Special Opportunities

Free or Very Affordable

Special opportunities come and go throughout the year.  We are defining "special" as free or very affordable.  These opportunities will first appear in the College and Career Center Newsletter and will remain on this page until they expire.

Remember: This information is provided for your convenience and perusal. Postings do not indicate endorsement or sponsorship by W.T. Woodson, FCPS, nor any administrator or employee of either W.T. Woodson or FCPS.  Parents need to check and be satisfied with any program chosen for their children.  This web page contains links to one or more web pages that are outside the FCPS network.  Neither W.T. Woodson High School nor FCPS controls the content or relevancy of these pages.


The American Youth Leadership Program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, offers opportunities for American high school students and educators to travel abroad on a three to four week exchange program to gain first-hand knowledge of foreign cultures and to collaborate on solving global issues.  Academic and experiential educational exchange programs focus on dialogue and debate, leadership development, and community service. Recruitment areas, eligibility requirements, and application deadlines vary by program, so please check http://exchanges.state.gov/us/program/youth-leadership-programs for more information.


22 – 26 June, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA– The Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Drexel University, in conjunction with the ASM International Philadelphia “Liberty Bell” Chapter invite rising Juniors and Seniors to this week-long, hands-on academic day camp designed to introduce participants to the field of materials science and engineering.  IMPORTANT NOTE: Although the camp itself has no cost, participants are responsible for their own housing and transportation.  A completed application must include a transcript, report card, up to two recommendations, and a personal statement (≥ 200 words).  For more information and to apply, visit https://drexel.edu/engineering/academics/high-school-programs/materials-camp/Completed applications must be received by 12 April.


The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory offers two mentorship programs for high school students: one during the summer and one during the academic year.  The summer session runs from June – August and participants must commit to at least 6 weeks spending at least 25 hours/week with the program.  Orientations for the academic year begin in September and the program begins in October.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens and have a 2.8 or better GPA.  Completed applications require a resume, transcript, a counselor form, two recommendations, and two 250-word essays.  Out-of-state applicants must provide proof of housing for this commuter program.  For more information and to apply, visit https://secwww.jhuapl.edu/stem/aspire/.  Applications for the summer session must be received by 15 February and received by 1 June for the academic year session.


22-27 June, Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center, Appomattox, VA - The Virginia Department of Forestry (VDOF) offers their Camp Woods & Wildlife (formerly Holiday Lake Forestry Camp) as another environmental opportunity for youth this summer. The six-day residential camp takes place at the Holiday Lake 4-H Education Center, where campers experience hands-on field-based learning about natural resources conservation and other environmental fields. Students interested in participating in this year's camp program must be nominated by any adult who knows them well and is not related to them. Eligible nominees are 13-16 years old, current Virginia residents, interested in natural resources and conservation, in good academic standing, and have not previously attended the program.  Following acceptance and registration fee payment of $85, all campers receive a scholarship that covers the cost of attending camp. VDOF is currently accepting 2020 nominations for attending Camp Woods & Wildlife.  For more information and the nomination form, visit http://www.dof.virginia.gov/forestry/camp/index.htm.  The deadline for submitting nomination forms is 10 April.


11-18 July, Carleton College, Northfield, Minnesota – The CLAE Program is a FREE week-long summer academic program for high school students who have just completed their sophomore year.  CLAE scholars experience the benefits of a liberal arts education through classes in science, art, social studies, and technology.  Students who have an interest in African American culture, especially students from the African diaspora, are encouraged to apply.  Throughout the week, CLAE Scholars will focus on the African American community and identity through the framework of a liberal arts education.  CLAE also includes preparation and guidance for the college search and application process.  CLAE scholars live in Carleton College campus dorms for the week, with opportunities to explore the town and the Twin Cities and participate in group activities.  All program activities are planned and fully funded by Carleton.  This includes paying for transportation to and from the campus and for all housing and dining costs while students participate in the program.  Visit https://www.carleton.edu/admissions/visit/clae/ for more program information.  The application must be completed online and include:  an application form, several short-answer essays, current high school transcript, and a recommendation from a teacher, counselor, or mentor.  Applicants will only be considered once they have completed their application and all of the supporting materials have been received.  To apply, go to www.admissions.carleton.edu/apply/Completed applications must be received by 10 April.


