ACA Madison @


Join ACA for the Summer-of-a-Lifetime!

Welcome to Wisconsin!

On the shores of Lake Mendota, Madison is a cosmopolitan state capital and renowned college town. It has the excitement of a large city, but on an intimate, user-friendly level. Surrounded by great hiking trails and bike paths, not to mention some of the best golfing in the Midwest, Madison is the perfect place for anyone looking for an active summer. You can even go sailing, swimming or canoeing on Lake Mendota!  All while enjoying Madison’s idyllic summer weather!

Madison, Wisconsin represents the very best the Big 10 has to offer, excelling in academics, research, recreational facilities and athletic achievement. It is an ideal environment for students who want a real look at top-caliber college life.

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Weekday Schedule

Classes run Monday through Friday.


At ACA, we know safety comes first. Our ten-to-one student-to-staff ratio –one of the lowest in the industry– lets us provide each student with unmatched attention and supervision. The Statesider, our luxury residence, features a front desk staffed 24 hours a day with trained personnel for your comfort and convenience. ACA staff members also live on every student-occupied floor and accompany students on all activities and excursions. 

ACA takes extra care to use private transportation for our weekday activity and weekend adventure trips – never public transportation. ACA staff members also carry cellphones for emergency contact. 

Parents will be reassured to know that Madison is a friendly college town.

Travel to Madison*

We recommend that students fly nonstop to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport. There they will be met by ACA staff members, who will escort them to comfortable, air-conditioned shuttles for the two-hour drive to Madison.

If necessary, students may fly directly to Madison’s Dane County Airport. Upon arrival, they will be met by ACA staff and escorted directly to campus.

Of course, parents are also welcome to drive students to ACA directly. Contact our office for further information on any of these travel options.

*Transportation is not included in tuition.

Our Courses

ACA’s signature Wisconsin program offers the kind of personal enrichment courses that build confidence for college while also giving you the chance to grow academically and intellectually. 

The ACA experience gives you a welcome preview of college life, and still delivers plenty of opportunities to enhance your knowledge and pursue your interests. Get a head start on the coming school year. Brush up on a subject that challenged you in the past. Do it all in an amazing summer setting, surrounded by new friends and without the pressure of grades!

The academic portion of ACA’s Madison program consists of college-style courses.

ACA classes are graded on a “satisfactory” or “unsatisfactory” basis, and all students receive an ACA “Certificate of Achievement” upon successful completion of each course.

Classes are held Monday through Friday, and are taught by distinguished members of the university faculty, graduate students, secondary school instructors or Madison-area professionals. Instructors teach in an interactive, seminar style, creating a supportive environment that encourages you to actively participate in each class.

ACA fills courses on a first-come, first-served basis, so we strongly recommend enrolling in the program early to better ensure the availability of your desired courses.

Course Options: 

You will be able to choose two of the following options for your stay in Madison:

Course Selection:

“Only a life lived in the service to others is worth living.” ACA’s Service Learning course embodies this Albert Einstein quote providing, rewarding opportunities to spend time helping to make Madison an even better place for its citizens and visitors. American Collegiate Adventures is committed to helping students participate in social and personal transformation. Our goal is to encourage them to realize the power they have to grow as individuals while contributing to an environment of cultural understanding and mutual respect.

ACA prides itself on being a leader in the pre-college summer enrichment industry and is committed to giving our students access to rewarding community service opportunities. We’re convinced, and educators at every level will agree, that these experiences not only improve the well-being of people around the world, they also produce more well-rounded, socially aware students – the kinds of students colleges want to enroll!

Students will find inspiring ways to use their talents by working with children in local schools, raising money for worthwhile charities or volunteering at soup kitchens, organic farms and senior centers. Morning and afternoon options are available, earning up to 40 hours of community service! Upon completion, every participant receives a certificate highlighting the total number of hours volunteered and projects completed.

Students have the option to enroll in an Intensive Community Service Program, which allows them to participate in fulfilling service projects during both enrichment offerings, or they can choose service for just one course period.

