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Question for Byerly on anyone else on SSP

meganfmeganf Registered User Posts: 21 New Member
edited June 2005 in Harvard University
Byerly, you seem to be very much in the know on things here related to Harvard. So I was wondering, if you have any idea as to the benefit of SSP, as it relates to being accepted as an undergrad down the road. Is it just a revenue stream for the college, taking anyone with half a brain, or is there some other benefits for the hs's who are accepted, take a couple of courses, get to know the college, and earn some college credit. So of the comments I have reviewed on this board seem to indicate that there is no added benefit, and that of many who have attended they did not, nor did they know of any of the friends they made at SSP get into Harvard undergrad.
So, was just wondering.......
Post edited by meganf on
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Replies to: Question for Byerly on anyone else on SSP

  • Hyper2400Hyper2400 Registered User Posts: 770 Member
    SSP is awesome "safety net" for ppl like me who would just LOVE to experience Harvard- if I don't get into undergrad...I would have at least experienced Harvard for 2 months...and that would make me very happy :)
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,702 Senior Member
    SSP doesn't confer any admissions advantage relative to other productive ways you might spend your summer.
  • sfricksfrick Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    So what's the point of spending 8k? Just to say I've been there! You could take the same courses at a local community college for a fraction of the cost. You would think that H would take the opportunity to be somewhat selective for SSP, get to know the student while at the summer session, then at the end of the session have the student fill out a questionaire to ascertain their continued interest. If the student did well in the courses taken, and expressed a continued interest in matriculation, the adcoms life sure would get easier. Just my two cents worth.
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,702 Senior Member
    They don't do that because they don't _want_ to confer an admissions advantage on kids who can afford to spend $8000; that's the opposite of what they're trying to achieve at the moment. Also, they don't have any shortage of kids with verified academic skills and very strong interest in Harvard, and they have to distinguish them in other ways, which SSP would not help to do. So even if they didn't have policy goals preventing the changes to the SSP program that you suggest, I don't think it would make their lives any easier.
  • sfricksfrick Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    Hanna.. There is no admissions advantage for those who can afford 8k since financial aide is available for SSP as it is for regular admissions. You are right they don't have any shortage of talented students. So my point seems more valid here. If students who were trully interested in H, attended during one or several of their hs years at SSP, it would give admissions some very solid information regarding (1) commitment (2) academic strengths (3) character/personality. Since H looks at profile of a class make-up, what better way to trully asceertain the "fit" then to have had the potential student right there under the microscope.
  • ByerlyByerly - Posts: 7,019 Senior Member
    I endorse 100% the views expressed by Hanna.
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,702 Senior Member
    >There is no admissions advantage for those who can afford 8k since financial aide is available for SSP as it is for regular admissions.

    SSP financial aid is not guaranteed, the amount available is limited, and it is awarded on the basis of merit as well as need. Also, most parents who'd need financial aid just don't consider sending their child away to a private program for the summer, especially since even in middle-class families, juniors and seniors are often expected to spend the summer working. The students in SSP do not reflect the economic mix of the country -- or even of the Harvard College applicant pool. So giving an edge to those kids would definitely work against the College's economic-diversity recruiting goals.

    SSP is a decent program, but it just doesn't provide the opportunities you describe for the College to look at the kids "under a microscope." Most of the courses offered don't involve the kind of individual scrutiny and intensive writing that would allow for a better academic evaluation than high schools provide. Since the kids are only in two classes at a time, even a straight-A performance doesn't tell you how they'll handle a full schedule (a high school semester with 5 AP's is a much better approximation of the Harvard environment than SSP). The extracurriculars (choir, summer Crimson, etc.) are far less competitive to enter and less enriching than their term-time counterparts, and probably less so than what most high schools offer. The vast majority of the kids are able to make friends and behave themselves in the dorms, so that doesn't distinguish them, either. I suppose they could have the summer proctors identify kids who were really extraordinary in terms of social skills or kindness, but chances are that those kids will make an equally strong impression on their high schools, and it'll end up in the application. In sum, SSP might be a useful way of weeding out a few kids who are still very immature, but I don't think it would do much to help the adcoms pick out the stars.
  • ByerlyByerly - Posts: 7,019 Senior Member
    Is it worth the money?

    That depends.

