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COVID-19 Update: All 2021 Harvard Summer School courses and activities will be offered online.

Pre-College Program Activities

Harvard Summer School programs for high school students have activities built in to give students a chance to socialize, get active, explore niche interests, and get ready for college. The intensive two-week Pre-College Program includes a few activity requirements, in addition to optional activities. 

During the Pre-College Program session, students are only permitted to sign up and attend activities during the two-week session in which they are enrolled. Due to the intensive nature of the program, Pre-College Program students are not permitted to have any outside commitments during their session(s). You’ll need every moment you have to excel in this academically rigorous program.

Pre-College Program Activities

The two-week Pre-College program includes some activities requirements. Once admitted to the program, you’ll be able to refer to your Harvard Summer School Passport to get more details and sign up. Here’s a preview of what’s available to admitted students.

Online Activities

When programs are online, all Pre-College Program students must complete the requirements below during their two weeks in order to pass the program. You may also attend certain SAO events during the two-week session. You can attend any virtual admissions events, regardless of which session you attend. 

Passport requirements:

  • One Academic Exploration: Lectures and discussions with Harvard scholars to give them a taste of the questions that drive various academic disciplines.
    • Examples: Criminal Moneymakers: The Economics of Organized Crime, Drug Legalization in Politics, Economics, and Public Health, and Race and Place: The Hidden Stakes of Geography for Democracy and Distribution
  • One College Readiness (Open to all HSS high school students): Workshops to help students develop and practice critical academic skills to support transition and success in college.
    • Examples: Reading with Purpose: How to Prepare for Class Discussions and Course Assignments, Time Management for Success: Prioritization and goal-setting for academic, extracurricular, and social life, and “All I Do Is Win” Unpacking Perfectionism In High Achieving Students
  • Three Community Engagement Sessions with a Resident Director:  Discussions and a time for students to get to know each other.

On-Campus Activities

When programs are on campus, all Pre-College Program students must complete the requirements below during their two weeks in order to pass the program. You’ll receive a physical passport and need to get it stamped at the events you attend. 

Passport requirements:

  • Two Academic Exploration: Lectures and discussions with Harvard scholars to give them a taste of the questions that drive various academic disciplines.
    • Examples: Criminal Moneymakers: The Economics of Organized Crime, Drug Legalization in Politics, Economics, and Public Health, and Race and Place: The Hidden Stakes of Geography for Democracy and Distribution
  • Two College Readiness: (Open to all HSS high school students) Workshops to help students develop and practice critical academic skills to support transition and success in college.
    • Examples: Reading with Purpose: How to Prepare for Class Discussions and Course Assignments, Time Management for Success: Prioritization and goal-setting for academic, extracurricular, and social life, and “All I Do Is Win” Unpacking Perfectionism In High Achieving Students
  • Two Social and Residential Activities:  Events hosted on campus and in residential spaces by proctors to engage you with other participants in the programs. Events in the past include t-shirt tie-dye, arts and crafts, talent shows, dance lessons, study breaks, and other low-key events for you to hang out and get to know others in the program
    • Traditional Pre-College programs: Escape The Yard (Students are going through the history of Harvard from past, present, to the future, using clues from different locations, people, and resources from around the yard to help them unfold the story), No Talent, Talent Show, Pre-College dance
  • Two Trips and Recreation: Outings on and off campus to give you an opportunity to explore all that Cambridge, Boston, and Southern New England have to offer
    • Examples: Newport, RI, Red Sox games, Hamilton, Canobie Lake Park, The Freedom Trail Tour, Whale Watching, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Activities for All Admitted High School Program Students

Our Student Activities Office and Dean of Students Office host a range of activities throughout the summer that are open to all admitted Harvard Summer School students, as long as the activity is within the time frame of your session.

Online College Admissions Programs

  • Harvard College Admissions Talk: Informational session with admissions officers from Harvard
  • Selecting the Right College: A panel featuring summer staff (Resident Directors in Pre-College Program and Assistant Deans in the Secondary School Program)
  • Paying for College and Applying for Financial Aid: A hands-on workshop
  • Virtual Admissions Panel: Featuring admissions officers from a range of Ivy and Ivy+ institutions.
  • Writing the College Application Essay: A hands-on workshop.

On-Campus Student Activities Office Offerings

Summer 2021 will be held entirely online, but if you’re looking ahead to 2022, here are some activities you may be able to partake in next summer: 

  • Film Series: A mix of the latest releases and long-standing fan favorites, every weekend night
  • Athletics: Weekly pick-up games and tournaments across a range of sports, usually basketball, soccer, dodgeball, tennis, and running
  • Language Tables: Informal conversation tables over meals in the dining halls, for those interested in practicing a second language, missing their native tongue, or anywhere in between. 
  • Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Sessions: Led by trained facilitators designed to promote students’ understanding of and appreciation for diversity, inclusion, and belonging
  • Special Events: Large-scale events that vary from year to year. For example: Arts Night in Annenberg, Game Night in Annenberg, Cake Decorating Contest, World Cup Watch Parties, Olympic Games Watch Parties, Election-Year Political Debate Watch Parties. 
  • Trips and Excursions: Off-campus trips throughout Boston and greater New England
    • Arts & Culture: Museums and performing arts. Examples: Museum of Fine Arts, Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Cirque du Soleil, Broadway in Boston shows.
    • Population Destinations: Beach towns, hiking trails, festivals. Examples: Martha’s Vineyard, Newport, Provincetown, Middlesex Fells hiking, Harborfest.
    • Recreation: Amusement parks, sporting events, etc. Examples: Canobie Lake, Red Sox games, laser tag.
    • Recreation / Education: Guided tours, aquarium, etc. Examples: duck tour, whale watch, Arnold Arboretum, guided walking tours of Boston, Museum of Science, New England Aquarium.