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MathILy-Er - 10 Reasons Why You Should Participate

Participating in advanced math programs is a fantastic way for high school students to enhance their academic profiles — especially when applying to competitive colleges. These programs not only demonstrate your passion for mathematics but also showcases your willingness to challenge yourself beyond the standard curriculum. MathILy-Er is one such prestigious program that offers a unique and intensive mathematical experience. In this blog post, we’ll go over everything you need to know about MathILy-Er and why you might consider participating.


What is MathILy-Er?

MathILy-Er, or "serious Mathematics Infused with Levity — earlier," is an advanced five-week residential summer program designed for high school students who exhibit extraordinary enthusiasm and mathematical talent. The program emphasizes a collaborative learning environment where you can explore a variety of mathematical topics beyond the traditional high school curriculum. It is structured to dive deep into complex mathematical concepts, encouraging you to think critically and creatively. 


Is MathILy-ER prestigious? 

Yes, MathILy-Er is highly prestigious and recognized for its rigorous academic standards and the exceptional caliber of its participants. 


The program boasts a selective acceptance rate, typically admitting only about 30 students each year from a competitive pool of applicants. Alumni of MathILy-Er have gone on to attend top universities and excel in various fields, reflecting the program’s strong reputation in the academic community. 


What is the structure of MathILy-ER?

MathILy-ER is hosted on a different campus year-to-year (usually at a school in Philadelphia) from late June to early August. This year, it will be held at Arcadia University from June 30 to August 3, offering an intensive learning experience where participants live on campus to fully engage in both academic and social activities. The daily schedule is structured to include a mix of interactive lectures, hands-on problem-solving sessions, and collaborative workshops — ensuring a well-rounded approach to learning. 


Classes take place for about 7 hours per day, in two shifts (morning and evening) for 6 days per week. Days are filled with guest lectures from prominent mathematicians, group discussions, and various social activities that foster a sense of community among participants. An aspect unique to this program is the “Week of Chaos,” where many short classes with topics suggested by both students and instructors are conducted. This structured yet dynamic environment is tailored to challenge your academic ability,  encourage deep mathematical exploration, and build lasting connections with your peers and mentors.


What does a typical day at MathILy-Er look like?

A typical day at MathILy-Er is structured to maximize both learning and community interaction. The day begins with breakfast, followed by a morning class session where you engage in interactive lectures and problem-solving activities. After a break for lunch, the afternoon is mostly free for relaxation, social activities, or additional study. However, you may also choose to spend some afternoons working on writing summaries of the day's lessons.


In the evening, you and the other students participate in the Daily Gather, a session designed for informal mathematical discussions, games, and collaborative problem-solving. After dinner, another class session takes place, where you’ll dive deeper into mathematical topics and continue your collaborative learning. The day often ends with social activities or downtime, allowing you to unwind and prepare for the next day's challenges.


What topics are covered by MathILy-Er’s curriculum? 

MathILy-Er’s curriculum is designed to delve into advanced mathematical concepts that are often beyond what is covered in most high schools. The core of the program focuses on discrete mathematics, including combinatorics, graph theory, and binary linear algebra. In the first two weeks, known as the Root Class, you focus on building a strong foundation by exploring topics like combinatorial game theory, ring theory, infectious disease modeling, and proof techniques.


The third week, called the Week of Chaos, features a variety of short classes based on suggestions from both students and instructors. This period allows for the exploration of diverse topics such as hyperplane arrangements, cryptography, quadratic forms, and generating functions.


The final two weeks, known as the Branch Class, offer more advanced subjects like probability and non-Euclidean geometry. This dynamic and rigorous curriculum ensures that you and other students are continuously challenged and engaged in learning new and exciting aspects of mathematics​.


Who is eligible? How can I apply?

MathILy-Er is designed for mathematically talented high school students, typically those who are juniors or seniors. Applicants should have a strong interest in mathematics and demonstrate exceptional mathematical ability and creativity. The program also considers students who are slightly earlier in their mathematical development but still exhibit great enthusiasm and potential.


The application process for MathILy-Er involves several steps:

  • Short Form: An initial application form providing basic information.

  • Exam Assessing Readiness (EAR): A set of challenging mathematical problems designed to assess the applicant’s problem-solving skills and readiness for the program.

  • Not-as-Short Form: A more detailed application form that includes personal statements, recommendation letters from math teachers, and additional information about the applicant’s mathematical background and interests.


Applications are typically due in spring (for example, April 30, 2024), and specific deadlines and details can be found on the MathILy-Er website.


How much does MathILy-Er cost to attend?

