In just a month HBA students will enjoy two months of freedom from school, homework, and tests, also known as summer.

During the summer many students go to summer school, travel for family vacations or sports, or get a summer job. However, some students have been attending summer programs on the mainland, hosted by colleges. Whether it’s a major-focused program directly from colleges ranging from Stanford University to American University or a leadership-based program like the National Student Leadership Conference hosted on a college campus, students can use summer programs to gain real life experiences of college and being away from home.

Last summer junior Jantzen Nakai went to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York to take a major-based class that discussed political philosophies and government foundations. Although the class was only three weeks long, Nakai obtained three college credits. In addition to his increased knowledge on government Nakai said, “ I learned more things about myself and non-school related material than I did about philosophy or politics. I think that the program taught me so much more about independence and taught me how to stand up for myself and for my beliefs.”

Sophomore Alexa Yoo went to the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC), a 7-10 day combination program, combining major-focused programs and leadership programs. NSLC has a variety of majors and college campuses to choose from. Yoo picked the Medicine and Health Care program at UC Berkeley. Through the program Yoo was able to learn about different careers in the medical field, attend seminars from professionals, and experience things first hand by working in the field, attending to patients and experiencing hospital procedures. She said that through this program, “I don’t exactly know what I want to do or be when I get older, but I do know that medicine is a definite option for me.” Students exposed to their majors in high school can figure out earlier if they want to pursue it in college or not, which can save a lot of money and time.


“I would recommend students to go on summer programs on the mainland because it really teaches one how to become more independent and the lifestyle in the mainland…” – Junior Jantzen Nakai


Both Yoo and Nakai agreed that their favorite part of the program was meeting students from around the US and even the world, making friends from places like Chicago, Texas, Spain, and Germany.  Nakai said that he and his friends “loved playing pool and going hiking, and we stayed up late until about 3 am every morning. Our floor was infamous for ordering about five pizzas at 2 am every morning because we would all get hungry around then.” Yoo still keeps in touch with some of her friends, many of whom are older and have given her advice about college.  Despite their similar career interests, Yoo said her new friends were the most interesting and intelligent people she had ever met, yet they were all completely different. Yoo said that her friends at the program included “a vegetarian gymnast, an aspiring doctor/makeup artist, an opera singer, a commissioned artist, an American model, and a cheerleader who enjoyed equestrian sports on her family’s land.”

Staying in dorms and being away from their families allowed Yoo and Nakai to get a grasp of what college life is like. Yoo said that although she was a bit sad leaving her family for the first time, “I soon found myself too busy to miss them! I was getting to my dorm at around midnight every night, and I woke up at around 5 every morning. Given the time difference and the lack of time, I barely had time for a few texts and brief calls.” She said that the hectic long schedule helped prepare her for the rush of college. Nakai noted that although his program was only a short three months, it made him more ready for college and his next program. He said, “ I think that as I prepare to go to Georgetown [University]  this summer, I will know a bit more than others about living alone and be a bit more prepared to wash my own clothes again.”

Although Yoo is staying home this summer to take a SAT prep class, she recommends the NSLC program saying, “It’s a safe yet liberating experience for individuals who are looking into researching a possible career option.” Nakai agrees, saying “I would recommend students to go on summer programs on the mainland because it really teaches one how to become more independent and the lifestyle in the mainland, especially upstate New York is in great contrast with Hawaii.”

Many colleges offer summer programs on campus. If students are interested, they should research online or ask their college counselor for assistance and suggestions. For juniors, going to a potential future college can allow them to get a firsthand experience before they actually attend it.