Past ACA Service Partners Include:

  • Madison School and Community Recreation Program
  • Family Centers, Inc.
  • Middleton Village Senior Living Community
  • Second Harvest Food Pantry
    Community Action Coalition (CAC)
  • Make-A-Wish Foundation & Pediatric Leukemia Fund
    TSupport Our Troops
  • Bayview Foundation

Photography has evolved more dramatically than any other art form, and digital technology has revolutionized how we take pictures. This hands-on course will introduce you to both the basics of taking great digital pictures and advanced tricks for making them even more creative and compelling. You’ll learn how to crop images, adjust color and contrast, and save your work as a great keepsake of your ACA experience! Whether you hope to shoot fashion models and rock stars, capture images of rare animals in the wild or just want to take good vacation photos, this course is picture perfect! Please note: Some studio time outside of regular class is required, and students must supply their own cameras.

Find your inner Emeril! Everyone should know his or her way around the kitchen. In this appetizing course, students get comfortable with cuisine and understand that preparing food is a delicious art. You’ll learn gourmet tricks and tips that are sure to satisfy. For your final project, you’ll really get cooking, preparing special meals for fellow ACA students and staff. Bon appetít!

Do you know the work of Donna Karan, Ralph Lauren and other top designers? This exciting design class will help you hone your fashion sense and express yourself at the same time! You’ll learn how to combine colors, shapes, fabrics and textures to create a look that’s all your own. You might start the next fashion craze!

Are you afraid of studying in the United States because you don’t trust your English skills? This course will improve your English skills as a certified ESL teacher helps you along. Semi-private classes are designed to help you, no matter what your level of English proficiency. This course will help you develop skills in pronunciation, vocabulary, grammar, reading, listening comprehension, and oral and written communication.

Learn French, Spanish or Hebrew at your own pace. Whether you’re fluent or just getting started, these semi-private classes will enable your instructor to gear assignments to your level of proficiency. Other languages are also available for study. Contact ACA directly for more info!

Do you need to brush up on algebra before school starts in the fall? It doesn’t have to be a drag! We’ll show you just how useful algebra can be, and our entertaining applications will make learning fun! You’ll learn about sets, signed numbers, equations, exponents, polynomials and more. Of course, the real payoff will be your improved math grades in the fall, as well as your improved scores on the math section of your SATs.

If you’re thinking about a career in medicine or accounting, calculus is a must! This course will introduce you to the concept of functions and relations, the basic ideas behind differential and integral calculus, and the applications of curve sketching and related rates.

Want to be the next controversial radio talk-show host? Perhaps you want to be a radio news or sports reporter! Learn how you can use your personality to convey excitement to your listeners. You’ll get experience in both live and pre-taped environments, learning how to sweeten sound, mix voices and music, and perform in front of the microphone with a smooth, assured voice.

If you dream of becoming a reporter for ESPN or Sports Illustrated, this course is a terrific first step. Learn what it takes to convey the excitement of an event or an athlete to your audience. You’ll not only learn how to record facts and statistics, but also how to weave them into a compelling story worthy of any reader or listener anywhere! See you on the beat!

For you, being a writer means more than putting pen to paper. It means refining your skills for creative storytelling, true-to-life narratives, fact-based essays, and even journalistic reports. This course will cover your bases while it teaches character development and smart dialogue plus the fundamentals of grammar and punctuation. Whether you’re about to start a best-selling novel or hoping to ace your next big report, this is the “write” course for you!

Everyone knows that we live in a fast-paced, information-dependent culture – and we need skilled, entertaining personalities to provide us with what we need to know. Whether it’s serious news served up CNN style or a lighthearted late-night talk show, anchors, hosts and reporters have worked hard to ask compelling questions and create engaging interview styles. You’ll study classic ways to cover a story, interview a celebrity and interact with an audience. Stick with it and you could become one of the trusted faces we see on TV every night!

Want to learn how to get your point across more effectively? Then this is the course for you. You’ll learn the fundamental building blocks of speaking and debating, including verbal and non-verbal techniques, delivery styles, audience analysis, topic selection and ways of overcoming pre-speech anxiety.

From sports stars selling SUVs to pop singers selling soda, advertising and marketing is a huge part of our culture. Sure, it is essential to business, but it also reflects our society. How do advertisers and marketers determine the best way to influence consumers? What campaigns are the most effective? What new trends is technology creating? If you’re planning on influencing others through advertising, public relations or marketing, understanding these concepts will be essential. Get a head start!

