FAQ

Program Logistics

When will SSI 2021 be held?

SSI will be held from June 20th to August 1st, 2021.

Where is SSI held?

SSI was designed as a completely virtual program. A founding belief of the program is that with modern technology tools, a virtual educational experience can not just match but rather exceed an in-person program in quality and educational value. Being a virtual program allows SSI to bring in the top educators and mentors from around the world to teach students without the limiting geographic constraints of in-person programs.

What does a typical day of SSI look like?

During the week, students attend bootcamp lectures, Masterclass seminars, discussion sections, study breaks, and office hours. Students and staff communicate via Slack and Zoom. Students can also ask questions via the course discussion board. On weekends, students have the chance to participate in weekend challenges and research workshops. To see a more detailed schedule, please visit the Schedule page.

What is the difference between research wikis and research tutorials?

Research wikis consist of starting datasets and annotated column descriptions to help students get started with working with datasets in a variety of fields. Research tutorials are self-paced programming notebooks that students can use to complete introductory research projects and deliverables in a variety of fields. Whereas research wikis are used to introduce students to datasets, research tutorials are used to introduce students to research topic ideas and questions. 

Will homework be graded?

Yes, the bootcamp assigns a mix of programming and research assignments which will be graded. The emphasis of all grading is not to compare or rank students but rather to provide useful and actionable feedback to students. In particular, feedback on research assignments are geared towards helping students improve their research projects and reports.

How many hours of work per week is SSI?

Students in the program report a wide range of different work amounts. Depending on how involved students are with optional parts of the program, students in both the bootcamp and research programs have reported spending anywhere between 20 and 60 hours per week on the program. Students in the research program should be prepared to commit substantially more time to the program in order to work on their research projects.

How will students and staff communicate? 

Students and staff communicate via Slack and office hours hosted on Zoom. If a student has any question about the bootcamp, he/she can also post to a 24/7 discussion board, and a member of the teaching staff will respond as soon as possible.

Will I receive any certification for completing the course?

Yes, students receive certification from the program for meeting requirements outlined at the start of the program. Certification requirements depend on completion of assignments and do not involve formal testing or exams.

Can parents receive progress reports?

Yes, SSI sends progress reports throughout the program to parents who choose to receive them. Progress reports contain information about what students are learning and on individual student performance.

What prerequisites are there to the program?

The bootcamp curriculum is rigorous and fast-paced, and students admitted to the program must demonstrate the potential to excel in such an environment. The program understands that not all students have had equal opportunities to previous opportunities in STEM, and this is factored into the admissions process. Prior programming or research experience is not required to participate in the program.

What if I miss a lecture?

Students unable to attend a lecture due to a scheduled or unexpected conflict may notify the teaching staff to request access to a recording of the missed lecture. If students have any questions about the lecture, they can reach out to the teaching staff, visit office hours, or post to the discussion board.

What do students do on the weekends?

During weekends, students have the chance to participate in weekend challenges and attend research workshops. All weekend events are kept optional to allow flexibility for students who may have other commitments during the weekends.

Admissions

When are applications due for SSI 2021?

The deadline for the early and regular admissions cycles are January 15, 2021 and April 16, 2021, respectively. To learn more about the early and regular admissions cycle, please visit the Admissions page.

Is there a benefit to applying in the early admissions cycle?

Yes, students who apply in the early admissions cycle will be notified of their admissions decision earlier and will also be compared to a smaller applicant pool.

When will I receive my admissions decision?

Decisions are made on a rolling basis, which means that students will be given an acceptance decision sometime between the application due date and the latest decision date. For the early admissions cycle, students will hear back between January 15, 2021 and February 28, 2021. For the regular admissions cycle, students will hear back between April 16, 2021 and May 23, 2021.

How many applications does SSI usually receive?

In 2020, SSI received over 2,450 applications for 500 spots in the bootcamp program and 100 in the research program. The program seeks only to admit students that the program thinks can excel in a rigorous and fast-paced learning environment and take the most advantage of resources provided by the program.

Can students outside the United States apply for the program?

Yes, SSI is proud to be an international program that provides learning opportunities to students across the world. In the past, roughly 20% of the student body has been international. In 2020, students from 78 countries applied to attend SSI, and 40 different countries were represented over the summer.

Can middle school students apply to SSI?

SSI has in the past rarely admitted exceptional middle school students who can demonstrate the ability to thrive in a more advanced, challenging environment. SSI will not evaluate the application of anyone under the age of 13.

What application materials are needed?  

