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.


19 - 24 June, Washington, DC (exact location TBD) – One Junior from each state and the District of Columbia will be selected for this 5-day all-expenses-paid conference.  Applicants must be committed to pursuing a career in journalism and have a “free spirit.”  A completed application must include a color head shot, transcript, two recommendations (from a journalism/media advisor, principal, counselor, teacher or other mentor), three journalistic samples, and two essays (500 words each) discussing (1) why they want to pursue a career in journalism; and (2) what characteristics make them a “free spirit.”   For more information and to apply, visit https://www.freedomforuminstitute.org/initiatives/al-neuharth-free-spirit-and-journalism-conference/about/Completed applications are due 1 February.


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.


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.


28 June – 1 July 2020 at Old Dominion University, 5-8 July at Virginia Tech, and 12-15 July at University of Virginia  – This is a FREE statewide STEM program for current 8th and 9th grade students.  It targets students with a C+ or better average and a desire to explore STEM opportunities.  Students will have an opportunity to engage in innovative, hands-on activities while residing on a university campus.  The BLAST program is a partnership between the Virginia Space Grant Consortium, and the universities housing the program.  Students may apply to one of three sessions.  For program information and application, visit https://blast.spacegrant.org/.  The application period closes 10 February 2020. 


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.


21 June – 16 July 2020, Calvin University, Grand Rapids, MI – The Entrada Scholars Program is an opportunity for underrepresented Juniors and Seniors with a B or better average to experience life as a college student.  Seniors must be planning to enroll at Calvin in the fall. Students participate in a summer-term class earning full college credit, live in one of seven residence halls, and participate in small, faith-infused classes, devotions, and community building activities.  All students accepted into the Entrada Scholars Program will receive a grant valued at more than $4,200 which covers all Entrada costs including tuition, room and board, books, and activities.  Participants are expected to cover transportation to and from Grand Rapids as well as a $750 fee to confirm enrollment.  Students who successfully complete the program are awarded a $4,000 Entrada Scholarship for each year they attend Calvin for up to five years.  For more information and to apply, visit https://calvin.edu/offices-services/college-access-programs/programs/entrada/?dotcmsredir=1&dotcmsredir=1.  Completed applications are due 3 February 2020.


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


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.


20 January - C2 Education of Fairfax will provide free practice testing for the three common tests students take: ACT, SAT, and PSAT.  Participants will receive a free review of their practice tests.  Interested students need to register at https://www.c2educate.com/go/mlk-day/.


Inspiring Girls Expeditions is accepting applications for their free wilderness expedition science program.  There are eight expeditions from which to choose.  On each trip a small team of girls will spend up to 12 days exploring and learning through scientific field studies with professionals.  Although transportation to the program site is not covered, financial assistance may be available.  Applicants must register to get all of the requirements and details.  For more information and the registration/application link, visit https://www.amightygirl.com/blog?p=22256  Completed applications are due 31 January 2020.


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.


25-30 July 2020, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY – This program is for deaf and hard-of-hearing students entering 10th, 11th, or 12th grade in fall 2020.  Participants will learn about various careers in health care, be part of hands-on demonstrations in biology, exercise science, medical laboratory science, nursing, and more, and become CPR/first aid certified.  Program classes are taught in English and in sign language.  The cost is $700 and includes campus housing and food.  Limited scholarships are available based on financial need.  For more information and to register, visit https://apps.ntid.rit.edu/Apply/index.php?program=healthcarecareersexplorationcampThe registration deadline is 15 May 2020.


The Youth Leadership Institute is a FREE, four-day, overnight, college empowerment conference for 150 Latino high school Juniors.  It is designed to give these young leaders the practical tools they need to successfully apply to top universities, have full access to scholarship and financial aid opportunities, and set a course for academic and career success.  Attendees will enhance their leadership abilities and expand their professional networks by participating in college and career workshops, living on a college campus, and interacting with college students and professionals who serve as their mentors.  The conferences are hosted each summer at various college campuses across the country.  Visit https://www.hsf.net/youth-leadership-institute   Applications are due 25 January 2020.

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.


23 June – 17 July 2020 – Juniors from three countries spend three weeks in Greenland at a Greenland-led Science Field School and atop the Greenland Ice Sheet for a Dartmouth-led Science Education Week.  Travel, accommodations, and meals are provided as well as extreme cold weather outerwear when needed.  Participants must be U.S. citizens with a U.S. passport valid for at least 6 months after the date of the expedition.  They are also required to be in good physical health because of remote travel, travel at high elevations, and hiking in rugged terrain.  Applicants must provide two references and describe a project they would complete if chosen to participate.  Completed applications are due 31 January 2020.