All rise! Criminal trials have taken over the American airwaves. From celebrity scandals to Homeland Security trials, courtroom dramas have become big news. Whether you’re an aspiring attorney or just like a good argument, this course is for you. Learn the legal nuts and bolts that hold the U.S. judicial system together, and then put that persuasive power to the test by participating in a mock trial. You’ll be part of a crew getting ready for a “big trial,” learning how to develop convincing opening and closing arguments plus successful direct- and cross-examination styles. It’s a first-hand experience of the real inner workings of our legal system. Any objections?

Launching your own company isn’t for everyone. Only the most daring, determined types need apply, but if you have what it takes, you’ll be in the same league as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, or Google guys Larry Page and Sergey Brin. If you’re ready to develop your own startup, this course could be your first step on the road to success! You’ll create a business plan, hoping to cash in on your innovation and creativity. Research your market, work up a template to put your plan into action, and let your inner entrepreneur take command.

The past decade witnessed one of history’s most successful stock market runs – followed by one of its most devastating declines. What caused this incredible rise and major fall? What do mortgage defaults and taxpayer bailouts mean to your future investment opportunities? Are banks really too big to fail, or should they take their hits in the free market like any business? You’ll examine these tough questions, plus get the chance to create and manage your own investment portfolio! See you on Wall Street!

These intensive 3-week courses build the skills you need to improve your college admissions test scores. Offering complete diagnostic evaluations each week, students will get the practice they need to prepare for either of these challenging exams. Intensive classroom instruction will help students prepare for all test sections, which can be the key to decreasing test anxiety, increasing test preparedness and maximizing test performance. The full SAT or ACT review includes all books, diagnostic exams and classroom materials. ACA students in our Wisconsin program will work with Kaplan Test Prep for their SAT and ACT preparation. Kaplan is renowned for consistently helping students earn the scores that reflect their true ability, helping secure admission to the schools of their choice!
Supplemental fee: $695

Please note: SAT and ACT courses will run approximately one hour longer than the other courses. However, the extended class time will not interfere with any other regularly scheduled ACA activities.

Admissions professionals use TOEFL (the Test of English as a Foreign Language) to determine the proficiency of non-native English speakers enrolling in American colleges and universities. If English is not your first language, a TOEFL course can better prepare you for this critical test. You get intensive instruction, smart test strategies, and plenty of verbal and written practice to help you achieve your desired score. A full-length TOEFL diagnostic exam is included.
Supplemental fee: $695

Looking to be accepted at your dream school and then survive there? This class gives you intensive work on the college entrance application and tips to survive freshman year while keeping your sanity. This course focuses on writing effective admissions essays, getting noticed during interviews, mastering study success in a college environment, library research and winning test strategies. Teachers will keep you on your toes as you navigate this comprehensive course.

The mind is a limitless frontier. What do we know about its inner workings? You will get insight into what makes people tick in this popular introductory course. You’ll study personality and psychological development, attitudes, cognition and intelligence. And you will learn a bit about how you think and feel yourself.

Everyone knows that a good diet and plenty of exercise are the keys to good health, but what’s going to work best for you? Are you a vegetarian yogi or a protein-pounding weight lifter? Whatever your well-being interest, this course will help you balance mind, body and spirit, discussing progressive fitness techniques and intelligent approaches to nutrition.

Take to the waves or head over the wall! Whether you’re up for some canoeing and kayaking or you want to try your rock climbing skills, this course is the perfect fit for any outdoor sports enthusiast.

The threats to our environment are among today’s most pressing concerns. This course combines classroom discussions and outdoor excursions in its examination of the environmental challenges facing our planet. Is global warming a natural phenomenon, or is humanity creating a climactic catastrophe? How can fuel alternatives lead us to energy independence? Are we ready for solar, wind, geothermal, and nuclear energy? These are the issues we’ll try to power through!


From the laws of Newton, to the theories of Einstein, to the insights of Stephen Hawking, physics is the science where all the action is – literally! Learn more about how physical bodies interact and unlock the mysteries of motion around us all the time. This course is designed to complement high school physics.

