Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Summer Programs Review

Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth Summer Programs Review

“Since 1979 the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth has identified young people of great academic promise through our annual Talent Search, then nurtured their intellects and personal growth through Summer Programs, CTYOnline courses, and other services and resources.” CTY offers residential summer programs at different colleges and universities across the country including Franklin and Marshall College, Dickinson College, Loyola Marymount University, Skidmore College, Johns Hopkins University, Princeton University, and University of Seattle. However, the summer programs are unaffiliated with these institutions academically — they simply provide dorm space for the programs.

Students in grades 7-12 take one class for a three-week session. The courses are typically those that are not found in a traditional high school curriculum. Most students do not get the opportunity to take classes like those at CTY until they are undergraduates. Courses range from Cryptology to Introduction to American Studies: The Sixties to Special Relativity.

But CTY is not exclusively about academics. Students spend several hours every day bonding with other gifted students and participating in fun traditions. There are dances every weekend, along with a huge number of daily activities that include activities like acting improv, basketball, swimming, slam poetry, and cloud watching. Finally, many get a taste of college life — living in a college dorm, eating in a dining hall, and having a resident assistant.

Students who wish to participate in CTY’s programs must have SAT, ACT, PSAT, or SCAT scores on file. Most students take these tests as part of the Talent Search in 7th or 8th grade, but they can be taken at any time, independent of the Talent Search. The scores required for admission are as follows:

Intensive Studies Writing and Humanities Courses

Grade at Testing SAT* ACT SCAT
7 ≥510CR ≥21 ≥475V
8 ≥560CR ≥24 ≥480V
9 ≥610CR ≥27 ≥485V
10 (or higher) ≥660CR ≥29 ≥490V

Intensive Studies Math and Science Courses

Grade at Testing SAT* ACT SCAT
7 ≥580M OR ≥1040M+CR ≥23M OR ≥41M+R ≥495Q OR ≥965Q+V
8 ≥630M OR ≥1140M+CR ≥26M OR ≥47M+R ≥500Q OR ≥975Q+V
9 ≥680M OR ≥1240M+CR ≥28M OR ≥53M+R ≥505Q OR ≥985Q+V
10 (or higher) ≥730M OR ≥1340M+CR ≥31M OR ≥57M+R ≥510Q OR ≥995Q+V

Academic Explorations and Global Leadership Humanities and Writing Courses

Grade at Testing SAT* ACT SCAT
7 ≥ 410 CR ≥15 R ≥ 455 V
8 ≥ 460 CR ≥18 R ≥ 460 V
9 ≥ 510 CR ≥21 R ≥ 465 V
10 (or higher) ≥ 560 CR ≥24 R ≥ 470 V

Academic Explorations and Global Leadership Math and Science Courses

Grade at Testing SAT* ACT SCAT
7 ≥430M ≥16M ≥475Q
8 ≥480M ≥18M ≥480Q
9 ≥530M ≥20M ≥485Q
10 (or higher) ≥580M ≥23M ≥490Q
*PSAT scores may be used in lieu of the SAT. Add a “0” to the PSAT Critical Reading section score for the SAT equivalent.

Tuition and Fees

Traditional Intensive Studies and Academic Explorations Courses: $3945

Marine Sciences Courses: $4995

Civic Leadership Institute: $4245

Global Issues in the 21st Century: $4450

Financial Aid and Scholarships
CTY is committed to enabling all gifted students to attend CTY summer programs without consideration for their families’ economic resources. Financial aid is provided for all students in need of it until funds have been exhausted for the year. Last year alone, 1,800 students were awarded $5.4 million in scholarships to participate in CTY summer programs.

In addition to traditional need-based financial aid, CTY offers a number of special scholarships for eligible participants. These scholarships take academic merit and financial need into account when awarding aid. They include:

I participated in residential CTY summer programs at Franklin & Marshall College the summers after 10th and 11th grades. My first summer I took History of Disease and the next summer I took Utopias and Dystopias. It was an absolute blast. Never before had I been around a group of students who were so passionate about learning simply for the sake of learning. CTY was not competitive. There were no grades and no college credits given. Students were there because the curriculum excited them.

My instructors were college professors in relevant fields of study, and teaching assistants were undergraduates or graduate students who were experienced in the subject matter. They guided us through the curriculum and challenged us intellectually. Some instructors are definitely better than others. I remember an instructor in another course getting fired about a week into the session.

The best part of CTY was the friends I made. We bonded over the traditions that unite all of CTY — singing American Pie, glowsticking, and crying during Passionfruit. Years later, I’m still friends with a number of my classmates at CTY even though we’re spread out across the country doing all sorts of different things. I keep my keys on my sky blue CTY lanyard. A few of my friends even attend Swarthmore with me now. CTY was an experience that I will treasure forever.

That said, CTY is not all perfect. The summer program I attended was for students from grade 7 to age 16, which is a huge age range. The rules were certainly set for the younger students but applied to everyone. When I was 16, almost 17, I was already driving and was fairly independent. When I got to CTY, I had to have lights out by 10:30 p.m. and was once heavily punished from allowing my friend from the room next door sleep over in my room. For me, the rules were inappropriately strict for someone going into their senior year of high school.

In addition, some students choose to participate in CTY because they think it will provide a strong boost to their college applications. However, that is not the case. CTY is an academically enriching summer program, but with a steep price tag. No college would expect students and their families to be able or willing to spend that kind of money on a summer experience. Spending your summer at CTY or another expensive summer program will show colleges that you did something meaningful over the summer. However, working a summer job or volunteering will also demonstrate that to colleges. To be honest, I didn’t even mention CTY on my college applications.

Finally, my main criticism of CTY is that it is not especially diverse. Since standardized testing is its sole criterion for admission, it favors an upper-middle class, racially homogenous group of students. There are many students who are intellectually gifted who are not given the tools in school to succeed on standardized tests. Other students at CTY are not necessarily gifted but had the resources to participate in extensive test preparation that other students do not have access to.

CTY was ultimately a fabulous experience for me. The friends I made and courses I took had a strong influence on my college search and selection process. After CTY, I knew I wanted to go to a small, liberal college that was intellectually rigorous but not competitive. Ultimately I ended up at Swarthmore, which fit all of my criteria. That said,  you should not force yourself to go to CTY just because you think it will boost your college applications. It’s not worth it just for that. Go to CTY if you’re able to secure the funds needed and are excited about the intellectual and social experience it has to offer.