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Home » College Affordability and Preparedness » Is a Pre-College Summer Enrichment Program Right for Your High School Student?

Tens of thousands of middle and high school students around the globe are getting the chance to explore their academic passion, potential future career paths, and college life on real university campuses thanks to Summer Discovery.

Adriane Thorpe

CEO, Summer Discovery

“Our students develop lifelong friendships and have the opportunity to learn from and build relationships with peers from around the world. It is a truly unique opportunity for students at this age.” 

One student thought they wanted to become a doctor. This summer program at the University of Texas at Austin taught her about treating patients who arrive in an emergency room by triaging the situation, and allowed her to do practice labs in a simulated hospital, complete with robotic responsive training mannequins, which then confirmed that medicine was the career path she wanted to pursue.

Another student studied the Business of Entertainment at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. During the program, he was able to directly learn from locally based practicing producers, agents, and entertainment marketers who engaged with the class as part of the program — offering real-world experiences and perspectives. He was able to directly connect and build a relationship with one of the guest lecturers that led to an internship the summer after his first year in college.

A third student, who spent two summers attending programs at the University of Michigan and studied multiple disciplines of psychology, went on to attend Brown University for her undergraduate degree, majored in psychology at Brown, and obtained her doctorate in clinical psychology. Today, she is a well-known expert in cognitive-behavioral therapy in New York City and a published author.

Summer Discovery students at UCLA

These are just three of the more than 100,000 students who have participated in Summer Discovery programs, which provide immersive, hands-on academic curriculums tailored to high school, pre-college, middle school, and gifted students. 

The Musiker family founded Summer Discovery in 1966 “with a mission to become a leading summer academic program provider for kids and teens,” said Summer Discovery CEO Adriane Thorpe. “Almost six decades later, our vision has become much larger.

“Not only did we become leaders in exceptional academic pre-college summer programs for high-potential students, but we have evolved to include programs for gifted students, offering students across the globe unparalleled access to world-class academics, enrichment courses, socialization, activities, and adventures in a fun and safe residential life experience,” Thorpe added.

With programs available for students grades 1-12, Summer Discovery enrolls over 10,000 students annually across more than 15 campuses, with over 300 courses offered across a variety of subject areas and disciplines. To keep its program running safely and smoothly, Summer Discovery ensures small class sizes, with an average student-to-staff ratio of 10:1.

Choosing a program 

Here are some of the basics behind Summer Discovery’s programs:

Summer Discovery High School and Middle School 

Suitable for students completing grades 6-12, this program helps students identify, build upon and expand their academic interests in preparation for college. In addition, students build real-life skills and have ample time to form friendships and community with students from more than 80 countries. 

“In addition to academics, our students have opportunities each day to explore exciting cities, enjoy the beautiful summer weather and outdoor recreation, and participate in fun social events, like silent discos and barbecues on a college campus,” Thorpe said. 

Summer Discovery students at Georgetown University

Living on campus helps students foster skills like time management, responsibility, independence, and college preparedness. What’s more, off-campus adventures — from exploration of must-see city highlights, parks, and local hotspots, to sporting events, trips to the beach, and theme parks — are all included. 

“Our pre-college program reputation and close university relationships are internationally recognized and are perfect for pre-college students to explore their interests, passions, specialized academic fields of study, or possible future career paths. This is a great way for students to enter college incredibly prepared,” Thorpe said. 

Click here to apply now for Summer Discovery’s 2024 Programs

Summer Discovery Institute for the Gifted

The Institute for the Gifted summer program is designed specifically for high-achieving students. It offers an unparalleled proprietary academic curriculum that is engaging, hands-on, and tailored to each student’s specific needs,” Thorpe said. 

The Institute for the Gifted caters to students Grades 1-12 and offers courses in more than 38 areas of study on five college campuses. Depending on the student’s age and personal preference, students can choose from a full-day, half-day, or overnight residential program. 

Institute for the Gifted students immersed in hands-on learning in the lab

A “community of like-minded learners creates a safe space that nurtures friendships, self-confidence, and self-discovery” in this program, said Thorpe, adding that the coursework is designed to be experiential and hands-on to foster teamwork and collaboration.

The staff, instructors, professors, and residential life counselors all contribute to the students’ on-campus experience, ensuring each student has a successful summer and walks away with an experience that helps shape their future. 

“Our network of professors and educators has led to student internships and recommendation letters,” Thorpe said. “Students develop lifelong friendships and have the opportunity to learn from and build relationships with peers from around the world. It is a truly unique opportunity for students at this age.” 

What else to expect

“We are continually innovating in the space of pre-college education, bringing new university programs into our network, and expanding our programs of study to evolve with emerging tools, technology, and trends,” Thorpe said.

Currently, the Summer Discovery team is forging relationships with world-class brands, private corporations, and businesses in order to offer pre-college programs “where students can learn first-hand what different career paths and organizations are like. For brands who work with Summer Discovery students, it’s an opportunity for them to connect with future consumers and leaders, and leverage these high-potential students as collaborators in new ideation and innovation,” Thorpe said. 

How to apply

Summer Discovery reviews applications on a rolling basis each summer. The Summer 2024 program lineup has just been announced. Tuition starts at $3,799, however, costs vary depending on the campus, length of program, and commuter or residential housing options. Interested candidates can apply at and find more program details at

“We review every application to ensure students will be successful at the program they selected based on academic rigor and acceptance criteria,” Thorpe said. “As we forge new university relationships, programs may be added throughout the season, so we recommend checking back regularly. We also encourage families to apply early, as space is limited at each campus and program — and the most popular programs fill up quickly with students looking to attend a top university.” 

Summer Discovery is accepting applications for its 2024 programs now

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