10 Ways Summer 2014 Could Change the Rest Of Your Life

By Cindy Chanin On January 5, 2014

The beginning of a new year often symbolizes the beginning of new possibilities. Recognizing that high school at times can seem predictable and/or somewhat monotonous, we are encouraging our students to step out of their comfort zones in 2014. What better time to explore new horizons than in the summer? And, what better time to start planning for these opportunities than right now?
While many students choose programs on the campuses of prestigious colleges and/or “popular” programs that sound good (e.g. Columbia’s summer school program or the Cambridge University program), these programs won’t necessarily set you apart when applying to college. We encourage students to think outside the box and do something special for themselves… something that truly interests them. To get your wheels turning, we’ve compiled a list of 10 life-altering summer experiences for high schoolers.

1. Shadowing and/or Interning Under Someone You Admire

Whether you’re going on tour with your favorite band or working with a renowned physicist in her summer lab, finding a leader in a field you’re interested in to mentor you for a summer is quite possibly the most rewarding time and experiential investment you could ever make for your personal and vocational development. For example, one Rainbow freshman student recently spent a summer building a hovercraft and tesla coil with a world renowned engineer. The sky’s the limit with this option. Let your imagination guide you, then use politeness and persistence to get your foot in the door with the mentor of your choice. You’d be surprised how far a little ambition and self-determination will get you.

2. Junior Statesmen

The Junior Statesmen Foundation hosts summer programs at Georgetown, Princeton, Stanford, UVA, and Capital Normal University in Beijing and are designed to identify and hone the talents of our future leaders. Former Rainbow students who have participated in some of these programs not only made life-long friends and mentors, but also garnered real-life experience in Washington D.C. working on major political campaigns.
For more information: http://jsa.org/summer-programs/

3. Running Start

Running Start is another program geared towards involving high school students in politics, but with a twist. The organization’s goal is to empower exceptional young women to become leaders in their communities, in our nation, and around the world. Through participating in Running Start, young women will learn the ropes of the political industry, affording them more access to leadership positions and power in the decision making practices of our country.

4. Anytown

Anytown Youth Leadership Institute is an 8-day, full immersion, residential program for high school youth interested in making their school and community environments more socially just. Participants have the opportunity to explore topics of discrimination through experiential exercises and group dialogue, while making close friends from across the state and St. Louis region. Students leave Anytown as young people dedicated to creating a society based on inclusion, trust, and mutual respect.

5. Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School & Camp

Interested in the arts? How does attending the oldest performing arts school in the country while being mentored by top-notch professionals from Juilliard, Broadway, and Yale sound? What if we told you that you could ALSO embark upon breathtaking hikes in the Colorado Rockies, go tubing down the Yampa River or river rafting down the Colorado, compete in an Olympic style Kool-Aid war, and partake in a huge Fourth of July parade, some of the same amazing experiences as a cabin-based sleep-away camp? Sound enticing? Then this 6-8 week program for 13-17 year olds interested in dance, drama, musical theater, voice, instrumental music, creative writing, equestrian, and more might be perfect for you.  They also have pre-professional programs for college students, too, and offer participants college credit.

6. Alexander Muss High School Immersion Program in Israel

This renowned study abroad program is one of the most respected and profound experiential learning programs we have ever come across. Several Rainbow students have attended the program while obtaining accredited school units in lieu of their own High School curriculum during the school year. You can travel during the summer as well.

7. CIMI Program

For the budding biologist or underwater-adventure aficionado, we suggest spending a week at the Catalina Island Marine Institute (CIMI). The program is designed to enrich and inspire students through a variety of experiential marine science labs and field activities. For either 3 or 5 days, students will enjoy scuba diving, kayaking, exploring shark and ray tanks, swimming with water mammals, and learning about the variety of island ecology.  A Rainbow alum received his Master Diving Certification at CIMI!


8. Putney Student Travel

Putney Student Travel offers high school and middle school students the opportunity and insight to see how they can shape their world through travel, unique cultural engagement, friendship, and fun. Putney’s summer programs for high school and middle school students include community service, language immersion, adventure, travel, pre-college enrichment, and global awareness. They offer summer programs in North America, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa and Oceania. One Rainbow senior spent an amazing summer canyoning throughout France and perfecting her language skills.

Summer Programs Abroad for Middle and High School Students

9. The Smithsonian

While the internship opportunities vary over time, the amount of knowledge and experience you’ll gain from spending a summer in DC does not waver. Depending on your area of interest, the Smithsonian offers a variety of paid and unpaid internships ranging from The National Air & Space Museum to the Smithsonian Latino Center. Tried and loved by one of Rainbow’s students, this experience will undoubtedly help you better uncover where your intellectual curiosity lies and how to continue fostering it.

10. Paving The Way To The College of Your Dreams

This Rainbow program is truly a life-altering summer program that students can partake in should they wish to do something closer to home. Guaranteed to inform, inspire, and guide you to discover your assets, passions, and summer and/or collegiate adventures yet to be embraced, many a Rainbow student has found this engaging workshop an invaluable tool in discovering themselves and thinking ahead to college.
You can learn more about the program and register here:


If you’re curious about other ways to use this upcoming summer to step outside of what you know so that you can better prepare yourself for a fulfilling academic and professional future, consider attending our complimentary College Knowledge Night on January 14th. The event is open to high schoolers and their families of all grade levels. For more information click here, or watch the video below.

Have any amazing summer experience that have changed your or your child’s life? Share them with the entire Rainbow community on our Facebook page, Twitter, or below in the comments section.