Notable Pre-College Programs in Political Science

January 11, 2024

In a world in which the dynamics of politics shape the very fabric of societies, an understanding of political science is crucial. For high school students with a passion for politics, delving into pre-college programs that offer a glimpse into the intricacies of governance, international relations, and civic engagement can be a transformative experience. In this blog post, we discuss some of the best pre-college political science programs, designed to not only expand intellectual horizons but also kindle the flames of leadership in the next generation of changemakers.

At AtomicMind, we have years of experience helping students find and apply to pre-college political science programs that reflect their goals and passions. Feel free to contact us for a free consultation.

Emerson College - Politics, Activism, and Leadership Institute

Emerson's on-campus Politics, Activism, and Leadership Institute (PAL) caters to high school students aiming to grasp the pivotal role of communication in politics, activism, and leadership within a democratic society. The program delves into diverse issues like community activism, social justice, civic engagement, public service, scandal/crisis management, speechwriting, grassroots organizing, and media communication. Additionally, topics like the role of law in advocacy, implicit and explicit bias, global storytelling, focus group research, intercultural politics, and political journalism are explored, as is the influence of social media. PAL participants embark on virtual and in-person field trips to historical sites such as the USS Constitution, the Black Heritage Trail, and the Freedom Trail. Throughout the three weeks, emphasis will be placed on developing advocacy and communication skills, encouraging participants to find their voice and become active agents in their communities.

Oxford Royale Academy: Racing Extinction: Climate, Politics, and Global Leadership

This program delves into the intersections of politics, climate science, law, and leadership, showcasing how these fields can work together to combat existential threats to society. Participants explore political science, climate science, and international affairs through engaging speakers and compelling case studies, aiming to tackle the major challenges of their generation. Throughout the course, participants refine leadership styles, enhance public speaking and debating skills, and deepen their understanding of emerging global issues like climate change, natural resources, wildlife conservation, and global leadership. The curriculum also investigates the roles of national governments and international agencies like the United Nations, providing insight into potential career pathways in climate science, politics, law, and wildlife conservation. Participants emerge from the course with an enriched network of future global leaders and strengthened critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity skills.

UCLA Political Science Summer Institute

The UCLA Political Science Summer Institute is a comprehensive three-week program designed to provide students with an immersive introduction to American politics. The curriculum includes foundational coursework along with a career panel featuring guest speakers who share insights into potential career paths for political science graduates. The course aims to equip students with essential knowledge about the underlying logic of the political landscape and an understanding of how social scientists approach the study of the world. Participants benefit from mentorship opportunities, gaining insights into the extensive impact of political thought and influence in society. Given the intensive nature of the institute, residing in on-campus housing is mandatory, ensuring a focused, immersive learning experience.

University of Rochester - U.S. Healthcare Politics, Problems, and Possibilities

This course provides a comprehensive examination of various insurance types, including employer-sponsored plans, Medicare, Medicaid, private plans, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Participants explore the complex politics surrounding healthcare reform and understand why it remains a cultural flashpoint. Through short essay assignments, interactions with industry experts, and the opportunity to design a healthcare plan, participants gain a nuanced understanding of the subject. The skills acquired in this course encompass a thorough knowledge of U.S. healthcare, insights into key political issues, an understanding of coverage preferences among diverse social groups, the ability to articulate viewpoints on healthcare reforms, and the development of effective presentation and communication skills.

Harvard Debate Council Summer Workshops – Congressional Debate/Student Congress/Model Congress

This unique workshop mirrors the legislative process within a democratic society, providing students with essential skills for both competitive Congressional Debate/Student Congress and Model Congress. The innovative, enjoyable, secure atmosphere encourages students to realize their potential with guidance from experienced classroom teachers. The layer-in skills approach ensures systematic mastery, supplemented by reflective learning and personalized goal-setting. Leveraging extensive technology, including video capture for practice speeches, individualized attention, and personal development, the program imparts knowledge, builds skills, and encourages leadership over mere competitiveness. Through this comprehensive approach, students gain a well-rounded understanding of the lawmaking process and develop the skills and attitudes necessary for success in Congressional Debate and Model Congress.

John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum Profiles in Courage Essay Contest

The John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum Profiles in Courage Essay Contest is an annual competition that encourages high school students from across the United States to write an essay on a political leader who has demonstrated courage in the face of challenging circumstances. The contest is named after President John F. Kennedy's Pulitzer Prize-winning book Profiles in Courage, which describes the bravery of eight United States senators. Participants are required to analyze and discuss the actions of a contemporary or historical figure, detailing how their leadership displayed political courage. The contest aims to promote awareness of political courage and its importance in public service.

Junior State of America - Stern Civics Immersion Program

JSA summer programs provide high school students with immersive learning experiences, exposing them to college-level curricula, collaborative projects, and activism opportunities that offer a distinctive perspective on critical issues in America. The Civics Immersion Program specifically aims to engage participants in addressing pressing challenges within democracy, emphasizing solution-oriented action and collaboration. Students gain insights directly from decision-makers shaping public policy, applying these lessons to generate ideas for impactful action in their communities. The program equips students with the skills to actively participate in government at various levels, engage in civil conversations with diverse perspectives, demonstrate effective twenty-first-century leadership, and address current and future political, economic, and social issues. Course offerings include topics such as Campaigns & Elections, Global Poverty, Inequality & Justice, Global Conflict, Democracy & Social Media, and Argumentation & Use of Evidence, each facilitated by experienced professionals in the respective fields.

Model United Nations Summer Camps

Model United Nations (MUN) offers students a dynamic experience as they play the role of world leaders collaborating to address global challenges. Participants, representing different countries, immerse themselves in the intricacies of international diplomacy, honing their research skills, practicing public speaking, and enjoying an engaging learning environment. The program not only fosters a deep understanding of real-world global issues but also cultivates confidence in public speaking and enhances debate skills. With both remote and in-person options for residential and commuter students, MUN provides a flexible, accessible platform for young people to develop into confident student leaders. The skills acquired in MUN not only contribute to success in academic settings but also prepare students for future endeavors, including college, internships, and careers.

U.S. Senate - Senate Page Internship

Since the early nineteenth century, the United States Senate has enlisted high school students as pages to aid senators in the Chamber. Initially, these pages included relatives of Senate employees, some as young as nine years old. Present-day pages, appointed and sponsored by a senator, must be high school juniors at least sixteen years old. The primary responsibilities of Senate pages involve the delivery of correspondence and legislative material within the Capitol complex, along with tasks such as preparing the Chamber for Senate sessions and transporting bills and amendments to the desk. The academic year comprises two semesters—one from early September to mid-January and one from mid-January to mid-June—during which pages attend morning classes at the United States Senate Page School, a program accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. Additionally, contingent on the legislative calendar, there are summer programs consisting of three- or four-week sessions.

University of Chicago Summer Session - Justice, the State, and the Individual

This course delves into crucial topics in political thought, exploring questions surrounding the nature of justice, the relationship between justice, morality, law, and social conventions, and how individuals and political communities interact. Additionally, the course investigates the basis for the legitimacy of political authority. The exploration of these fundamental inquiries is facilitated through the study of seminal works in political thought, spanning from ancient Athens with Plato to the late Roman era featuring Augustine, and extending to revolutionary modes of thought proposed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Nietzsche.