Do you know of any good programs outside of school?

This is one of the most common questions we receive from students and parents. Our FIRST answer is always for current 10th and 11th graders to consider the Virginia Summer Residential Governor's School (SRGS) programs for Academics or Arts because they provide opportunities for enrichment and acceleration with the top students in the state at a college-like setting. Admissions for these programs are rigorous but the cost for the participant is limited to a program-specific activity fee that ranges from $30-175. We recommend looking only at our websites to the left of this page and at the PWCS website for SRGS. Contact Mr. Watkins or Mr. Bredbenner for school specific application process information, materials and due dates. (
There is also the VDOE's official website for Governor's Schools, which has a wealth of info - but please don't use any application materials found there.)

Separate from "Gov School," but with many similar benefits, the Governor's Foreign Language Academies are also excellent, inexpensive opportunities for elite VA students. Basic info and the link for FLA are also available on the right side of the VDOE's official Governor's School page as explained above.

For students who are looking for other programs, we will provide links here to the programs that come to our attention, along with known admissions deadlines. If you have feedback about one of these programs, notice a problem with the listed information, or would like to suggest a program that is not listed, please contact Mr. Bredbenner.

SATURDAY PROGRAMS (Many with Virtual Offerings)

Did you know that there are special Saturday programs offered for gifted students during the school year by the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia? Check to see if they are virtual or in-person:

W&M's Saturday Enrichment Program has a variety of opportunities which are updated each semester. Look early to be sure to meet application deadlines.

The SEP at UVA is usually for students in elementary school, but many of their programs have been shifted to older age groups since 2020.

General Lists of Summer Programs

The Virginia Association for the Gifted publishes an annual list of summer enrichment opportunities in the state and also maintains a Summer Opportunities page with links to that list and many other Resources for Students.

The College Lists Wiki for Summer Programs - General has a large list of databases and links.

Hoagies Gifted website's list of Virginia Summer Programs has some familiar and some more obscure options.

Miscellaneous and Non-College Programs

Boys State
for rising seniors is one of the oldest and most established programs for young leaders.

Girls State is a fantastic chance for young ladies going into their senior year to learn about governance and politics.

Fauquier Health Medical Camp
In the past, Fauquier Hospital in Warrenton, Va has offered popular 2-day
summer medical camps to area teens interested in learning more about a career in medicine. Experiences may include hands on simulations of surgical procedures and emergency care. The most recent information we have seen was when the 2020 camps were cancelled but you can look for an update by searching at the top of the Fauquier Health page for "Camp" to see if anything has changed.

In association with
NASA, the Virginia Space Grant Consortium has multiple incredible programs for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math. There are multiple programs on the link above, but we know that Forest Park students have participated in and loved:

Virginia Aerospace Science and Technologies Scholars (VASTS) for Juniors and Seniors: The highest performers from a series of online training modules are invited to a one-week on-site program at NASA Langley! Past programs have centered around planning and presenting a Mars Landing Mission. Typical Application deadline: October

Virginia Earth System Science Scholars (VESSS) for 11th and 12th graders features "NASA scientific research and data." Students may be able to earn up to 5 dual enrollment college credits and can be selected to attend a summer academy program at NASA Langley Research Center. Typical Application deadline: October

Virginia Space Coast Scholars (VSCS) is a free program for 10th grade students with two parts: the strongest participants in a 5-module online class that begins in November will be selected to an participate in on-site summer experience at NASA Wallops Flight Facility on Virginia's Eastern Shore! Typical Application Deadline: October

The Building Leaders for Advancing Science and Technology (BLAST) is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, ODU, UVA, VT and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Hosted by the universities listed, these are 3 day residential programs open to current 8th and 9th graders with "at least a C+ average and a desire to explore STEM opportunities." Applications usually become available in November and are due in February. And it's free!

If those weren't enough STEM options, NASA's Robotics Alliance Project keeps a list of engineering and Robotics Summer Camps. Still want more? See all of the possibilities at the NASA Education List of All Student Grades K-12 and Higher Education Projects.


Local or Noteworthy College-Based Summer Programs

James Madison University Summer Honors Institute
Registration Deadline: Mid May
Program Dates: Two separate one-week sessions in early-mid July at the JMU campus
For rising juniors or seniors
Cost: $1000, partial scholarships may be available for those with demonstrated need

College of William and Mary School of Education Summer Enrichment Programs
Registration Deadline: near the end of May
Program Dates: Multiple one-week sessions, morning or afternoon classes in Williamsburg, Richmond, or Washington, DC
For rising freshmen and sophomores
Cost: about $400 per class per session

University of Virginia Curry School of Education Summer Enrichment Programs
Application Deadline: mid-February
Program Dates: 2-week sessions in Late June, Early July, or Late July
Cost: $1490 as of 2020. Financial Aid is available.

George Mason University College of Science Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program
This is a mentored research internship program utilizing facilities at GMU. A chance to do "real" scientific research.
Application Deadline: mid-February
Program Dates: late June to mid-August, 5 days a week
Cost: free


George Mason University Fairfax Campus
Northern Virginia Writing Project - Student Summer Institute
Application Deadline: Late March
Program Dates: typically mid-July Mon-Fri 9:00 AM- 1:00 PM
Cost: approx. $480 for rising grades 5-10, approx. $530 Rising grades 11-12 (w overnight and extra activities) There are also 1-day, small-group writing workshops during the school year in Feb, March and April!

Virginia Tech Pathways for Future Engineers
An amazing opportunity for 1st generation college students that begins during high school and continues into college for VT students.

Summer Programs at United States Service Academies

Just up the road in Annapolis, MD, the US Naval Academy has a few different USNA Summer Programs. There are one week programs for STEM (rising 9th-11th graders) and the Seminar for rising 12th graders planning to apply to the USNA as seniors.
Application Deadline: Late March for Seminar, probably the same for STEM
Program Dates: Three different one week sessions in June.
Cost: $600 for STEM, $550 for Seminar

The US Military Academy at West Point, NY has the similar Summer Leaders Experience for highly motivated and qualified juniors interested in pursuing appointment at the USMA.
Cost is $400. Applications open in January.

The US Coast Guard Academy in New London, CT has the AIM Summer Program for those who may be cut out for life as a cadet.
Application opens in Feb and closes April 1. Tuition is $525.

If you can get out to Colorado Springs, CO, the US Air Force Academy runs its version too: the Summer Seminar.
Application window is Dec 1 - Jan 15 and the cost is around $300.

Other College Based Programs

Indiana University of Pennsylvania Honors College
Summer Honors Program for High School Students
Deadline for application: usually mid-April
Program Dates: usually mid-July in Indiana, PA
For rising juniors and seniors ("and the exceptional rising sophomore")
Cost: $250 (all admitted students get a $1000 scholarship!) when last viewed

Questbridge College Prep Scholars Program - "A pathway to top colleges for outstanding low-income high school juniors." The College Prep Scholars Program is directly connected to a program associated with many of the very top US colleges and universities and offers an extraordinary opportunity for students with limited means.
Application Window: Opens in February and closes in late March
Eligibility: Unweighted GPA 3.5 or higher in most challenging courses offered; lower income (<$65,000 annually for a family of four); current junior
Cost: Low to none as the program provides many students with Full Scholarships to summer programs and much more.