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Stanford's Summer Internship for High School Students- 7 Reasons Why You Should Apply

Stanford's summer internship for high school students at the Cardiothoracic Surgical Skills and Education Center is an intensive program geared towards talented high schoolers interested in studying surgical medicine. Focusing specifically on cardiac and thoracic diseases, you’ll observe cardiothoracic surgeries, learn technical surgical skills, and get hands-on experience putting this knowledge into practice. If you’re a prospective pre-med student, this internship will put you ahead. By participating, you’ll demonstrate both your capability for advanced medical and surgical work, and dedication to the field by seeking out this prestigious and challenging opportunity. 


In this blog, we’ll run through the key details of the internship from structure to prestige to the application process, and share 7 exciting reasons to apply. 


What is the structure of Stanford's summer internship for high school students?

Hosted over the course of two weeks, the Summer Internship consists of lectures by Stanford professors and surgical residents Monday through Friday from 9 am to 12 pm. From 1 pm to 4pm, you’ll participate in interactive skills sessions, consisting of faculty demonstrations that you’ll then practice on your own. 


You can optionally attend regular office hours and extra tutorials.


Who is eligible for Stanford's summer internship for high school students ?

The only official requirement for the summer internship is that you must be at least 16 years old by the start date of the program. However, Stanford does make an exception for high school juniors who are not yet 16. Due to the highly-selective nature of the internship, successful applicants will typically have significant academic and extracurricular achievements, particularly in the fields of science, research, and/or medicine. 


Also note that, though this factor does not affect eligibility, Stanford prioritizes applicants living in close proximity to campus. This is in part due to the fact that Stanford does not provide on-campus housing for students; those traveling across the country or internationally will need to coordinate independent living arrangements, which can be quite expensive and difficult to find.


How prestigious is Stanford's summer internship for high school students ? 

The internship is considered highly prestigious due to its affiliation with an elite university and competitive admissions process. 


Though Stanford does not publish the internship’s acceptance rate, only about 30 students are admitted from a pool of applicants from across the United States and the world. As a specialized program in medical and surgical sciences, participation in the internship will not only demonstrate impressive academic credentials, but also a strong pre-medical background and preparation for intensively studying and applying surgical skills.    


How do I apply to Stanford's summer internship for high school students ?

The internship application is fairly straightforward, containing standard summer program materials. You’ll be required to submit the following: 

  1. General information application form  

  2. A resume or CV

  3. A PDF of your official academic transcript

  4. Official score reports for the PSAT, SAT, and/or ACT (this requirement is waived if you have not taken any of these standardized tests)

  5. Personal statement essay of 500 words or less

  6. Two letters of recommendation

  7. Non-refundable application fee of $95


Applications must be submitted through Stanford’s online portal, which typically opens in early January. 


If you have more questions about applying to the program, you can check out their FAQ page here.


What are the dates and deadlines for Stanford's summer internship for high school students ?

The High School Student Stanford Summer Internship has set different application deadlines over the years, so you’ll need to confirm the submission date once the application portal opens. Decisions are typically released about a month after the deadline. 


The internship takes place over two sessions; you can specify your preferred session dates, though your preference may not be accommodated based on limited availability. Session One runs from late June to early July; Session Two runs from mid- to late-July. 


How much does Stanford's summer internship for high school students cost?

The internship tuition is $5,500, though a limited amount of need-based financial aid is available. For students unable to commute from home each day, you’ll also need to cover housing costs over the two weeks of the program. 


Let’s dive into 7 of the most compelling reasons to apply to the internship program.


1. You’ll receive early exposure to advanced medical concepts

This internship offers a rare opportunity for high school students to delve into the realm of cardiothoracic surgery, gaining insights into complex medical procedures and diseases. Exposure to such advanced concepts at an early stage can significantly enhance your understanding of medicine. In applications to colleges or other internships or programs, this specialized knowledge will make you stand out among other prospective students, and identify you as uniquely qualified and prepared for an advanced curriculum. 

2. You’ll experience hands-on surgical training

Unlike many high school programs, this internship provides hands-on experience in fundamental surgical skills. You’ll move beyond studying the features of cardiac and thoracic diseases, and actually see how they’re surgically treated, even getting a chance to learn and apply these methods yourself. Spanning from incisions and suturing, completing a heart dissection, and actual surgical techniques, you’ll become experienced in skills typically only taught at the university or medical school level. 

3. You’ll receive guidance from renowned Stanford faculty and surgical professionals 

As an intern, you’ll be learning from the best, studying under Stanford faculty and surgical residents at the Cardiothoracic Surgical Skills and Education Center. Recognized by US News and World Reports as the 7th highest-rated institution in the country for Pulmonology and Lung Surgery, this internship setting ensures not only quality education but also mentorship from experts in the field.

4. You’ll have stellar networking opportunities

Interacting with faculty, staff, and fellow students can create lasting connections within the medical community, potentially opening doors to further opportunities or guidance in your academic journey. If you build close relationships with faculty members and impress them with your performance, you may even be able to obtain letters of recommendation for ongoing study of medicine at college or future internships. 

5. You’ll gain a comprehensive conceptual understanding 

The program isn't just about surgical techniques; it also focuses on understanding the principles behind cardiac and thoracic diseases, providing a holistic approach to the subject matter. Rather than studying conceptual material and surgical applications in isolation, you’ll learn from the beginning how the physiological background of Cardiothoracic diseases drives the development of treatments. 


6. You'll develop skills for future medical aspirations

For students aspiring to enter the medical field, this internship equips you with foundational skills that are crucial for future studies and professional endeavors in medicine or surgery. The technical and specialized training provided by the internship is rarely available for high school students, so you’ll have an early chance to refine your areas of interest in the medical sciences. Through participation, you can gain a better sense of your future goals, and have a head start on planning your future study and career pursuits. 


7. You’ll stand out in college applications

Beyond providing an unparalleled opportunity for students passionate about a career in surgery, participation is an incredible strategy for boosting your college application as an intended pre-med student. You’ll get to showcase your proactive approach to learning and your passion for medicine and have evidence to back up your skills. Even an acceptance to the program will show that your talents are recognized by members of a prestigious surgical team, and successful completion of the internship will demonstrate impressive skills and achievements in a highly specialized and competitive field.


Our review of the High School Student Stanford Summer Internship

Stanford's summer internship for high school students is a solid oppurtunity for high school students aspiring to excel in the medical field. Beyond its prestigious affiliation with one of the world's leading universities, this program encapsulates a transformative experience. It goes beyond imparting technical skills, offering a comprehensive understanding of cardiothoracic diseases, fostering critical thinking, problem-solving, and nurturing a profound sense of personal growth. By providing early exposure to advanced medical concepts, hands-on surgical experience, and mentorship from esteemed professionals, this internship equips students with a comprehensive foundation in medical and surgical practice, empowering them to confidently pursue their ambitions in medicine.


In essence, participating in this program isn't merely an addition to a college application; it can serve as a catalyst for your journey towards becoming a future medical leader. 


One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level medical research, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students that I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.


Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a Ph.D. student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: Stanford


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