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Summer Science Program (SSP) 2013

slipstreamslipstream Posts: 22Registered User New Member
edited December 2013 in Summer Programs
Hi everyone! I think it's about time SSP 2013 had it's own super awesome, butt-kicking thread! So a few topics for discussion:

1) What is the experience like, ex-SSPers?
2) Any tips for the application process?
3) What sort of standardized testing is recommended for the SSP app?
4) Is there diversity in the program? How many international applicants normally attend SSP (I'm one myself :P)
5) What is the female : male ratio like at SSP (hey, why not :P)
6) Finally, who's applying? xD
Post edited by slipstream on
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Replies to: Summer Science Program (SSP) 2013

  • slipstreamslipstream Posts: 22Registered User New Member
  • StudiousMaximusStudiousMaximus Posts: 3,043Registered User Senior Member
    I'm applying! Also, I'd love to hear some answers to your questions from previous SSP attendees.
  • hpyscmhpyscm Posts: 900Registered User Member
    Sup guys! SSP-er here, from 2012. So last summer. lolol. I'll try to answer your questions to the best of my ability! (btw, I went to the California campus)

    1) What is the experience like, ex-SSPers?
    It's amazing. Every waking moment immersed in science and collaboration. You really get to know everyone there personally, all 36 of them. And it's also a TON of fun. But it's also a lot of hard work, and I've had some stressful days due to being behind on p-sets or not understanding some of the lecture material. Of course, the way SSP works is that you're taught much much more than you can possibly understand at once, and though you're surrounded by brilliant people, the majority of them are struggling just as much as you are to understand stuff! That's also why collaboration is SO important at SSP. You'll meet some AMAZING people and have a TON of fun, and also learn a crapload about astrophysics!

    2) Any tips for the application process?
    Don't blow off the essays. They're a big part of your admission, I think. Also, don't think that just because you won a bunch of math/science awards that you're going to get in - the majority of the people there are pretty normal, except they have a passion for science and are really motivated! And smart. hahaha.

    3) What sort of standardized testing is recommended for the SSP app?
    Doesn't matter, but I took the SAT, subject tests, and AP exams. I don't think it makes a difference though, as long as your scores are good.

    4) Is there diversity in the program? How many international applicants normally attend SSP (I'm one myself :P)
    Yup, lots of diversity! Of course, there's a lot of asians, but a lot of international students too. I think this year our campus had 6? A few from Europe (UK, Spain, etc.) and one from Brazil! Our campus didn't have any from Asia, but the other campus had a few so idk. It's definitely enough to make it interesting!

    5) What is the female : male ratio like at SSP (hey, why not :P)
    Exactly 1:1. They do it on purpose haha.

    6) Finally, who's applying? xD
    Good luck to everybody! If you get in, you'll have a fantastic summer. If not, there's plenty of other stuff to do in the summer!!!
  • DesafinadoDesafinado Posts: 773Registered User Member
    SSP 2012 here as well

    1) What is the experience like, ex-SSPers?
    SSP is pretty sweet. You don't really sleep very much, and spend a lot of time working. Having prior programming experience is nice but I didn't and my programming went pretty well. If you've taken AP Physics C and AP Calc BC the math and physics is pretty straightforward, but there might be some stuff with vector calc and fourier series that you haven't seen before. The academics aren't like typical schoolwork though. You're working on a research problem, so all the classwork is pretty much focused around that. There are a lot of cool things that we did in California, like going to the beach and JPL, but around the time the orbital determination is due you might actually resent field trips. Socially I'm sure it varies every year, but ours started off open the first week then got cliquey, and then stopped being cliquey like week 4.

    2) Any tips for the application process?
    Be yourself! One of the questions was about your academic interests, and I didn't say anything about astronomy or physics. One thing that I did emphasize a little bit was teamwork.

    3) What sort of standardized testing is recommended for the SSP app?
    I sent my SATs, PSAT, SAT IIs. But if you only have PSAT it shouldn't hurt you.


    SSP ended up getting me really into astro. My group really liked observing so we took all the free time on the telescope that we could. Don't be afraid to ask for help though, because chances are there will be at least a few people who are smarter than you.

    Future applicants should feel free to PM me any more questions

    also hey joo
  • hpyscmhpyscm Posts: 900Registered User Member
    lolololol we should totally hijack this thread

    yo but I disagree with the field trip thing. field trips were always fun. heh heh
  • DesafinadoDesafinado Posts: 773Registered User Member
    idk man what about when we went to state street on saturday and it was due saturday night?
  • StudiousMaximusStudiousMaximus Posts: 3,043Registered User Senior Member
    Thank you both for your prompt input!

