Here is the second part of this post.
Now, this is when sh*t got real. If I didn’t find a productive way to spend this summer, I was pretty much going to be a failure (in my own eyes). So I sat down, did some real research, regaled in the fact that I was finally old enough for all these programs, and set up a plan for everything I was going to apply to. This is the year, where along with research and similar programs, I applied for pre-college programs, where I would be getting credits at a particular university while studying alongside their undergrads.
1. Princeton Laboratory Learning Program
This program is your standard summer research program (except for the fact that it is in Princeton!!! (My ideal Uni, for those who don’t know)). You get matched up with a PI in Princeton, and spend the entire summer with them in the lab. You must be 16 years old (which is why I couldn’t apply in sophomore year). There is no stipend for the program, but this is one of them where the prestige outweighs the money they could give you. This program is based solely on an online application with only a few essay questions. Having prior research experience is a very advantageous point for this program (it is for all research programs, but this one especially).
I applied to this program because it was my obvious number one (except for the Governor’s School) choice concerning my summer. This was my “reach” summer program, where I didn’t really think I’d get in, but would thank the gods if I did.
As pretty much expected, I got rejected from this program. After looking at the College Confidential and talking to some others that applied for this summer program, I got the impression that you need to be pretty impressive to be able to do research with Princeton, which c’mon, I don’t blame them. But yeah, definitely apply to this one, especially if you have prior experience.
For more information: http://research.princeton.edu/students/research-opportunities/
2. Columbia Pre-College
This is your standard pre-college program as I described above. The specific program I applied to was the College Credit option, where after the end of the summer, I would have Columbia University undergraduate credits on my transcript. (There’s also a non-credit option.) In this program, you can choose a certain amount of credits/classes you want to take throughout sessions in the summer and pretty much just take the classes in an intensive, condensed environment. You can either have a residential experience, where you live on site in the dorms, or a commuter experience, where you travel everyday to the university. These type of programs are a good way to introduce yourself to a college climate, and try to acclimatize yourself early. This type of program is also helpful if you do it in the university you intend to attend after high school, because not only will it give you a leg up during the application process, you have the potential of saving money/time because you completed the credits the summer before.
I applied to this program because I wanted to apply to at least a few pre-college ones, in case I didn’t get into my top choice research programs. I only applied to top tier universities; my logic was that there’s not really any use from credits from other colleges, especially if I don’t plan on attending or if they are schools I already have a good chance of getting into anyway. My biggest problem with this program (and pre-college programs in general) are that they cost sooooooo much. They can be up to $2,000 per credit, which is definitely not something my family can afford (or something I would even be willing to pay, unless as a last resort). So I made sure to apply for scholarships to the pre-college programs whenever I could. Even the application for these programs has a fee that goes along with it, and is usually cheaper the earlier you apply (I applied early enough for this one that they waived my application fee.) I actually didn’t end up applying for a schol for this particular one, because I had already gotten into my choice for a research program.
As I pretty much expected, I got into this program. Generally speaking, pre-college programs aren’t that hard to get into because colleges just really want your money, and someone with a 4.0 GPA will pay the same as someone with a 3.0 GPA. Regardless, I got in, and I would’ve probably taken one course worth three credits and paid the commuter price. This program (and usually all pre-college programs) was based solely on an online application.
For more information: http://sps.columbia.edu/highschool
3. Brown Pre-College
This program pretty much follows the exact format as the Columbia, except the program that I applied for was the Pre-Baccalaureate (basically a fancy name for college credit), and it was more expensive.
I applied for the same reasons, and also got in. I did apply for a Dean’s scholarship for this program, but did not meet the financial need requirements, so was given no aid. Brown is great and all, but I don’t think it’s worth the amount they were charging, at least when all the other aspects of my situation were taken into account.
For more information: http://www.brown.edu/academics/pre-college/overview.php
4. Rutgers Summer Science Scholars Academy
This program (S3A), held by Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is a way for high school students to spend their summer delving further into advanced science topics, especially those centered around medicine and human physiology. Throughout the three week program, students will spend time in classes about anatomy, physiology, medical terminology, etc, and will get a chance to experience the practical and patient side of medicine, like administering exams and learning how to talk to patients. This is a good program for those that are trying to get involved in the world of medicine before college. This program is usually held during July, depending on the year, and is on weekdays for the majority of the day. It is a paid program that costs about $2,500. It is only open to rising seniors (aka applicants in their junior year).
For me, this program was my “safety” program; I was really confident I could get in. I was also not that into this program, because I learned pretty much everything their curriculum described in school (I go to a school especially for kids aspiring to enter medicine), and it wasn’t really that prestigious of a program.
I ended up getting in, and submitted my deposit while waiting for a reply from the research programs, so I could still go to S3A in case I didn’t get into any other program. I ended up rejecting the acceptance. For this program, you also need to be able to commute for the entirety of the program.
For more information: http://rwjms.rutgers.edu/education/sap/s3a.html
5. Monmouth University Summer Research Program
This program is mainly for undergraduates or grad students in Monmouth University who are looking for research opportunities during the summer, but also has a few positions available for rising high school seniors. This is a 12 week program, from the end of May to mid August, which also makes it difficult for high schoolers to do, although the dates are flexible. It is a fairly standard research program; you get matched with a researcher and present your research at the end of the program. Certain research positions support a stipend, while most do not.
