Is SSP for You?

Imagine yourself …

  • living and working in a close-knit community drawn from around the world, everyone just as interesting and motivated as you are, united by curiosity and exploration …
  • immersing yourself in a fascinating, challenging research project …
  • helping your teammates and being helped in turn, collaborating rather than competing …
  • learning more and learning it faster than you ever thought possible, feeling intellectually challenged as you never have before…

The “SSP experience” accelerates your academic and personal development as you approach important life decisions. Afterwards you will really know whether a STEM major and career is your best path – or not. And you will gain practical skills, such as time management, that will help you succeed in college and beyond.

It is free to apply. There is a program fee, but generous need-based financial aid funded by our generous donors allows students from lower-income families to attend at a fee they can afford. In 2022, 32 attended absolutely free, and 35 more at a discounted fee.

SSP is intense and challenging – material is presented at a pace faster than college courses, and the schedule is jam-packed – but every participant receives a high level of personal attention from the seven faculty, so no one is left behind. The spirit of cooperation is reinforced by the absence of grades or tests.

In the classroom

Should you apply?

Well, if the idea of spending most of your summer doing science excites you, and you meet the prerequisites, then why not? We will carefully evaluate your application holistically and in context, taking in account your motivation, resources, and obstacles overcome. Every year, some people are surprised to be admitted – maybe that will be you! But since we have many more applicants than spots, you should have a backup summer plan too. Whether you are admitted or not, applying to SSP gives you good practice and a head start on applying for college.

Want to watch more videos?

Visit SSP’s YouTube channel.

Whom do we admit?

Each application is reviewed holistically. Admitted applicants are earning top grades in the most advanced math & science courses available to them. We look for evidence of good character and motivation, and take into account any obstacles you may face, for example limited resources in your family or your school. The application provides ample opportunities to explain your unique circumstances. Besides the typical criteria of preparation and motivation, we consider how much the experience would benefit you, which is a subjective judgment on our part.

Each program of 36 participants and 7 faculty is a diverse community of scholars. Those from racial and ethnic backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in STEM are especially encouraged to apply. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, or application for financial aid.

For more on who should apply or not, see the FAQs. If you’ve read this far, and meet the prerequisites, head over to the application.

Antonio Rodriguez SSP '15
Antonio Rodriguez SSP '15

“I grew up in Salinas, California. My parents, like most people there, came from rural Mexico with little formal education but with a willingness to work hard that they instilled in me. Going to SSP was a dream come true that changed the course of my life forever. There I was able to learn from a diverse, open-minded, and intellectually stimulating group of peers and faculty.

“When I was growing up, Stanford to me was just a place that I knew had a good football team and a hospital where gang shooting victims in my town were airlifted to. SSP gave me the skills and experience that led me to enroll at Stanford with a full-ride scholarship. During my very first year, I joined an astrophysics research group led by a professor who usually only takes older students. I was allowed to join because another SSP alum had been doing excellent work for him.

“I’m now a graduate student in astrophysics at Caltech, studying brown dwarfs, white dwarfs, neutron stars, and black holes through gravitational microlensing. I still have fond memories of my fantastic summer at SSP.”