Every year, Harvard’s Summer School programs welcome students from all around the world — and each one is remarkable in their own way.

However, entering an experience for the first time can be nerve-wracking; it can also be difficult to gauge whether or not a new environment will be a good fit for you.

If you’re anxious about applying for the program, consider these five key qualities of students who thrive at Harvard Summer School — and beyond — and if you possess any. You may find that you’re the perfect fit for our summer college programs for high school students


Harvard Summer School students are highly motivated and have a genuine passion for learning. They are eager to explore new subjects, ask questions, and engage in class discussions.

“I was with like-minded people who shared the same interests and passions,” said 2022 Secondary School Program student Mohammad Daas. “They all had the same high achieving characteristics that I have. I now have an even stronger drive to strive to be successful in academia and meet like-minded people while also paving a way for a career in law.”

How to find motivation at Harvard Summer School

The program offers students the opportunity to prepare for college, boost college applications, and expand their networks by making new friends and getting to know faculty and staff. 

Taking the initiative to attend a summer program demonstrates this motivation and can help students stand out from a crowded field of college applicants.

Academic Excellence

Harvard Summer School programs are academically rigorous and require a high level of intellectual curiosity, critical thinking skills, and strong academic performance.

“After only two weeks of classes, I feel much more knowledgeable and open to critical thinking. Through assigned readings, discussions, and projects, I got to taste what the college experience would look like,” said 2021 SSP student Kristina Nasteva. “After completing the Harvard Summer School’s Pre-College program, I feel ready to embark successfully on my next academic journey, which is going to college.” 

How to achieve academic excellence at Harvard Summer School

Harvard Summer School offers more than 300 courses to explore. Although the pre-college program is not for credit, students gain the first-hand experience of being immersed in Ivy League-level courses.


Most Harvard Summer School students are away from home — many for the first time — and must be self-directed and independent learners. They are responsible for managing their time, completing assignments, and taking advantage of the resources available to them.

“My SSP experience made the adjustment to college much easier as I learned the importance of having a routine and it became my home away from home,” said 2022 Pre-College student Illai Amar.

 How to develop independence at Harvard Summer School

Developing invaluable skills such as time management, building connections and relationships, and knowing when to ask for help will all help students transition more smoothly into college life.


Harvard Summer School attracts students from diverse backgrounds and cultures, and successful students are open-minded and willing to learn from others who may have different perspectives and experiences.

“The most impactful part of my Harvard Summer School experience was the people I met. Harvard Summer School not only gave me the chance to learn from people, but it also created a space where I could question, solve, and discuss with them,” said 2021 Pre-College Program student Christine Sinn. “I was able to challenge the current status quo, explore daring solutions, and discuss the ideas and passions that shape the people I met. With all of my professors, peers, and mentors at Harvard, I was able to step forward with an expanded perspective of the world.”

How Harvard Summer School expands your horizons

Being amongst such a vibrant cohort is a unique opportunity and we encourage all students to spend time together, participate in social and extracurricular activities, and fully engage with one another. You never know when you may meet a new friend for life!

A Desire to Be Challenged

Harvard Summer School offers a range of programs that are designed to challenge students and push them out of their comfort zones. Successful students are willing to take risks, embrace new ideas, and work hard to achieve their goals.

After all, Harvard Summer School isn’t a summer camp; it’s so much more

“The most beneficial and impactful part of the Harvard Summer School program for me was the experience in the classroom and the college-level assignments,” said Sydney Mims from SSP 2022. “I felt really challenged in a positive way by my professors and my peers to always bring my best thinking and work to the class. My writing and reasoning skills definitely improved during the summer.”

How Harvard Summer School challenges students

Harvard Summer School is a place for students who are eager to learn from some of the best and brightest minds in the world to come together and share that lively energy and passion for learning.