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The UnCollege Blog

Making The Most Of Your Summer


It’s easy to be lazy when the weather is warm and the Mr. Softee ice cream truck soundtrack is playing on a loop around your neighborhood, gently and relentlessly lulling you back to sleep. But summer is the perfect time to build up your extracurriculars and develop yourself as an individual. Whether you have some funds saved up or you’re flat broke, you can still optimize your four months of freedom to gain some incredibly valuable life experience. Here’s a list of some awesome organizations that offer summer programs for every budget.


The American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary Boys and Girls State programs strive to imbue students with leadership skills, confidence, and a greater understanding of exactly how their local government works. Through campaigns, mock-elections, and group-based workshops, these weeklong residencies unite students together in a quest for professional and personal development. Since 1935, the American Legion Auxiliary has gathered high school juniors every summer to attend state-based programs all across the country. The only catch is this: applicants must first pass an interview stage in order to be accepted into the free program. But, following the weeklong experience, two representatives from each state’s program are selected to go on to Boys and Girls Nation in Washington D.C. where they explore the inner workings of their federal government. For more information on the American Legion and American Legion Auxiliary, head over to their website.

inexpensive options

The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference ($300 per standard attendee/$25-$50 per individual class)
Since its foundation in 1949, this writer's conerence aims to connect writers with the writing community through in-person workshops and constructive peer and mentor feedback. Today the conference runs for three days in early June. By attending, individuals are given the chance to attend speeches, seminars, and manuscript critiques hosted by a rotating community of successful writers. Each year, 150 to 200 conference attendees flock to the city to participate in networking their brand and developing their craft. As long as you can snag a hotel room or get transportation in and out of the city each day, you’re all set to go! Those interested in the conference have the option of paying in full for the standard conference package or selecting and paying for individual courses a la carte. To learn more about the Philadelphia Writers’ Conference and the writing community, head over to their website.


The Pre-College Summer Institute at The University Of The Arts ($3,100 per Four-Week Residence/$560 per One-Week Intensive Class)
This U of the Arts summer program praises itself on being “the nation’s most dynamic and intensive summer arts program for high school students.” Whether you’re the next Picasso or struggling with finger painting 101, taking a summer course in the arts can help you develop yourself and teach you to see the world in a whole new way. UArts offers Pre-College credit-earning summer programs in Art Media and Design, Creative Writing, Dance, Music, and Theater. Not up for staying on a city campus during the summer? For an accelerated experience, the university also offers One-Week Commuter Intensives designed especially for those students living outside of Philadelphia or participating in additional summer engagements that prevent them from committing to UArts for the entire summer. Browse available courses on their website by going here.

People To People International ($6,290 per student)
People to the People International offers both student and adult travel programs that take you beyond tourism and fully immerse you in the culture and lifestyle of your chosen destination. Originally stemming from U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s efforts at building global peace, People To People has only grown. Today the program aspires to serve “as a gateway to a deeper appreciation of diverse cultures.” Once you get past the hefty price tag, the program is all that you could want out of guided international travel. After a series of home-based group meetings and practice excursions, participants head off on their adventure in a new land. Student travel destination packages for this summer include: Celtic Traditions, Mediterranean Dreams, European Legacy, Berlin To The Baltics, S.T.E.M, South African Safari, and more. Where will your journey take you? Check out People To People International here.

UnCollege’s Gap Summer Program ($7,500-10,000)

UnCollege's summer program will offer an alternative to participating in a full-year gap experience. Fellows begin with a three week excursion to Merida, Mexico during Voyage, the first part of the Gap Summer experience. After their travels, fellows return to San Francisco, CA for Launch, the second half of the program, which spans four weeks. During this time, fellows develop the skills they’ll need in order to succeed in college and beyond through a series of workshops centered on curiosity, creation, and self-advocacy. During the entire seven week experience, each fellow is matched with a coach to continually develop as an individual through one-on-one meetings and partnership. Although Gap Summer is an abbreviated version of the original UnCollege program, by the end of one summer it’ll have you ready to tackle your next life step, whatever that may be, as a self-educated and competent young learner. Check out the program here.

These are just a few of the many ways to kick boredom in the butt this summer. Whether you’re into the arts or more politically minded; if you yearn to travel or write the great American novel, there is certainly a summer program out there waiting for you.

So what are you waiting for? It's time to start making the most of your summer.