The new College Board Opportunity Scholarship provides students the chance to earn money for college for each action they take in the college planning process. Starting this December, students in the class of 2020 can earn funding for college by completing key steps along the path to college. Drawings determine who receives awards.  The information page has a video to help explain the program.


20-24 July, 2020, 9 am – 5 pm, George Mason University, Fairfax – The Conflict Resolution Youth Summit is a one-week long summer day program for 10th, 11th, and 12th grade students offered by the School for Conflict Analysis and Resolution at George Mason University.  Participants will explore some of today’s toughest problems through the lens of conflict analysis and resolution.  Students can expect to develop skills in leadership, problem-solving, effective communication, and cross-cultural awareness.  It includes interactive workshops, small group discussions, a field trip to area institutions, and an opportunity to meet and learn from faculty, as well as graduate and undergraduate students. The cost of the program is $400 which includes lunch, snacks, and fees/transportation costs for field trips.  Transportation to and from the summit and lodging are not provided.  Several needs-based scholarships are available.  Applications for scholarships will be available after acceptance to the program. A link to apply to the program can be found on the information page at https://scar.gmu.edu/research-impact/programs-and-projects/conflict-resolution-youth-summit.  Applicants will need to answer four short essay questions (max 150 words) when they register to apply including: 1) In what ways are you involved in your school or local community, and what have you learned about yourself through these experiences?  2) What issues do you see in your school, neighborhood, or community that you would like to help or have helped solve and why are these issues important to you?  3) Respond to one: a) Tell us something about yourself that you’d like us to know, or b) What have you read or watched recently that has impacted or changed how you see the world? 4) How did you hear about the Conflict Resolution Youth Summit?  What interests or career/academic goals do you have that make you a good fit for our program or make our program a good fit for you?  For more information, contact GMU at @email, @email or at 703.993.4165.


Fairfax County Fire and Rescue offers members of the explorer program the opportunity to serve their community, build leadership skills, and gain exposure to the fire and rescue service.  Post 1949 meets three times a week to conduct training in various aspects of the fire service.  After a short training session, explorers are permitted to accompany fire and rescue personnel to emergency incidents.  Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fire-ems/explorer-training


3-7 August, 9 am – 4 pm, FBI WFO, 601 4th St., NW, Washington, DC – The FBI’s Future Agents in Training program invites high school students for hands-on training that will help educate them about the mission of the FBI.  Trainees learn about the FBI’s criminal, counterterrorism, intelligence, and administrative responsibilities.  Trainees learn about investigative techniques that include gathering evidence, interviewing witnesses and working cases.  Applicants must be U.S. citizens, 16-18 years old, have a 3.0 or better GPA, and reside in DC or Northern Virginia.  A completed application must include information on foreign language skills, extracurriculars, and essays (~ 2000 characters each) (1) What are your personal, academic, and professional goals?  What do you hope to achieve from your experience in this program and what do you hope to contribute?  What makes YOU a unique candidate for FAIT?  (2) Describe a situation when you exemplified one of the FBI Core Values, which include: rigorous obedience to the Constitution of the United States, respect for the dignity of all those we protect, compassion, integrity, accountability/leadership... For more information and the application, visit https://www.fbi.gov/file-repository/fbi-wfo-2020-fait-application-020320.pdf/viewCompleted applications are due 31 March.


Explorer Post 1949 provides young men and women between the ages of 14 and 20 the opportunity to learn about a career in fire and rescue.  Participants also serve their community and build leadership skills.  The post meets three times each month to conduct training events on various aspects of the fire service.  Students are welcome to join at any time.  Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fire-ems/explorer-training to research the opportunity and learn how to join.


Thinking of visiting campuses far from home?  The Center for Student Opportunity provides a list of programs that often provide transportation to qualified students for special college visit programs.  Visit: http://hosted.verticalresponse.com/293966/68d3cb4f04/1384000618/ fd68e62f52/ to see the complete list.


12-16 July, Oklahoma City, OK – Four Star Leadership with General Tommy Franks is a leadership program developed as a partnership between the General Tommy Franks Leadership Institute and Museum and Oklahoma Christian University. The program focuses on ethical leadership crafted on a strong foundation of character, common vision, communication and caring.  Participants will be challenged with practical leadership and ethical scenarios and then asked to address them individually in a persuasive speech and writing competition as well as collaboratively in an Ethics Bowl competition.  The program includes team-building exercises, spontaneous problem solving, and coaching in persuasive speaking and writing. Four Star Leadership is FREE for selected students including roundtrip transportation to and from the program.  For more information and to apply, visit https://www.fourstarleader.com/The application deadline is 20 April.