I applied to this program mainly because it was just another research one I could apply to. I didn’t think I’d get in, considering this year they only had two opportunities for high schoolers (one of which was comp sci, which I have zero experience in) and Monmouth University students are obviously heavily favored. I almost didn’t apply to this one, but I was like whatever, might as well apply, you never know.
I did not get accepted to this program, as expected. I’m not even sure I would have gone even if I did get in, if I was in the same situation, most likely because of the distance I would have to travel to do this the entire summer.
For more information: https://www.monmouth.edu/school-of-science/summer-research-program.aspx
6. New Jersey Governor’s School in the Sciences
This program is (widely-considered) the most prestigious one on the list. It is a 3 week opportunity for the top rising seniors in the state of New Jersey to collaborate and learn and complete a small research project together. Now, this program is different from others in that it is not an open application. If you attend a New Jersey high school, depending on the size of your school, your principal can choose up to 3 students to become nominees for this program, NJGSS. You should indicate your interest early in junior year to your guidance counselor or principal, and eventually they will either pick or establish an application system to choose their nominee for the school. If you get selected as a nominee, you will then get placed in a pool with all the other nominees in the state, and the top 30-40 students are picked to attend the program. The program chooses its participants based on PSAT scores, GPA and first semester junior year grades, two essays, and teacher recommendations.
This was my easy first choice for summer programs. It is definitely the most prestigious, and people that have gone to this program have gone on to Princeton, Yale, Johns Hopkins, and the like.
In a very sad moment, I was not accepted :( The worst part was that I thought I had a really good chance of getting in, but I guess I didn’t have all that it took. Yeah, I was pretty disappointed for a while; I actually have a whole other post on the experience of the application and rejection. But anyways, I’m over it now; I have moved on. But I definitely would have gone. I encourage you to try to get as close to perfect as you can on your PSAT in your junior year and getting two really good letters of recommendation. These were the main reasons I think I didn’t get in - my PSAT score was poop and because one of your recommendations have to come from a math teacher, (I don’t have the best relationships with my math teachers,) my math recommendation was definitely no where near as good my other one was.
For more information: https://www.drew.edu/govschool/
Related note: New Jersey actually has two governor’s schools, one for science (from straight up math to bio, chem, and all that) and one for engineering. Schools can pick up to 3 nominees for each program, so if you’re more interested in engineering/think you’ll have a better chance of getting into that one, go for it! They have slightly different requirements, but they mostly overlap.
7. Liberty Science Center Partners in Science
This program is for rising juniors and seniors, and is another one of your pretty typical summer research programs. Liberty Science Center in Jersey City is just the coordinator, and they match you up with researchers from schools around your area (for example, I got matched with a researcher in the Rutgers School of Pharmacy). This is an 8 week program, where you work in your assigned lab the entire summer, for most of the day during weekdays, from the beginning of July to the end of August. There are also bimonthly workshops/instructions during the summer at Liberty Science Center itself, not including an introductory session and a final symposium where you will present your research. This program offers a $1000 stipend intended to cover costs of transportation. This program chooses its participants through an extensive online application as well as an even more extensive interview.
For me, this program was a solid choice, considering it had pretty much everything: it had a stipend, it would most likely not be very far from home, and there was a really good chance I would get in. It’s also a really great program in general, and goes through a much more thorough process when selecting candidates, which increases the prestige of the program.
I was accepted into this program, and am still in the process of finalizing mentors, projects, timings and all of that. I am super excited to get started this summer, and after the entire experience, I’ll write a post going through everything in detail, concerning the application and the actual program and whatnot.
For more information: http://lsc.org/for-educators/programs-at-the-center/partners-in-science/
*Important Note*: If you are thinking about applying, one part in the application is about ranking your preferences for areas of research. Two thirds of the applicants usually mark Medicine/Health as their first choice (like I did in sophomore year), but if you want to increase your chance of getting in, try a different field you are interested in as your first choice. There are mentors for each field, and because so many more people are vying for medicine mentors, it becomes a much more competitive process. I applied as a genetics first choice in my junior year, and still ended up with a medicine/health mentor.
8. Columbia Science Honors Program
Now, this is not a summer program, but I applied for it in my junior year and didn’t feel like writing a whole other post just dedicated to applying for this program. Columbia SHP is a year round program, in which selected students get to spend every Saturday during the school year at Columbia University taking classes for enrichment. It is a generally selective program, and you can apply any year as a high schooler. There’s an application fee, but no cost for the program itself. The application consists of an online standard application, along with an on site entrance exam (which I thought was pretty easy, but I dunno, you can never really tell).
I applied to this program just as a way to bolster my activities during senior year, I thought it would be a good experience with relatively fewer consequences if I didn’t get in.
I have yet to hear back from SHP, because decisions come out in late June, but I will update this as soon as I get them.
I heard back from Columbia today and I was accepted to the program. Not terribly surprised, the test and overall admissions didn't seem to be that difficult. They included this in their decision letter though: "The competition for admission to the SHP was intense, with nearly two thousand students competing for approximately 400 available positions." That translates to 20% acceptance, which is a pretty good balance of selectivity and acceptance. I will do this my senior year and I'm excited to not only take the enrichment classes but also explore Columbia. Maybe I'll decide to apply there next year (cause right now it's not on my list - I'm not applying to that many Ivies and I don't really like the idea of living in the city.)
For more information: http://www.columbia.edu/cu/shp/
Thanks for reading!