Experiential Learning
& Fun in a Rural Campus Setting

castleton university, castleton, vermont

Join a community of motivated and intellectually curious students for one or both sessions of our Pre-College Vermont program at Castleton University. Choose one seminar per session from a wide range of options and take part in engaging discussions and hands-on projects that allow you to explore new interests or dig deeper into existing passions. Get a taste of college life as you become part of an inspiring and supportive community of Putney Pre-College faculty and students.

High School

Grades 9–12

Session 1

July 12–July 24, 2020

Session 2

July 26–August 7, 2020


Each session: $4,790 
Both sessions: $8,380 (Save $1,200)

High School Seminars

Middle School

Grades 6–8

Session 1

July 12–July 24, 2020

Session 2

July 26–August 7, 2020


Each session: $4,790
Both sessions: $8,380 (Save $1,200)

Middle School Seminars

Safety in a Time of COVID-19

Since Putney’s founding 69 years ago, we have approached each participant’s summer experience with the same attention to safety and security that we give our own children. This summer is no exception. Please read our FAQ to learn more about our health and safety protocols in light of coronavirus.

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Castleton University, Vermont

Castleton’s rural nature and relative isolation, together with the state of Vermont’s current trajectory along the COVID-19 curve, make this campus the ideal place to host a summer experience—one where participants can truly stretch their legs and expand their horizons. A wide range of facilities, available for our exclusive use, give a true taste of college life.

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Students choose one seminar to follow over the course of the session. Putney seminars combine experiential learning, a global perspective, and engaging residential instructors. Our programs are intentionally designed not to be like school, where learning is prescribed, classroom-centered, and text heavy. Instead, Putney Pre-College students learn by doing. Seminars are challenging and rigorous, but also innovative, intellectually stimulating, and fun.

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Health & Safety

We take students’ safety and health very seriously. Since 1951 we have delivered active, educational, safe, meaningful, and fun summer programs. Our instructors are experienced leaders, and are certified in First Aid and CPR. We have established protocols in line with health guidelines, an on-campus nurse, and on-campus health coordinator. Our home office in Vermont can be reached 24 hours a day during the program.

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“Our daughter said the seminars blew her mind and that she learned SO much more than she expected. Totally engaging and useful. And we can’t wait to see how this new knowledge and perspective applies to her classes when she returns to school and beyond.”

— Kirsten & Michael Beckwith, Kentfield, CA


Putney Pre-College Vermont brings together motivated and like-minded young people to grow intellectually and personally as they immerse themselves in a subject, learn from inspiring instructors and guest speakers, prepare for college, and make lasting friendships along the way.

Program Location

The village of Castleton, Vermont, located in the scenic Lakes Region, is full of New England character and charm. Castleton’s 165-acre campus is nestled in the heart of Vermont’s Green Mountains, providing panoramic views and unparalleled opportunities to get outside and explore during the summer while adhering to state and local health guidelines.

Residence & Accommodations

Our accommodations at Castleton University are undergraduate residence halls in the center of campus. Rooms are spacious singles and doubles with shared bathroom facilities. Dorms are equipped with several social common areas, as well as laundry facilities and kitchenettes. Staff and instructors reside on the dormitory floors with students. Enjoy full access to the college’s top-notch facilities.


Find a community of like-minded peers, invested in personal and intellectual growth. Like you, they are curious about the world and eager to have a positive impact on it. Everyone attends community meeting each evening, where the group shares ideas, successes, and goals, and sets plans for the coming day. Join a community that supports and nurtures your interests, and make lasting friendships along the way.

Engaging Seminars

Pre-College seminars are interactive and collaborative, and take advantage of Castleton University’s facilities and Putney’s roots in the state of Vermont. You can expect to meet with local and regional experts, artists, entrepreneurs, and guest speakers during the program. Each seminar works toward a final project—a short film, a business proposal, a gallery opening, or a dramatic reading, for example—which you present to fellow participants on the final night of the program.

Inspiring Leaders

Our Pre-College instructors are accomplished academically and professionally. They bring to each seminar deep content knowledge and experience in their field, as well as enthusiasm for their subjects, a passion for teaching, and a proven capacity to connect with and inspire students. They are dedicated and caring individuals who also live in dormitories with students, sharing in their lives and fully participating in extracurricular activities.

Workshops & Activities

Pursue interests and passions beyond your seminar topic with elective workshops and extracurricular activities led by instructors. You might learn the basics of night photography or help create a pop-up “found fashion” show, compete in an “Iron Chef”-style cook-off, or dive into discussions of public health policy and climate change. There is plenty of time to stay active, too. Take a yoga class, go swimming and hiking, learn a new dance, play frisbee, or go for a bike ride.


When applying to the Pre-College Vermont program, you will choose one seminar to follow throughout your time on campus.

High School SeminarsMiddle School Seminars

Program Structure

High school and middle school sessions operate independently, residing in different dorms and using different parts of campus, but are structured similarly. Each day features a combination of seminars, hands-on activities and workshops, lab time, virtual guest speakers, community meeting, and unstructured time for socializing and reflection. After breakfast, depending on the day, seminar learning may start in classrooms, labs, or meeting spaces on campus. After lunch, seminars continue. Afternoons and evenings offer opportunities for students to explore interests beyond their seminar topic in elective workshops, take part in fun extracurricular activities, or work on their independent projects. After dinner, students and instructors from all seminars convene for evening activities, which include a nightly community meeting. On the final days of the program, students focus on their independent projects, which they then present to the Pre-College community.

Daily schedule

8 AM • Breakfast in the campus dining hall
9 AM • Seminars meet in classrooms, labs, studios, or outdoors
11AM • Lunch and free time
1PM • Seminars continue the day’s activities
3PM • Afternoon activities, workshops, extracurriculars
5PM • Dinner with your group
7PM • Community meeting
8PM • Evening programming, speakers, or activities

Outcomes & Final Projects

The Pre-College Vermont program is designed to immerse students intellectually in their chosen seminar topic as they prepare academically and socially for the college experience. Over the course of their two-week seminar, each student develops a final project based on their particular interests, which they present to peers and instructors at the end of the program.

Peace of Mind Payment
& Refund Policy

In uncertain times like these, it makes sense to have a refund policy that allows for maximum peace of mind.

If we decide to cancel your session we will refund 100% of your tuition payments and application fee.

If you decide to withdraw from the program at least seven (7) days before the start of your session, we will refund the entirety of your tuition payments, less the $200 application fee. If you then apply for next summer by December 1, 2020, we will waive your application fee.

If you decide to withdraw less than seven (7) days before your session, your tuition is nonrefundable. If you then apply for next summer by December 1, 2020, we will waive your application fee.