Please note: This course is also available as an intensive tutorial for students with specific academic needs. 

This summer, ACA has some serious game! Now, you can take sports-specific courses designed to help you get the most out of your athletic ambition, whether you just want to break a sweat, stay in shape or have your eyes on a state championship!


Add velocity to your serve. Learn to charge the net with confidence. Unlock the power of your backhand. Or maybe just get a better understanding of the game’s fundamentals. All this is possible when you step on the court with ACA. You’ll play on top-caliber courts and get valuable instruction on how to take your game to the top!


Maybe you want to make your drive come alive. You might be struggling with your short game. This course will help you drop strokes and really get into the swing of things. Focused, individual instruction helps you work through your specific golf challenges, taking you from tee to green with confidence and control!


It’s time to throw around a little iron! You might be a varsity athlete looking to gain muscle and build power. Perhaps you want to balance your aerobic activity with some strength training. And maybe you’re just sick of being out of shape! This course will get you in the weight room and give you the tools to really work for peak physical performance. Don’t be intimidated. It’s for everyone!


Ready to be a force on the field? Fancy footwork is just the beginning. From building more intricate attack strategies to solidifying your defensive play, your soccer skills are in for a kick. You’ll play on outstanding top-notch collegiate fields with coaches who understand the intricacies of the game and know how to improve the performance of any player.

* A supplemental supply or lab fee will apply.

Madison Life

Madison – Wisconsin’s state capital – combines the energy of a proud Big 10 school, the sophistication of a college town and the friendliness of a loyal local community. It’s also a perfect place for anyone looking for an active summer! It’s surrounded by great hiking trails and bike paths, and Madison has some of the best golfing in the Midwest. You can even go sailing, swimming or canoeing on Lake Mendota! Professional instruction and equipment rental are always available. Be sure to pack your sense of adventure!

You can count on outstanding accommodations – this is ACA!

With ACA, you stay in style, enjoying the finest residence accommodations of any pre-college summer program. ACA’s newly renovated residence hall, The Statesider, features deluxe suites complete with refrigerators, microwaves, Ethernet connections, weekly housekeeping, linen service and, of course, air conditioning! You’ll also like the computer center and state-of-the- art workout facility, complete with plasma screen televisions. Plus, their newly renovated lounge areas and study rooms make it easy and fun to hang out with friends. At the end of the day, relax in fully furnished lounges. Catch your favorite program on cable TV, play some Xbox, or watch a DVD. And rest easy, because the front-desk staff and ACA office is on-site to ensure your safety 24 hours a day.

Excellent Eats

Choices, choices, choices! From home-style meals served at breakfast and dinner to lunch options that let you enjoy favorite restaurants — no pre-college summer program gives you as many dining options as ACA!

Our residence hall breakfast buffet features made-to-order morning specials like omelets, breakfast sandwiches, oatmeal and there is plenty of fresh fruit, cereal, bagels and yogurt, too. If you’d rather take your breakfast on the run, don’t worry, there’s Einstein Bros. bagels and fresh fruit ready and waiting for you to grab before you go!

Thanks to ACA’s exclusive Dining-on-the-Town-Plan, you have amazing lunch options each weekday. Visit your favorite restaurants, like the famous Potbelly’s sub shop, Ian’s Pizza, Einstein Bros. Bagels, Five Guys Burgers and more!

Dinners, served up Monday through Thursday at the residence hall, feature a choice of kitchen-fresh entrees, a selection of side dishes, a soup-and-salad bar, beverage bar, frozen yogurt, and fresh baked breads and pastries. Fridays, you enjoy a fun dinner at a great restaurant. And don’t worry, we make sure everyone eats just as well during our exciting weekend adventures!

Around Town & Beyond

The campus and the city of Madison are packed with plenty to do, and you’ll have plenty of time to check out the attractions and activities that interest you most! Participate in an on-campus seminar or workshop, explore the shops, sights and scenes in Madison, enjoy a favorite sport, or just relax on the lakeside.

If your sport is shopping, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy at the State Street outdoor mall. This energetic boulevard is a popular destination for students, residents and visitors alike, featuring favorite stores like The Gap and Urban Outfitters, along with plenty of great restaurants, bookstores, coffee shops and more!

