Museums, libraries, and other organizations in Chicago offer summer learning opportunities for teenagers in the form of internships, jobs, and other programs. Many offer payment or stipends, or the chance to earn a college scholarship. There are also academic programs available to find out more about the college experience.
Camp College. Camp college is a free program that gives current high school juniors an opportunity to to learn about the college search and application process firsthand from college admission professionals and high school counselors. Participants will learn about navigating a college fair, essay writing, identifying college fit/match, financial aid, and many more topics. In addition, students visit multiple colleges/universities and experience living, eating, and playing on a college campus. Campers will also be paired with a counselor-mentor whom they retain for the school year. Camp College will be held July 7-10 at two schools: the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Monmouth College in western Illinois. Housing and all meals are free. Admission is limited to 40-50 students, and applicants are asked to submit a $20 deposit to hold a place after they have been accepted. Students should attend high school in Illinois OR currently live in Illinois. They also must have a minimum cumulative grade point average of 2.5 on a 4.0 scale. Applications, parent waivers, and letters of recommendation are part of the application process, which opens soon. The program is sponsored by the Illinois Association of College Admission Counseling. You can learn more about Camp College at its website.
College Connect at DePaul University. DePaul’s College Connect program introduces students to college-level coursework, while also providing college readiness workshops, career exploration opportunities, and diverse cultural experiences. Six different classes on topics such as animation, journalism, and social justice will be offered from 9 a.m. to noon, Mondays through Thursdays, June 29 through July 31. The free program, open to current sophomore and juniors, covers tuition and all course materials and also supplies students with Ventra cards to cover transportation. Students must submit an essay, transcript, and letter of recommendation from a teacher. The application deadline is March 31. More information is available at the College Connect website.
Carleton College Liberal Arts Experience. Want to live on a college campus for a week to see what college might be like? Carleton College, a top liberal arts school in Northfield, Minnesota, offers a program for 52 current high school sophomores from all over the country, with tuition, room and board, and travel costs all free. The experience introduces the strengths of a liberal arts education through an array of courses in science, art, social sciences, and technology, and will be held on the Carleton campus July 11-18. Applications and all supporting materials are due April 10. More information is available at the program’s website.
Adler Planetarium. Teens have several options at Adler. Students currently in 8th grade or high school can apply to the Astro-Science Workshop, where they will get hands-on opportunities about space exploration that involve telescope observing, light pollution, and high-altitude ballooning. The workshop meets Monday through Friday from July 20 to August 7, with an application deadline of April 1. To learn about all of the opportunities for teens and to apply, visit the planetarium’s website.
Crystal Charitable Fund. Maybe you’ve got your own program in mind but wonder how to pay transportation costs. The Crystal Charitable Fund, through the Oak Park-River Forest Community Foundation, offers grants of up to $4,000 support extended cultural or educational experience for students away from home, even overseas. There’s no application deadline, but applications must be submitted at least six weeks before travel dates. Applications are limited to students 13-19 in the Chicago area from impoverished households and with good academic standards. To learn more about this fund and others from the OPRF Community Foundation, visit the group’s website.
Farther Foundation. Another organization that supplies funds for worldwide travel is the Farther Foundation. Grants of up to $5,000 are available to current sophomore, junior, and senior high school students in the Chicago area for program costs and travel expenses. Applications are due by March 31. To learn more, visit the group’s website.
UIC CHANCE Summer Institute. High school juniors can have a college experience at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The program consists of in-person and online workshops and other programs at the UIC campus, and introduces underrepresented high school students to the world of college. Access to CHANCE camps provides students with early entry into STEM-related and business careers. These camps are free of charge but are limited to a “first-come, first-served” basis. For more information, check out the CHANCE website.
Girls Who Code. Current sophomore and junior girls interested in computer technology can apply for a free seven-week introductory computer science course. Girls will learn computer science and get exposure to tech jobs. The Summer Immersion Program is held in cities across the country, including several sites in Chicago. The deadline of March 13 is fast approaching. Learn more at the group’s website.
After School Matters. Teens can apply for summer positions through After School Matters, which will offer programs in the arts, communications, science, sports, and technology. Positions will be available to current 8th-12th graders. Applications will soon be accepted at the group’s website, which also will have maps to show openings throughout the city.
One Summer Chicago. Teens at least 14 years old can apply for jobs through the city of Chicago’s summer employment program. Applications are now open for summer jobs, and all applications must be completed online; the application process will open in mid-March. Last summer, 70,000 youths applied for 32,000 jobs, and many received work experience with corporate and community employers. More information is available at the One Summer Chicago website.