SAT / ACT Prep Online Guides and Tips

What Is Summer Institute for the Gifted? Should You Join?

Posted by Halle Edwards | May 28, 2015 10:27:43 AM

Other High School, Early Achievers (7th/8th Grade)

 

main_princetoncampus.jpg

Want to challenge yourself this summer? Interested in showing colleges some of your academic interests? If so, you might heave heard about Summer Institute for the Gifted.

In this post, we will explain what Summer Institute for the Gifted is all about, cover logistics like application materials, cost, and dates, and help you decide if it's a good fit for you.

Feature image via Wikimedia.

 

What Is Summer Institute for the Gifted?

Summer Institute for the Gifted (SIG) is an academic summer program for the “gifted and talented,” ages 5-17. "Gifted and talented" basically means you have been placed in a gifted program in school or you have tested above the 95th percentile on a nationally-normed test (we'll go over the elibigility info in detail below). You don't have to take a special test or submit an elaborate application to be considered.

The program consists of 3-week sessions, held on various campuses around the country. Some camps are residential (meaning you live on campus for the entire session) but also allow for commuter students, and others are exclusively day programs.

Each program has its own dates. The earliest programs begin in late June and run through mid-July, and the latest run from late July to mid-August. (See specific dates for the residential programs and day programs at SIG’s website.) 

If you're in a residential camp, you take a series of courses during weekdays and participate in recreation during evenings and weekends.

 

What Are the Classes Like?

Your classes will be a mix of academic (in subjects from the humanities, science, and math) and recreational. Courses vary by location, and are mostly separated by age level. So you might be in some academic classes with only students of your grade, but in recreation classes with students of various ages.

You sign up for your classes before you get there, but you can change your courses in the first two days. This gives you a chance to get a feel for different classes and hopefully come up with a schedule that’s a good balance for you.

 

Schedule and Residential Life

You take your classes during the day from 8:45 am to 4:15 pm with a lunch break, followed by a recreation period, dinner, and study tutorial in the evenings. So in some ways it’s kind of like your schedule during the school year, but a bit more intense since you’re living with other students and taking challenging classes.

On the weekends, there are local excursions, planned activities, and free time.

You live in a residence hall with students of your same age and gender, and also have a roommate (it’s possible to request a single room but it’s a bit more expensive).

 

body_dormroom.jpg

While the layout and size will vary, you can expect your typical dorm room to have a bed, dresser, desk, and, of course, a roommate! Image via Ives-Arch.

 

The day programs consist of the academic portion of the program, but you don’t stay in a residence hall or have weekend activities. The day program could be a good option if you want the academic experience but have other extracurricular or social commitments over the summer.

 

Locations for Summer Institute for the Gifted

SIG has a variety of locations all across the country. The residential programs are housed at universities, and the day programs are housed at a mix of universities and local schools. See below for a complete list.

 

Residential Program

  • Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania)
  • Emory University (Georgia)
  • Princeton University (New Jersey)*
  • University of California Berkeley
  • University of California Los Angeles
  • University of Chicago (Illinois)
  • University of Miami (Florida)
  • Vassar College (New York)
  • Yale University (Connecticut)

 *Does not allow for commuter students.

 

Day Program

  • Boston University (Massachusetts)
  • Bryn Mawr College (Pennsylvania)
  • Emory University (Georgia)
  • Fairfield University (Connecticut)
  • The Hudson School (New Jersey)
  • Oak Hill Academy (New Jersey)
  • Out-of-Door Academy (Florida)
  • The Overlake School (Washington)
  • Rippowam Cisqua School (New York)
  • Sarah Lawrence College (New York)
  • Sierra Canyon School (California)
  • Stuart Country Day School (New Jersey)
  • University of Miami (Florida)
  • The Woods Academy (Maryland)

 

How to Get In

You can apply online or through the mail for SIG, which includes paying the $95 application fee and sending in an application form.

The application form is pretty straightforward – you list your demographic info, say which program you want to attend and list your course preferences.

Finally, if it’s your first year, you must also submit eligibility info. You have to meet at least one of the following criteria:

  • Score at the 95th percentile or higher in one of the major content areas of a nationally-normed standardized test administered by your school (this includes a lot of state testing or the SAT/ACT). See a full list of tests here.
  • Participate in an academic talent search.
  • Be identified as gifted/participate in a local or school gifted program.
  • Score at least 2 standard deviations above the mean, or at the 95th percentile level or higher, on any individual or group-administered, nationally-normed standardized intelligence assessment.

  • If none of the above are available for you (your district doesn't have a gifted program, you haven't taken any of the standardized tests listed by SIG, and there are no talent searches you can participate in), you can have a teacher at your school fill out a letter of recommendation for you instead.

You should apply early in the year as programs, especially the ones at Princeton and Yale, tend to fill up before summer. Admissions are rollingso you need to apply to popular programs as early as possible. Less popular locations may still have open spaces through June! If you're interested in attending SIG in future years, try to apply as early as possible to maximize your chances of getting your first choice location. 

 

Cost

SIG costs between $4000 and $5500, depending on the location, for the 3-week residential option. The day programs are cheaper, between $1000 and $2300.

body_costsforresidential.jpg

A chart of costs for the residential SIG camps, via the SIG Application Form.

 

You can apply for financial assistance using this form. Try to apply early if you anticipate needing financial assistance, as funds for these types of programs tend to run out closer to the start date.

 

Is SIG Worth it?

You can definitely get a challenging academic summer experience by doing SIG. Many former participants say good things about the experience on online forums and blogs. In particular, many participants say it can be rewarding for students to meet other academically gifted students and make friends from different parts of the country.

That said, your time is very scheduled and the program is expensive, so you may want to consider other opportunities closer to home if you want more flexibility. You certainly won’t be penalized in the college admissions process for not doing a program like SIG. Especially if you live in a district where you have access to challenging classes or a gifted program, the benefits might not be dramatic.

Other great summer options include participating in local music competitions, volunteering, doing research, or taking classes at local community colleges or universities. Explore both local options and programs like SIG before deciding what's right for you. The main goal is to use your time over the summer to dig deeper into an academic or extracurricular interest. SIG is one way to do that, but make sure you consider many possible options to get the most out of your summer.

 

What’s Next?

Curious about other summer programs? Learn about programs at Johns Hopkins (CTY) and Stanford (EPGY). Read about a range of academic summer programs so you can decide which one might be right for you!

Wondering when you should start studying for the ACT/SAT? Get a guide for both tests so you can maximize your score (click here for ACT and here for the SAT).

Trying to decide which high school to attend? Learn about AP and IB programs so you can decide which is right for you.

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

Get Sample Lesson

Raise Your ACT Score by 4 Points (Free Download)

 

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
Halle Edwards
About the Author

Halle Edwards graduated from Stanford University with honors. In high school, she earned 99th percentile ACT scores as well as 99th percentile scores on SAT subject tests. She also took nine AP classes, earning a perfect score of 5 on seven AP tests. As a graduate of a large public high school who tackled the college admission process largely on her own, she is passionate about helping high school students from different backgrounds get the knowledge they need to be successful in the college admissions process.



Get Free Guides to Boost Your SAT/ACT
100% Privacy. No spam ever.

You should definitely follow us on social media. You'll get updates on our latest articles right on your feed. Follow us on all 3 of our social networks:

Twitter and Google+



Ask a Question Below

Have any questions about this article or other topics? Ask below and we'll reply!