    A summer in Cambridge/Boston can be an enjoyable experience, what with access to the mountains, the beaches, the Red Sox, the nightlife, etc.

    And, arguably, the quality of the instruction and the facilities are higher than they would be at the local community college.
  • sfricksfrick Registered User Posts: 14 New Member
    I guess I look at the SSP as an opportunity that H could/should take advantage of other then what you and others seem to postulate.
  • dha_06dha_06 . Posts: 119 Junior Member
    I think it does help to a certain extent for certain groups of people. However, they are not going to admit that. For examply, since very few minorities go to SSP, those that apply to Harvard for undergrad might get a little leg up from another minority with the same stats/ ECs. Anyways I already know the whole "have fun thing" but depending on what you do in the summer it could benefit you. I got around 2k financial aid and the rest my family has saved up for. Since Im poor it shows a commitment that I dont have a lot of money, but since I want to go so bad that I have done everything possible to attend SSP. Im sure its not so black and white. And to a certain degree its better than taking like 10 courses at a local community college. Just my 2 cents.
  • geminihopgeminihop Registered User Posts: 606 Member
    I went to SSP last summer and would say that you should go for the experience. I will always have my "Harvard Experience". Academically it was challenging and even amazing at times. You have access to so many resources it is hard to take advantage of every aspect. The social part as well as location is absolutely fantastic. It helped me to figure out what I wanted out of a university experience. I still keep in touch with my proctor and proctor group and other friends I made.

    ~One guy in my dorm and another friend I met there got in to Harvard (one EA and the other regular), but they were something special to begin with anyway.
  • anothernycdadanothernycdad Registered User Posts: 41 Junior Member
    Don't know much about Harvard SSP, but I'ld trust Hanna and Byerly.

    The daughter of a good friend attended Barnard Summer program (cheaper than Columbia and allows for two distinct courses rather than one intensive; also commuted) She was looking for something "productive" and intellectually interesting to do while having an odd summer schedule revolving foremost around Empire State Games practices for her NYC team going to the all-state competition in early August.

    As it turned out this excellent student (stellar math and science) had two great courses in social/literary history of the 50's and 60's. She got outstanding evaluations from excellent teachers (one also a History Tutor in one of the H college houses who vouched she was on par superior to many of his H. undergraduates, blah, blah). No doubt, her public hs advisor got some good stuff to include. She was doing this for herself (a bit outside her strengths) and training athletically.

    She's now at Harvard (and not a recruited athlete altho good for NYC). On the one hand it was serendipitous. Wasn't thinking about grades in summer school or getting recs (at least the parents weren't.) On the other, she demonstrated something Harvard likes - intellectual curiosity, breadth, joy of learning - and some multi-tasking.

    The moral: It wasn't H SSP, not Columbia. Not biggest bucks to do it. Barnard was great for her (and she enjoyed meeting kids from all over the country and the planned NYC outings with new peers.) Depending on where you are and your options, Community College can be just fine for the summer; that's my guess tho of course without pricey personal benefits of residence away from home.
  • taffyluchiataffyluchia Registered User Posts: 477 Member
    Since the kids are only in two classes at a time, even a straight-A performance doesn't tell you how they'll handle a full schedule
    From what I've heard, the classes are more concentrated than usual. How are you suppose to fit a semester's worth of work in 8 weeks otherwise? Basically, you're going twice as fast as usually and no breaks in between. That's like taking 4 normal college courses with no vacation/break time in between. And the lectures are longer too and more commitment is required for good grades.
  • EASEAS Registered User Posts: 279 Junior Member
    I am a current Harvard student, and my friends who went to the SSP before coming here say that the classes in the summer are much easier-- summer school classes in general. Like the syllabus is lighter, less reading, shorter papers, more relaxed classroom attitude. So I don't think its really concentrated, at least from what my friends have said about summer classes *altho* I myself haven't ever attended summer school...that's kinda the opposite of what I'd want to do! lol
  • HannaHanna Registered User Posts: 14,702 Senior Member
    >How are you suppose to fit a semester's worth of work in 8 weeks otherwise? Basically, you're going twice as fast as usually and no breaks in between.

    Because the course that they're going twice as fast in is four times easier than a regular Harvard class.

    >more commitment is required for good grades.

    No, it really isn't. A lot of the summer courses are a sleepwalk compared to regular. I worked WAY less in the summer than during the year and got the same grades.
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