Students who are more geared towards a hands-on type of career may be interested in an associates degree through NOVA’s automotive program in Alexandria.  Attend school for half of the semester while working with a porspective sponsor, earning money and gaining experience.  Rolling enrollment is available.  See www.nvcc.edu/alexandria/automotive/asep.htm for more information and to submit an application.


The Guided Pathway Support Program (GPS) helps African-American Juniors and Seniors navigate the path to top colleges by directing students to the most comprehensive and reliable resources available.  This FREE program, teaches students how to prepare for, apply to, pay for, thrive in, and graduate from college. GPS narrows the college access gap using telementoring through the GPS Workplace by Facebook community, direct interactions with admissions professionals, and exposure to successful peer role models.  GPS students are mentored and guided by Ron Brown Scholars and Captains.  As opposed to traditional mentoring programs, Ron Brown Scholars and Captains are similar in racial identity, age, income, and life experiences to meaningfully engage GPS students.  They have already successfully navigated college journeys from hardship into America’s top colleges and universities, graduate schools and corporations, and are eager to guide others.  For more information and to apply, visit http://www.rbsgps.com/Applications are now open and accepted on a rolling basis.


9 – 12 July, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA – The FREE Hispanic College Institute is for high achieving, academically curious Sophomores and Juniors living in Virginia with a 2.5 or better GPA.  To facilitate access, the application is in both English and Spanish.  A completed application must include personal and family information and two essays (≤ 250 words each) discussing: (1) Please tell us a story from your life, describing an experience or event that either demonstrates your character or helped to shape it. You may discuss any experience/event from your personal life, extracurriculars, etc. It also does not need to be from your high school years as long as it is relevant and answers the question.  And (2) Please indicate why you should be selected for this program.  Visit  https://vt.edu/admissions/forms/hispanic-college-institute-2020-registration.html?utm_source=slate_redir&utm_medium=registration&utm_campaign=oua_hci_2020 for more information and to apply.  Completed applications are due 6 April.


7-12 July, Tickle College of Engineering, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN - HITES12 is a residential program for rising high school Seniors. The program provides students who show an interest in engineering studies early exposure to and preparation for scientific study and research.  Participants will learn about majors in UT engineering, tour engineering labs and facilities, attend college life preparation seminars, cultivate new friendships, attend engineering lectures, and participate in engineering lab experiments. Applicants must have a “B” average in both math and science and a ≥ 25 ACT math score or a ≥ 590 SAT math score to be eligible.  There is a non-refundable processing fee of $75.00 if selected to attend. There are no other costs to attend; however, a parent/guardian must provide round trip transportation and attend orientation and a closing awards ceremony. Students selected to participate in the HITES12 program will receive a full scholarship, which covers program fees, housing, all meals, and supplies. A completed application must include math/science reference forms, essay statement, a copy of their ACT or SAT test scores, and a copy of their current report card or transcript.  For more information and to apply, visit https://tickle.utk.edu/diversity/pre-college/hites12/hites12-faq/. The application deadline is 10 April.

ITALIAN - ONLINE COURSE IN AP ITALIAN LANGUAGE AND CULTURE – Wellesley College offers a FREE online course on the edX platform.  This could provide a study option for the May AP test.  Students can register for free and have instant access anytime to all online materials for self-study.  (Although the basic course is entirely free, there are classes with teachers to assist in the online culture course FOR AN ADDITIONAL FEE.  To access the free online culture course, visit https://www.edx.org/course/ap-italian-language-and-culture-2018-2019?utm_source=School+Counselors&utm_campaign=eef11958e0-AP+Italian+counselors+EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2017_11_02_CO&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_7d8bcaa4e2-eef11958e0-231525865.  For questions, contact @email.


