Great Summer Creative Writing Programs for High School Students

Immersive Summer Programs for Budding Writers

Sarah Lawrence College
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Summer is a terrific time for aspiring writers to focus on creative writing. Immersive programs give high schoolers the opportunity to develop writing skills, meet like-minded students, and gain an impressive line on their activities resumé. This list of excellent summer creative writing programs for high school students may offer just what the budding writers in your family need to make the most of their talents.

Emerson College Creative Writers Workshop

Emerson College
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Emerson’s Creative Writers Workshop is a five-week program for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors geared at developing their writing skills in a variety of media, including fiction, poetry, screenwriting, graphic novels, and magazine writing. Participants attend college-level writing classes exploring these genres in which they write and present their own work, create a final portfolio of their writing, contribute to the workshop’s anthology, and present a reading for family and friends. On-campus housing is available for the duration of the workshop.

Alfred University Creative Writing Camp

The Steinheim at Alfred University
The Steinheim at Alfred University. Allen Grove

This summer writing program introduces rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors to many different genres, including poetry, short fiction, creative non-fiction, and drama. Students read and discuss the work of established authors and participate in writing-intensive exercises and workshop sessions led by Alfred University faculty members. Campers stay in university housing and enjoy a variety of recreational activities outside of classes and workshops such as movie nights, games, and social gatherings. The program runs annually for five days at the end of June.

Sarah Lawrence College Summer Writers Workshop for High School Students

Rothschild, Garrison, and Taylor Residence Halls (left to right) at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY
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This program is a one-week, non-residential summer workshop for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors that explores the process of creative writing in a non-competitive, non-judgmental environment. Participants have the opportunity to attend small writing and theater workshops led by faculty and guest writers and theater artists, as well as attend and participate in readings. Classes are limited to 15 students with three faculty leaders per workshop to provide individual attention for each student.

Sewanee Young Writers Conference

McClurg Hall at Sewanee: The University of the South
McClurg Hall at Sewanee: The University of the South. Rex Hammock / Flickr

This two-week residential program offered by The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, provides dedicated rising high school sophomore, junior, and senior creative writers an opportunity to develop and polish their writing skills. The conference includes workshops in playwriting, fiction, poetry, and creative non-fiction led by celebrated professional writers as well as visiting writers whose works students analyze and discuss. Participants select one writing genre and spend their two weeks attending a small workshop dedicated to that genre, with opportunities for one-on-one contact with workshop leaders. Students also participate in lectures, readings, and discussions.

Emerging Writers Institute Creative Writing Camp

Yale University

Allen Grove

Education Unlimited offers the Emerging Writers Institute creative writing camp each summer at Yale University, Stanford University, and UC Berkeley. This two-week residential program for rising 10th-12th graders includes daily workshops, evaluations, peer editing groups, and creative presentations designed to encourage students to challenge themselves as writers and hone their expressive writing process.

Each student chooses to major in the writing of either short stories, poetry, playwriting, or nonfiction. The bulk of their critical reading and writing exercises and workshopping is devoted to their selected major. Students may also attend afternoon workshops on nontraditional genres such as speechwriting, graphic novels, and advertising copy, as well as guest presentations by local authors and publishers.

Iowa Young Writers' Studio

Old Capitol at the University of Iowa
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The University of Iowa offers this two-week summer creative writing program for rising juniors, seniors, and college freshmen. Students choose one of three core courses in poetry, fiction, or creative writing (a more general course sampling from poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction). Within their course, they participate in seminar classes in which they read and analyze literary selections and workshops to create, share, and discuss their own writing. Also offered are large group writing exercises, inspirational outdoor writing excursions, and nightly readings by prominent published writers. Many of the program's teachers and counselors are graduates of the university's Iowa Writers' Workshop, one of the most prestigious creative writing graduate programs in the country.