Summer STEM Institute Summer 2021 AMA

Hi Everyone! I’m an alum of SSI 2020, part of the research cohort for their inaugural year. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about SSI.

@Nano1337 Hey i was planning on applying to SSI. but the early deadline is over. Can u tell me whether applying after early action does it reduce my chance of getting in a lot?

Also, I’m an international student and I require financial aid. Do SSI provide u full financial aid if u get in?

Lastly, please share ur experience about the research program!!!

@IntoBerkeley Hi There!

To answer your question, applying to regular decision doesn’t exactly reduce your chances of getting in, but you’ll just be compared to a different pool of applicants. If you complete the application to the best of your ability, then you can have a good chance of getting in.

Just like applying to college financial aid, the amount given depends on your financial situation. To quote from SSI:

The Summer STEM Institute (SSI) provides financial aid for families and students who cannot afford to pay full tuition. Cost is not intended to be a barrier to participate in the program. Students and families in need of financial assistance are encouraged to apply for financial aid.

Be sure to complete your application, then follow instructions listed here to complete the financial aid process within three days.

Finally, alumni and myself included have posted our honest experiences in this thread for potential applicants to read.

I hope this helped!

I was actually admitted to SSI. When the time came around for classes, I soon realized that the whole program was just a programming course taught by a Harvard student and at 10x the pace of a typical programming course. It got way too fast for me to keep up and I ended up dropping out. SSI is the type of program you attend if you couldn’t get into any better summer programs. Didn’t find anything valuable about this program and I strongly do not recommend it. It’s run entirely by college students, and I think there were a couple posts last year about how it was not worth the money. :woman_shrugging:

This thread is def coordinated by the founders given that they posted the exact same thing in another thread asking the same question. There are many other more established and legitimate programs for half of the cost. Even if it is as amazing as you claim it is, there is no way it’s worth that 6.5k price tag. There’s a similar program by Dr. Serena McCalla called the iResearch Institute and many of her students have won awards at top competitions like ISEF. I hear they’re more generous with their financial aid than SSI.

Also thought I’d drop some resources I used to learn more about research and opportunities instead of this camp:

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Hi @wintermelonkoala,

I’m sorry to hear that you weren’t able to take advantage of the program. As I said before, it is a very fast-paced program that provides all opportunities to you, as long as you’re willing to act on them.

A few bits of misinformation from your post that I would like to clear up:

  • I own this thread. I am in no way endorsed by SSI or its founders, but just an alumnus that would like to clear up the misconceptions of SSI from last year.
  • The programming courses were custom-made and mainly taught by a University of Washington student (not a Harvard student), which you may know as a top 10 university for Computer Science, so they are well qualified to teach beginner/intermediate data science and programming.
  • SSI is in no way just a “backup” program. It in itself holds the same opportunities as other reputable programs from USA __ Olympiads to RSI (which much of the staff had attended). The skills and experience I gained from SSI was unlike any other and has prepared me to currently work at my tech internship, using reinforcement learning (subfield of machine learning) technologies to solve the most pressing energy engineering issues.

However, thank you for the links you’ve provided as they are all valid approaches for high schoolers to gain more science experience. To be completely transparent, while SSI is a rigorous program, it is an enriching experience that I hope many more students can learn through. I wish the best for you in your future endeavors.


The course isn’t rigorous. I think your positive experience was not shared by most students. From my experience and after talking with people who also took the course, many of our classmates were struggling with the content. So much that the teachers gave away the solutions before the assignments were due. The certificate you got at the end of the summer was a certificate for merely completing the assignments. So you could pass the program by copying down the solutions from the teachers. I acknowledge that Mr. Alex and Mr. Aleks tried their best to teach us but this tells me:

1 – The quality of the program isn’t very good or,

2 – They are admitting too many unqualified students to increase revenue, and the program is not very prestigious and exclusive as they say.

I’m sorry, but your one negative experience is not representative of the entire body of students which went through the same experience. If you look on other CC threads as well as the many testimonials from SSI alumni, they have recounted many positive experiences quite opposite of yours.
Also, I don’t see a point in constantly trying to deface this program (I’ve seen your posts in both reddit and CC), inciting personal attacks on the founders and what students have been able to accomplish. If you didn’t enjoy the program, so be it, but let applicants get a feel for themselves how it suits them before pressing your own acerbic remarks.

How is the Diversity of International Student in this Program ?

Hi @Engineer12,

I would say that there are more international students from different countries in this program than any other current reputable US summer program that I know of. This means you would meet students from all over the world in this program and broaden your worldly view. I’d say that the people you meet at SSI is one of the best parts of the program!

There were a lot of international students.

I’ve posted my honest review of SSI on both Reddit and CC, but I haven’t personally attacked the founders?

Applicants want to hear the good, bad, and the ugly. Not just sugarcoated reviews for an expensive summer camp. There’s better value in free programs or ones that have generous finaid like iResearch.

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What kind of project did you do?

Hi @janinemo!

I worked on a computer vision project to detect prostate cancer from MRI scans. You can view my paper here as I was featured as one of the top ten projects.

Some other projects in the top ten have been invited to other research conferences and symposiums such as the Harvard Science Research Conference!

Wow, your paper is very impressive. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you for the compliments! I enjoyed writing that paper, and it’s probably one of my greatest achievements yet. I hope to see you at SSI this summer!

You will attend SSI again this summer or you will be a mentor there?

I’m not nearly qualified to be one of the mentors yet! I’ll just be helping out with answering questions you guys might have and moderating the SSI forums.

Hey whats the SSI acceptance rate

How many people attended the bootcamp in 2020?

500 in boot camp out of 2400 applicants

I believe it was about 100 accepted out of 2400 total applications for the research program.