27-31 July, JA Finance Park, 4099 Pickett Road, Fairfax, VA - The JA Entrepreneurship Summit is an intensive, five-day “startup boot camp” where high school students are challenged to design ready-to-launch, socially-conscious businesses, leveraging the support of a real-world company partner. The experience culminates in a pitch competition to a panel of esteemed business leaders.  Robust content, mini-seminars and team-building activities, supported by committed business leaders and trained volunteer mentors, develops both technical and soft skills.  Rising Freshmen through Seniors are eligible to participate.  Registration is $175 through 31 March and $225 from 1 April to 15 May.  Additional opportunities to lower registration costs are available at https://www.myja.org/tuition-dollars-program.  For more information and to register, visit https://www.myja.org/entrepreneurshipsummit/learnmore/.


Khan Academy offers great opportunities to learn from Pixar and computer programming.  Visit https://khanacademy.org; search for “Pixar” to discover how to write a short story as well as hints on animation.  Search for “computer programming” to learn more from the pros.  Not only does Khan Academy offer advice from these pros, it offers FREE tutoring in virtually every subject.


24/7 online tutoring and homework help free for U.S. Military families.  Students connect with a professional tutor for a one-to-one learning session the moment they need help.  Get help with math, science, English, social studies and standardized tests from the secure online classroom, with real-time chat, and an interactive whiteboard.  Visit www.tutor.com/military   or call 800.411.1970 for more information.

OLAB (Opportunities to Learn about Business)

12-18 July, Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN – OLAB is a one-week, hands-on introduction to business and the market economy for rising Seniors.  During the week, participants will learn from presentations by business professionals and Wabash College faculty, run a mock business, and compete against other teams that are selling a similar product. Participants will make business decisions like how many products to produce, how to market them, how much to sell them for, and how much to pay your employees. There are social activities every night, including movies, dances, and a talent show. During the day there is recreation time and all Wabash facilities are available for use.  This program is FREE, and the only cost is transportation to the program.  For more information and to apply, visit https://www.wabash.edu/olab/The application deadline is 17 April.


Local Police Explorer Posts offer program application only in the fall.  Interest meetings have been scheduled.  If you want to gain some real police experience and learn about careers in law enforcement, this may be for you.  Applicants must be between 14 (and completed 8th grade) and 20 years old, have a “C” grade average and no convictions of a felony or serious misdemeanor.  (Past criminal activity will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.)  Participants are expected to attend mandatory meetings, training, and community outreach events, participate in fund raising events, and be able to purchase necessary equipment and uniforms (effort is made to keep costs low).  Regular meetings are held twice a month.  Post 1742 meets at the Fairfax County Criminal Justice Academy, Post 2252 meets at West Potomac High School, and Post 505 meets at Annandale High School.  Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/getinvolved/explorers for more information and links to each post.


13-17 July or 20-24 July, 8 am – 4:30 pm, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD – The mission of S2M2 is to encourage, nurture, and enhance a commitment to service and medicine in a welcoming and intellectually stimulating environment for a diverse population of high school students.  The program seeks to develop leadership and teaching skills and provide long-term mentoring and learning opportunities to prospective USU students and others interested in pursuing a career in military science or medicine.  Activities include research techniques, physician shadowing, and learning about medical technology.  Applicants must be rising 10-12 graders in good academic standing, have completed a high school-level science course, have demonstrated scholastic achievement, and have an interest in science, medicine, and leadership.  The 5-day program is FREE.  For more information and to apply, visit https://www.usuhs.edu/medschool/diversity/s2m2The application deadline is 10 April.


The US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs provides more than 1,000 merit-based scholarships each year for U.S. high school students to study abroad for a summer or an academic year in more than 25 countries.  Three are accepting applications now:  Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX); Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study Abroad; National Security Language Initiative for Youth.  For more information, visit https://exchanges.state.gov/highschool/?utm_source=Email_Outreach&utm_medium=Email_April_29&utm_campaign=Outbound%20Outreach.


29 June – 7 August, Washington, DC – The Student Conservation Association’s 2020 DC Summer Conservation Program will have crews of high school members, aged 15-19, working in parks throughout the D.C. Metro Area. The crews will work Monday through Friday each week during the summer program in local parks (Rock Creek Park, Greenbelt Park, Fort DuPont Park and more) doing hands-on trail work, obtain valuable work-skills and green job training, and participate in a week long, all expenses paid, recreation trip.  Members of the 2020 summer program will receive a gear package at the beginning of summer, work full-time, and earn $330/week or earn community service hours (35 hrs/wk).   If accepted into the program you MUST be available for the ENTIRE program.  For more information and to apply, visit https://www.thesca.org/serve/program/washington-dc#clcCompleted applications are due 1 May.