The cost to attend MathILy-Er is $5,300 ($1,060 a week) for the 2024 session. This fee covers all instructional materials, housing, and meals for the duration of the five-week program. 


However, MathILy-Er is committed to making the program accessible to all talented students, regardless of their financial situation. Financial aid is available and is awarded based on demonstrated need. The application for financial aid is straightforward, and the program encourages all students who need assistance to apply, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder their participation in this prestigious program.


10 Reasons to participate in MathILy-Er

Now that you know a bit more about this program, let’s dive into the reasons why you should participate:


1. You'll attend highly rigorous classes.

The classes at MathILy-Er are designed to challenge even the most advanced high school students. The curriculum delves deeply into topics like combinatorics, graph theory, and number theory, pushing students to expand their mathematical thinking and problem-solving skills. This rigorous academic environment ensures that you are continuously learning and growing.


2. You'll gain hands-on experience.

MathILy-Er emphasizes interactive, inquiry-based learning, where you actively engage with mathematical problems and concepts. Instead of passively listening to lectures, you'll be making conjectures, proving theorems, and participating in workshops that enhance your understanding through practice. This hands-on approach helps solidify your knowledge and makes learning more engaging.


3. You'll learn from expert instructors.

The instructors at MathILy-Er are experienced mathematicians who are passionate about teaching. Many hold advanced degrees and are involved in current mathematical research, bringing a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the classroom. Their enthusiasm and dedication help create an inspiring and supportive learning environment.


4. You'll collaborate with like-minded peers.

At MathILy-Er, you'll be surrounded by other students who share your passion for mathematics. This collaborative environment fosters deep discussions, joint problem-solving, and the sharing of ideas. Working with equally motivated and talented peers helps you push your boundaries and achieve more.


5. You'll have access to unique networking opportunities.

The program provides numerous opportunities to connect with other students, instructors, and guest lecturers from the mathematical community. These connections can be valuable for future academic and career pursuits, offering you a network of supportive and knowledgeable individuals who can provide guidance and support.


6. You'll experience a boost in college preparation.

The skills and knowledge you gain at MathILy-Er will prepare you for college-level mathematics and beyond. The program's focus on critical thinking, problem-solving, and advanced topics ensures that you are well-equipped to tackle higher education challenges. Participation in such a prestigious program also enhances your college applications.


7. You'll gain a prestigious accolade.

Being accepted into MathILy-Er is a significant achievement that is recognized by top universities and scholarship programs. The program's selectivity and reputation for excellence make it a standout accomplishment on your academic record, signaling your dedication and capability in mathematics.


8. Your college application will stand out from others. 

When you apply for college, especially for their math programs, your application is bound to catch the admission officers’ eyes. MathILy participants have attended MIT, Harvey Mudd, Princeton, Stanford, UC Berkeley, Swarthmore, Oxford, Carleton, Carnegie Mellon, Brown, U Waterloo, Cornell, Haverford, Caltech, Stony Brook, and other excellent colleges. Therefore, being a MathILy-Er participant can be a signal that you’re a great candidate for top-class schools in the future. 


9. You'll get a taste of college campus life.

Living on a university campus for five weeks provides a valuable preview of college life. You'll experience dorm living, eat in the campus dining hall, and navigate a college environment. You can also visit Philadephia’s offerings to see if this city is the right fit for you. This immersion helps you get comfortable with the college setting, making the transition to university smoother and less intimidating.


10. You'll have a fun and memorable summer.

Despite the program's intensity, MathILy-Er ensures that students have fun through social activities, games, and collaborative projects. The sense of community, combined with the joy of discovering new mathematical concepts, makes for an unforgettable summer experience that balances hard work with enjoyable moments.


Our Thoughts

MathILy-Er offers a unique and challenging environment for mathematically talented high school students, blending rigorous academic coursework with hands-on, inquiry-based learning. The program's structure, which includes living on a college campus, provides an invaluable taste of college life and fosters personal growth alongside academic development. Participants benefit from the expertise of dedicated instructors and the opportunity to collaborate with like-minded peers, building a network that supports future academic and career pursuits. Overall, MathILy-Er stands out as a prestigious program that prepares students for advanced mathematical studies and beyond.



One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in STEM or other subjects, which can become a topic to talk about in your college application, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students 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.


Lydia is currently a junior at Harvard University, studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and Economics. In high school, she was the captain of her high school’s Academic Decathlon team and attended the Governor's School of Engineering and Technology. She aims to become a life sciences consultant after graduation.


Image Source: MathILy-Er logo

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