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.


22 June – 15 July 2020, Camp Pocahontas, West Virginia– The National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp) is a residential science education program for graduating Seniors who intend to pursue higher education and a career in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics related field.  Two students are selected from each state and Washington, D.C. to participate in lectures, hands-on studies, an outdoor adventure program, and a trip to Washington, D.C.  Selected students will attend the NYSCamp free of charge to include housing, meals, and transportation.  Eligible applicants must graduate from high school between 1 July 2019 and 30 June 2020, and must be able to attend the entire program-no exceptions.  Additionally, applicants must have documented superior academic proficiency, including recognition in mathematics or the sciences; documented leadership abilities and social maturity through involvement in school or community activities; documented skills and achievements outside the realm of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, and outside the realm of academia; and must demonstrate a curiosity and eagerness to explore many and varied topics.  For more information about the program, visit NYSCamp’s website at http://www.nysf.com/w/.  For the application, visit https://nysf.smapply.io/.  Applications to attend the 2020 NYSCamp are are due by 6:00 pm EST on 28 February 2020.


18 – 29 July 2020 – Approximately 90 students will be selected to participate in the University of Notre Dame’s Leadership Seminar.  This ten-day program for Juniors who are academically talented students showing impressive leadership within their communities includes the cost of tuition, housing, and meals (Free except for a $50 application fee, a $150 enrollment fee, and transportation to and from the university).  Seminar topics include: Global Issues: Violence and Peace in the Modern Age; The Environment: Science, Policy, Ethics; and The State of Race in 21st Century America.  A completed application must include ACT/SAT documentation, contact information for a teacher and counselor.  A transcript release form will have to be provided to WTW right after winter break so your counselor can send your transcript, a counselor report, and school profile.  Visit https://precollege.nd.edu/leadership-seminars/ for all details and to apply.  Financial Aid is available but the appropriate Financial Aid Request Form and requests for an application fee waiver are due 20 January 2020.  Completed applications are due 27 January 2020.


21–25 June, Washington, DC – The Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) provides a national program in which participants enjoy an all-expense-paid trip to Washington, DC, meet with congressional representatives, tour museums, visit historic sites, and enjoy special events and entertainment.  Applicants must receive electricity at their home from NOVEC, and be a Sophomore or Junior.  A completed application requires two recommendations, resume information, and an essay up to 350 words.  Selected applicants will be required to provide a photo which will be taken at an interview held late February.  CAUTION: The application requires the applicant’s social security number.  Completed applications must be received by 5 pm on 7 February.


27June – 2 July 2020, Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, VAThis FREE 5-night, 6-day residential program is for Latina girls interested in STEM careers and is designed for high school Sophomores though all are welcome to apply.  Participants will learn about STEM careers through hands-on activities, trips to local STEM-focused companies, and field trips.  At the completion of the program, students will receive scholarship funds to be used at the college of her choosing and the opportunity to complete a second program in Summer 2021 to earn additional scholarship money.  Completed applications must include a recommendation and a personal essay in which you discuss (1) What is your particular science interest (chemistry, biology, or physics)?  Why are you interested in this area?  (2) Why do you want to participate in the Camino a la Ciencia summer residential experience?   For more information and to apply, visit http://pathwaystoscience.com/students/Applications are due 21 February 2020.


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.


19-24 July 2020, Washington, DC – The Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute sponsors this all-expenses paid leadership experience designed for Latino students.  Students will spend a week exploring Washington, DC, learning how the government works, and participating in interactive learning opportunities to understand the top issues facing the Latino community.  Applicants must reside in the District of Columbia; Montgomery or Prince George’s county in Maryland; or in Alexandria City, Arlington, Fairfax, or Prince William counties in Virginia.  Applicants must be a current 10th or 11th grade student and demonstrate an interest in learning more about civic engagement.  While grades and a transcript must be included in the application, there is no minimum GPA requirement to apply.  All individuals are welcome to apply; however, preference is given to individuals with financial need.  For more information and to apply, visit https://chci.org/programs/r2l-nextgen/The application deadline is 16 February 2020.


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.


15 - 20 June, Marine Corps Base Quantico, VA – This free, week-long program introduces participants to the Marine Corps mission, core values, military culture, and leadership principles.  Physical training and scenario-based reaction courses will be emphasized throughout the week.  Applicants must be a high school Sophomore or Junior, be 16-18 years old by the program start date, have a 3.0 or better GPA, and complete the application process by the due date.  For more information and to apply, visit https://slcda.marines.com/.  The application deadline is 31 January.


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.


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/