Students must fill out the SSI application to be considered for the program. The application contains the following sections: (1) Personal Information, (2) School Information, (3) Transcripts and Test Scores, (4) Activities and Awards, and (5) Personal Statements. To read more about the various parts of the application, please visit the Admissions page.

Can I send application updates?

Yes, significant updates can be emailed to updates@summersteminstitute.org. SSI is aware that many competitions occur in the winter and spring seasons, and the program makes a strong effort to incorporate significant updates into admissions decisions.

Is there an application fee?

No, there is no fee to apply to the program. 

What does it mean to be waitlisted?

Students are waitlisted to the program when the admissions committee is not certain whether there will be a spot available for the student in the program. Waitlisted students can optionally email significant application updates to updates@summersteminstitute.org. SSI will notify students who are taken off the waitlist.

Can I appeal a rejection decision?

Unfortunately, rejection decisions are final and can not be appealed. We encourage all rejected applicants to reapply for future years of SSI.

Research Program

How will I be matched to a mentor?

Students admitted to the research program are sent a questionnaire asking for more details about their research interests and goals for the program. A student’s application and questionnaire answers are used to match students to mentors who are the best fit. 

How much work is the research program?

On average, students in the research program have reported that the program takes 40-60 hours of work per week. The research process involves significant amounts of reading, extensive trial and error in exploring new ideas, and iteration and refinement in drafting papers and presentations. Students in the research program should be prepared to work hard and learn a lot.

What is the final research symposium?

At the end of the summer, all students in the research program are invited to present their work to other SSI students and staff in the final research symposium. The research symposium is a chance for students to share their work, practice their presentation skills, and receive additional feedback.

How are distinguished projects selected?

At the end of the summer, all students submit their final paper and deliver a final oral presentation. A panel of judges evaluates all presentations and chooses the top papers and presentations to be highlighted by SSI. 

Can I submit my research project to competitions and publications?

Yes, students in the research program are encouraged to submit their final work to science fair competitions and research publications.

What are some example project topics students can pursue?

In the past, students in the research program have pursued a range of different research topics. Past papers include “MRI-based Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease Using Deep Learning with CycleGAN for Data Augmentation”, “Hydra: An Efficient, Provably Secure Website Fingerprinting Defense Based on Traffic Splitting”, and “A Biologically Inspired Search Algorithm for Optimal Network Design.” To view a list of more projects, please visit the Distinguished Projects page.

Tuition and Financial Aid

What is the cost to attend SSI? 

The tuition for the SSI Bootcamp Program is $2,450 and the tuition for the SSI Research Program is $6,450. Please refer back to the Tuition page for more information.

Is financial aid available to attend SSI? 

Yes, the program provides financial aid for families and students who can not afford to pay full tuition. To see instructions on how to apply for financial aid, please visit the Tuition page.

Can students outside the United States quality for financial aid? 

Yes, students outside the United States are eligible to apply for financial aid. To see how to apply for aid, please visit the Tuition page.

What if I’m an international student and don’t have a US tax return?

International students whose parents don’t have a US tax return may omit the document when sending their request for aid. If you can provide a tax return in your country, please send that document instead.

Is there a refund policy?

Yes, a request to cancel enrollment in SSI 2021 should be emailed to admin@summersteminstitute.org. If the refund request is received before June 1, 2021, the refund amount will be the tuition paid minus a 3% administrative fee. If a refund request is received after June 1st, 2021, no refund will be provided.

After SSI

Can I request a letter of recommendation? 

All students who complete the program can request a letter of recommendation after the end of the summer. The program chooses only to write letters of recommendation in contexts where it can advocate strongly on behalf of a student and speak specifically to a student’s exceptional work ethic and abilities. For that reason, decisions by the program to write a letter of recommendation are made on a per-case basis and are based on a student’s performance and work ethic in the program. 

What learning opportunities are there after the end of the program?

For two weeks after the program, students have access to a series of research tutorials which are designed to help students get started with research in a variety of fields, including biology, economics, and sustainability. The tutorials are self-paced, and students are able to ask any questions they have to course staff during this time.

What opportunities are there to remain involved with SSI after the end of the program?

A major goal of the program is to keep students and staff connected after the end of the summer. At the end of SSI, students are invited to an alumni community board where they can keep in touch with their peers from the summer, SSI staff, and past SSI student alumni. The alumni board is intended to be a way to share academic and project collaboration opportunities with students. In the past, both students and staff have frequently posted new project and collaboration opportunities on the board.

Contact Us

Any other questions?

If you have any other questions not answered above, please email info@summersteminstitute.org.