are for younger kids and some are for older kids. The camp programs are diverse and offer a wide range of activities for all interests, and you can see them all on the Caltech website:

Project Scientist: This is a girls-only summer program for kids ages 4 to 12. In this program, you will do hands-on science experiments, take field trips and listen to speakers.

iD Tech: This camp program is for kids ages 10 to 17. It focuses on coding, game development and robotics classes.

Alexa Cafe: This camp program is for only girls ages 10 to 15. It's a computer camp focused on entrepreneurship and social activism.

Education Unlimited: This program is for students from 4th to 8th grade. It focuses on everything from robotics to engineering to public speaking.

What Are the Caltech High School Summer Programs?

Caltech also offers programs to high school students. Some of these programs are open to not just high schoolers but also students who are somewhat younger.

Summer Research Connection: This program is for 15- to 18-year-olds and for teachers of Pasadena Unified High School.

Da Vinci Camp: This camp program is for 6th to 12th graders. It's a three-week math program that integrates science, engineering and the arts.

Caltech Summer Programs Exclusively for High School Students

There are Caltech summer sessions that are offered exclusively to high school students. This is known as the Caltech Summer Enrichment Program. This program is designed for high school students between 9th and 12th grade who want to become innovative researchers. You will do research projects in the labs on campus with the guidance of professors and apply what you've learned to other projects that will have a positive impact on the local community.

The program is six weeks long, and it exists in three stages over three different summers. Each summer program within the Caltech Summer Enrichment Program is called the "Community Science Academy," or CSA. Students will start in CSA 1 and can continue for the following two summers in CSA 2 and CSA 3, respectively.

The Community Science Academy has different highlights each summer, and each program is a prerequisite for the next. In general, though, the Caltech Summer Enrichment Program focuses on scientific learning by doing programs that are tied to a need in the community. To get into this program, you will have to go through a competitive application process. However, if you get accepted, then you can attend for all three summers without needing to reapply each year.

Caltech Summer Programs for College Students

Caltech also has a number of summer programs for undergraduate and graduate students, and these can vary from year to year. Check the Summer Programs page under the Admissions tab on the Caltech website for more information.

Some examples of Caltech summer programs for college students include:

  • The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory Research Program

  • The MURF program, which gives underrepresented students a chance to work in a research laboratory

  • The NASA Planetary Geology and Geophysics Undergraduate Research Program

How Much Do Caltech Summer Programs Cost?

One of the downsides of Caltech summer programs is that they can be rather expensive. However, like many summer programs and camps, it's certainly worth the money. Each program's cost is different, especially if it's an overnight camp or if it meets every day during the week.

The Alexa program, for instance, starts at $949 a week just for the day camp. If you want to add the overnight portion, then it's an additional $579 a week for room and board. You can also pay for add-ons, such as college advising for $99 an hour or online private lessons for $50 an hour. The Caltech Summer Enrichment Program, which is six weeks long, is $750 for the whole program.

To find out more information about the cost, you can visit the Caltech website and click on "Summer Programs." Then, click on the program in which you're interested, and it will take you to that program's page. On this page, you will find information about the cost. If the program's cost is a concern for you and your family, there are scholarships for which you can apply. Call the contact number for more information on applying for scholarships or for information about payment plans.

Benefits of Doing a Summer Program at Caltech

Choosing to participate in a Caltech summer program can have excellent benefits for your future. The programs for young children provide a great environment that's conducive to a child's learning and growth.

For high school students in particular, Caltech summer programs are competitive and thus will help you stand out on college applications. Even if college isn't your main prerogative, the programs can teach you invaluable skills that could give you the push you need to get a great job in computer programming, data science, engineering and other fields. Overall, a summer program at Caltech can be a great way to have new experiences, learn new things and make meaningful connections with others.

How to Prepare Yourself for a Summer Program

Attending a summer program can be a bit nerve wracking no matter how old you are. Young children might be excited but nervous about making friends. High school students might be concerned with whether or not they have the foundation necessary to understand the material that they will learn. College students may be overwhelmed with the experience overall, especially if it means opting for a summer program instead of getting a summer job.

If you're thinking of attending a summer program at Caltech, it's normal to feel anxious about it. However, there are some things you and/or your parents can do to prepare:

  • Read up on the program's features. This can help you choose a program that's best for you and also know what to expect when the summer comes.

  • Talk to other people who have done the program.

  • Talk to program leaders and ask any questions that you may have.

  • Be open minded! 

There's no limit to what a summer program can do for you or your child. If you're debating about whether or not it will be worth the cost and the time, consider all the long-term benefits.

About the Author

Hana LaRock is a freelance content writer from New York, currently living in Mexico. She has spent the last 5 years traveling the world and living abroad and has lived in South Korea and Israel. Before becoming a writer, Hana worked as a teacher for several years in the U.S. and around the world. She has her teaching certification in Elementary Education and Special Education, as well as a TESOL certification. Hana spent a semester studying abroad at Tel Aviv University during her undergraduate years at the University of Hartford. She hopes to use her experience to help inform others. Please visit her website, www.hanalarockwriting.com, to learn more.