    Regarding what hypscm wrote about SSPers' being normal, what are my chances if I don't have amazing math/science awards? My objective stuff is great, and I have a lot of involvement in my school and in certain activities. I also absolutely love math/science. However, I haven't participated in too many impressive math/science EC's, and I don't have much demonstrated interest in physics/astro (even though I love both). How many SSPers are like me?
  • hpyscmhpyscm Posts: 900Registered User Member
    hmm. There were a few, but demonstrated interest is DEFINITELY probably maybe the most important thing. So like some people had few awards and stuff, but you could tell they were SUPER into science, and particularly astro. That's definitely the most important thing. I mean I talked about biology in my "favorite subject" essay question, and I still managed to get in lolol. But definitely, having some solid science stuff and/or demonstrated interest (through essays) is really important. But then again, if you aren't really that interested in science to begin with and are just doing it for the name, don't bother applying lol. They're good at weeding people like that out
  • hpyscmhpyscm Posts: 900Registered User Member
    dude but it's STATE STREET!!!!!!! (i always like going there...)
  • StudiousMaximusStudiousMaximus Posts: 3,043Registered User Senior Member
    Okay, I'll definitely use my essays to showcase my interest in science and in astrophysics in particular. Thanks for the advice!
  • saffysparklessaffysparkles Posts: 202Registered User Junior Member
    SSP 2012!

    1) What is the experience like, ex-SSPers?
    (@ desafinado: pretty sweet like apple sauce? XD)

    Really, really, awesome. Wow, that is not very original. Like all of the interesting concepts and all of the interesting people. Automatic brain explosion. Boom. Okay so during the day it was like classes on astronomy, and math/physics. During the night it was PARTAYING and doing homework, usually at the same time. If you are not into that kind of fun, SSP may not be for you. And then even later in the night, because we all evolved into being masters of sleep deprivation, really strange things happen. For example we took a walk on the track and people were arguing about space expansion and ethics and programming and you could tell that everyone was incredibly passionate about a wide variety of science topics, particularly spaaaaaaaaaaaace.

    2) Any tips for the application process?
    Be yourself in the essays, don't think about what they might want. I did #1 on anatomy/physiology, and "what you like to do in your spare time" on art. So. yeah. One aspect I noticed that might've helped me get in was that my essays were all pretty lighthearted and humorous. Also, let your passion for science shine! Don't be afraid to get a little ridiculous with it. XD

    If you're from an underrepresented, especially rural area, perhaps mention that as well.

    3) What sort of standardized testing is recommended for the SSP app?
    Good SAT/ AP scores. I think we got anywhere from the 2100's to an almost perfect? But don't worry if they're not perfect. My Chem Subject Test score was like, 70th percentile. Derp. They admit people, not numbers ~

    4) Is there diversity in the program? How many international applicants normally attend SSP (I'm one myself :P)
    Yusss. We got a good number of internationals- six?
  • slipstreamslipstream Posts: 22Registered User New Member
    Congratulations hpyscm, Desafinado and saffysparkles on getting admitted and making it through the program! From what I've read in the previous year threads, (and I may have read a little too much :P), admitted applicants are in for a ride!

    After reading your responses, there's something I want to clarify. How essential are AP Calculus and Physics specifically to the SSP admissions committee. What if you're enrolled in alternate programs like the IB program? In my case, I'm taking the full IB Diploma with Math, Physics and Chemistry as my higher level subjects (which are comparable, if not more rigorous than their AP counterparts).

    Even with alternatives to AP out of the way, I realize some applicants may not be confident with their level of Physics / Math / Programming exposure. What can such applicants do to prepare for SSP in terms of building skills, reviewing concepts or preparing academically?
  • DesafinadoDesafinado Posts: 773Registered User Member
    IB is fine. I didn't do any programming before ssp and I don't think I was any worse off. And yes, sweet like applesauce. My physics teacher saw that pic hahaha.
  • hpyscmhpyscm Posts: 900Registered User Member
    Yeah it's not necessarily the material, but the thinking required to do them. If you've taken and succeeded in ap calc and ap physics (or ib or whatever) then you have the right thinking processes for ssp! At least at the bare minimum. If not, you have to show in some other way that you can handle the coursework there (errr... Not really COURSEWORK but you know what I mean)
  • slipstreamslipstream Posts: 22Registered User New Member
    Cool. I have another question about testing. I'm taking the SAT for the first time this January. Am I allowed to send those scores, even if I miss the deadline by a few days?

    By the way, you guys seem to have made an insane amount of inside jokes during SSP :)
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