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3 Exciting 2021 Summer Science Programs for SoCal High Schoolers

With college admissions as competitive as they are, the question my fellow tutors and I hear so often from students is “What can I do to stand out?” Well, one surefire way to set yourself apart from the pack is by taking the initiative and pursuing your academic interests outside of school. Participating in a summer program hosted by a university or research center is a great way to do this. It’s also a great way to network with professionals, get hands-on experience, meet new friends, and (sometimes) even earn some money!

If you’re interested in pursuing a career in science one day, there are a ton of interesting summer programs out there to choose from. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, many of these opportunities have been put on hold until 2022. Others, however, plan to move forward with their programs, adapting them as conditions change. Read on to learn more about 3 awesome opportunities for SoCal high schoolers who have a passion for science.

Not to be confused with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Scripps Research is the largest private, non-profit biomedical research organization in the United States and among the largest in the world. Founded almost a century ago, the institute continues to make groundbreaking discoveries and is currently on the cutting edge of COVID-19 research.

Scripps Research’s CA High School Internship Program offers a select number of local students the opportunity to experience hands-on lab experience and world-class mentorship in the beautiful seaside neighborhood of La Jolla. In addition to providing students with a once-in-a-lifetime chance to assist in professional research during high school, the program also pays students $12.50 per hour for their work.

Basic Eligibility Requirements (Additional Details on Scripps Website)

  • Be a San Diego County resident and have completed their most recent semester of high school at a public or private high school within San Diego County;

  • Be at least 16 years of age on or before June 21, 2021;

  • Have successfully completed at least one year each of high school-level chemistry and biology;

  • Have a minimum grade point average of 3.0;

  • Commit to 40 hours/week for the duration of the program;

Program Dates

June 21 to August 13, 2021*

*Dates could be adjusted at a later date and some components could take place virtually.

Application Deadline

According to the website, “Details regarding the application period for the 2021 summer program will be announced by the end of January.”

Salk Institute was founded by none other than Jonas Salk, the inventor of the first safe and effective polio vaccine, in 1963. Coincidentally, this biomedical research facility is also located in La Jolla; this is because Charles Dail, then-mayor of San Diego and a polio survivor himself, lobbied Salk to establish his institute locally.

The Salk Institute usually offers their Heithoff-Brody High School Summer Scholars Program, a paid internship in which students work side-by-side with Salk researchers and have the opportunity to present their findings. Because this year isn’t like other years, however, they will instead be holding a robust virtual program that includes “scientific readings, data analysis, science presentation delivery and virtual lab simulations” to help prepare students for careers in science.

Basic Eligibility Requirements (Additional Details on Salk Website)

  • Must be a US resident enrolled in high school during the 2021 academic year

Program Dates

June 28 to July 30, with additional presentation slots August 27 to 31

Application Deadline

The website states, “A link to the opt-in form will be available on this website in mid-January. Opt-in requests will be used to select participants by lottery.” No link has been provided yet at the time of writing this blog.

Founded by late neurobiochemistry pioneer Dr. Eugene Roberts and his wife, Ruth, City of Hope’s Summer Student Academy offers high school students and undergraduates the opportunity to pursue research projects of their choice and work as a full-time member of a biomedical research team over the course of 10 weeks. This one is also paid: most summer students receive a stipend of $4,000 for their work!

Basic Eligibility Requirements (Additional details on City of Hope website)

  • Applicants must be at least 16 years old before their internship begins.

  • Applicants must be high school or undergraduate students.

  • Students should have completed high school courses in chemistry and biology.

Internship Dates

Because of the evolving COVID-19 situation, program directors are unsure of whether or not this year’s internships will be held in-person or virtually. This is likely the reason why exact program dates have not been released. I suggest checking the website periodically for updates.

Application Deadline

Applicants must complete the online application by March 17, 2021.

If you’re considering applying to one of these exciting and selective programs, let the experts at ThinquePrep help you make sure you’re putting your best foot forward in your application materials.

If you're not ready to participate in one of these programs quite yet, stay tuned for more blog posts featuring other awesome opportunities for local students.


Nina Calabretta is a college English instructor, tutor, and writer native to Orange County, CA. When she’s not writing or helping students improve their skills as readers, writers, and critical thinkers, she can be found hiking the local trails with friends and family or curled up with a good book and her cat, Betsy. She has been part of the ThinquePrep team since 2018.

With offices located in beautiful Orange County, ThinquePrep specializes in the personalized mentorship of students and their families through the entire college preparation process and beyond. With many recent changes to college admissions - standardized tests, financial aid, varied admissions processes - the educational landscape has never been more competitive or confusing. We’re here from the first summer program to the last college acceptance letter. It’s never too early to start thinking about your student’s future, so schedule your complimentary consultation today!

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