You will have plenty of time to get to know Madison during ACA’s welcome scavenger hunt – our mad dash around Mad-Town! Some exciting activities include kayak Lake Mendota, chill on Madison’s famous “Terrace”, feel the heat at ACA’s bonfire at Picnic Point, enjoy a game of pool or pingpong at the Memorial Union, putt around at mini-golf, take a jog along Lake Mendota’s lakeshore trail, catch a Madison Mallards baseball games avor the sun and sand at James Madison Park and Beach.


Staying in Shape

At The Statesider, you’ll have access to a remodeled and updated fitness center, complete with Nautilus strength machines, Stairmasters, treadmills and LifeCycles. 

Of course, you’ll have full use of athletic facilities, including the running tracks, basketball courts, outdoor playing fields and weight rooms.

If you’d prefer some fresh air, the campus is surrounded by scenic running and cycling paths, and Lake Mendota beckons for a canoe trip or leisurely swim.


Complete your ACA Wisconsin experience with exciting weekend adventures.

Windy city weekend in chicago (2 Week Program)

Northwestern University– Enjoy a full tour of this beautiful Big 10 campus, situated on the shores of Lake Michigan.

University of Chicago– Visit this gorgeous Hyde Park campus, home to more Nobel Prize–winning professors than any other school in the world.

Art Institute or Shedd Aquarium– Based on your interest, you’ll either take in the world-renowned collection at the famed Art Institute or enjoy the depth of aquatic life showcased at the Shedd Aquarium.

Blue Man Group– You’ve seen them in the computer-chip commercials, wait until you see these guys live! Blue Man Group shows have swept the country from New York to Chicago to Las Vegas with an intense barrage of sight and sound, art and action. ACA gets you front-row seats, so you can bet that you’re gonna get wet!

Michigan Avenue/Oak Street– Niketown, Bloomingdale’s, Tiffany, Pottery Barn, Ralph Lauren – all the finest shops are right here on Michigan Avenue’s Magnificent Mile.

Navy Pier– Eat, shop and play at this modern mall and entertainment complex – built right on a genuine Chicago landmark (which happens to be out in the water). Make sure you check out the awesome Omnimax Theater for a 360-degree cinematic experience!

Foodlife– Grab a tray at this gourmet food court and work your way through a world of new tastes and favorite flavors, from exotic ethnic dishes to classic comfort food.

Chicago-style Pizza Dinner– This deep-dish style is famous the world over. Get ready to chow down with your new friends! If pizza is not your bag, don’t be concerned – we also offer an all-you-can-eat soup and salad bar.

Big 10 College Tour (2 & 3 WEEK PROGRAM)

For your 3-week stay in Wisconsin, you’ll also visit up to seven Big 10 schools, as well as the legendary campus of Notre Dame.

University of Notre Dame and Ohio State University–Visit the home of the Fightin’ Irish, known as much for its academic excellence as for its timeless football tradition, then tour Ohio State University, which boasts a first-class business school and legendary football program.

University of Michigan and Indiana University Campus Tours and Overnight Stays– Get an extended taste of Big 10 campus life, spending one night at U of M and another at IU! You’ll get a great sense of what daily life is like on each of these powerhouse campuses, from academic aspects and athletic pride to student diversions and social events.

Cedar Point Amusement Park– Check out The Roller-Coaster Capital of the World! We’re not kidding – this is the world’s largest amusement ride park. And when it comes to satisfying roller-coaster fans, this place is the best – featuring 15 serious scream machines! Got a queasy stomach? Don’t worry, there are plenty of rides designed for people who prefer to go slower.

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high school student summer program Wisconsin
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What Alumni are Saying

"UW gave me a first hand experience of living on a college campus, and I loved it. I am so grateful and happy I met such amazing people at ACA!"
"What an amazing summer I had with ACA. I got a real taste of what a college experience is like, and have enough memories to last a lifetime."
New Jersey
"ACA-Wisconsin is AMAZING. While living on campus, we were able to enjoy the area and the fabulous activities that Madison has to offer!"
New Jersey

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