The U.S. Department of State sponsors a number of exchange programs. Discover what options exist and what is required. Then, check frequently to discover when a program you want opens. Go to http://exchanges.state.gov/us to discover everything you need to know.

U.S. SERVICE ACADEMY SUMMER SESSION PROGRAMS These programs have a fee but are excellent windows into academy life.  Juniors who are considering an academy should consider applying to the appropriate summer program.


One-week sessions available 15 June-10 August, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research and Montgomery College, Silver Spring, MD – The WRAIR GEMS program offers middle and high school students a platform to engage in hands-on STEM activities that are designed to stimulate inquiry-based thinking, scientific skills, and an interest in STEM careers.  There is no cost to participate in any of the programs. Rising 7th – 12th graders will have the opportunity to explore STEM in a sophisticated laboratory setting and learn about STEM careers under the guidance of college-level mentors called Near-Peer Mentors (NPMs).  Biomedical and Engineering GEMS programs will be offered at Beginning (7th-8th grade), Intermediate (9th-10th grade), and Advanced (11th-12th grade) levels.  In Biomedical GEMS, students will explore science through hands-on activities, simulations, computer applications, and classic laboratory experiments with model invertebrates such as cockroaches, fruit flies and planaria. Modules cover a variety of topics including physiology, neurobiology, materials science, microbial interactions, drug effects, animal behavior, and climate science. Students gain practice in using the scientific method, designing experiments, recording data and forming conclusions based on their data.  The Engineering GEMS curriculum is designed to expand students’ perception of engineering beyond “building things” and to encourage students to use problem-solving skills to solve real-world problems. Using lessons, design challenges, and real-world scenarios, students are immersed in a complete engineering environment and experience the full engineering design process. Upon completion, students are eligible to receive a stipend of $125.  Visit https://www.usaeop.com/program/silverspring/ to learn more about GEMS and to apply.  Completed applications are due 15 April.


Year Up’s mission is to close the Opportunity Divide by ensuring that young adults gain the skills, experiences, and support that will empower them to reach their potential through careers and higher education. This mission is achieved through a high support, high expectation model that combines marketable job skills, stipends, internships, and college credits.  The one-year program includes:  six months professional training in IT, Financial Operations, Sales & Customer Support, Business Operations, or Software Development; six months corporate internship with a respected company, coursework eligible for college credit, weekly educational stipend throughout the program, and guidance/support from a staff advisor and professional mentor.  Ninety percent of Year Up graduates are employed and/or enrolled in postsecondary education within four months of completing the program.  To be eligible, applicants must be: 18-24 years old; high school graduates or GED recipients; of low to moderate income; a U.S. Citizen, permanent resident, or have an employment authorization card; available 5 days a week (Mon-Fri) for the full year of the program; be highly motivated to learn new technical and professional skills; and have not obtained a bachelor’s degree. To learn more about the application process, visit https://www.yearup.org/future-students/admission-process/. The steps to apply include:  attending an information session, completing an application, undergoing an academic review, attending an interview, and enrolling in college.  Applications are considered on a rolling basis until the class is filled.  Classes begin in September for the fall, and in February for the spring. If you are interested in applying, fill out an interest form online at https://www.yearup.org/seize-opportunity/


12-18 July, Blacksburg, VA - The Virginia Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts sponsors this week-long summer conservation camp in July for Virginia high school students on the campus of Virginia Tech. The program brings together 70 interested students for a week of learning about Virginia's natural resources from hands-on experience with conservation professionals and faculty from Virginia Tech. Youth Conservation Camp is a selective program and interested students must send their application to their local Soil and Water Conservation District.  The Northern Virginia Soil and Water Conservation District receives applications, makes selections and offers a partial scholarship of $275 to two students who will attend Youth Conservation Camp. The total cost of the camp is $550 which includes meals, lodging, activities, and transportation during camp.  Students are responsible for obtaining their own means of transportation to and from Virginia Tech from their homes.  For more information and the application, visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/soil-water-conservation/youth-conservation-campThe application deadline is 22 April.