Participating in immersive pre-college STEM programs can greatly benefit a student's academic trajectory and college applications. These experiences provide hands-on learning, showcasing a student's dedication and practical skills. They also offer networking opportunities and mentorship, shaping academic and career aspirations. If you are a high school student with a passion for mathematics and science the Michigan Math and Science Scholars (MMSS) program might be on your radar.
In this article, we'll delve into the overall structure, topics covered, faculty, prestige, costs, eligibility, dates, and deadlines of MMSS.
We'll also explore the pros and cons and provide a couple of testimonials to help you decide whether or not you should participate.
An Overview of the Michigan Math and Science Scholars Program (MMSS)
The Michigan Math and Science Scholars program is a summer program offered by the University of Michigan designed to provide intellectually curious and motivated high school students with an immersive experience in mathematics, science, and engineering.
The Michigan Math and Science Scholars (MMSS) program offers a pre-college experience to rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors worldwide.
With three 2-week sessions, students can explore a wide range of subjects taught by University of Michigan faculty in small, intimate classes. The program covers various disciplines: Anthropology, Astronomy, Chemistry, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Earth and Environmental Sciences, Mathematics, Paleontology, Psychology, and Physics.
MMSS provides both residential and commuter options, allowing students to experience college life on campus or join in on activities. Beyond the classroom, students get hands-on experience in research and computer laboratories and fieldwork with professors, gaining insight into exciting career possibilities in math and science. The program also features a range of distinguished faculty, like Anne McNeil and Mark Conger, who have received prestigious awards, and Dragan Huterer, whose research in physics has been featured in Science News. MMSS offers a unique opportunity for high school students to immerse themselves in the world of science and mathematics, helping them make informed choices about their future careers
How is the Program Structured?
The summer program offers three 2-week sessions for which courses run Monday through Friday from 9 am to 4:30 pm with a 1.5-hour lunch break. MMSS offers an intimate classroom experience with small class sizes, typically around 15 students. Led by University of Michigan faculty, these classes are designed to be engaging and interactive, fostering close interaction between students and instructors. Participants in MMSS can choose from various courses offered by science departments within the University of Michigan's College of Literature, Science, and the Arts.
Residential students taste college life by living in on-campus dorm rooms with counselor supervision. They can participate in various activities, attend pre-planned evening events, and even opt for optional weekend trips, creating a well-rounded and immersive experience. Commuter students are also welcome to join activities, ensuring that everyone can enjoy a vibrant life outside of the classroom.
A typical day for a student also varies by whether they are a residential or commuter student. As a residential student, meals are provided as well as a residence hall check-in which is built into the daily schedule from 7 am to 11 pm.
Faculty and Other Resources at MMSS
One of the program's strengths is its faculty. Participants learn from experienced educators and researchers who are experts in their respective fields. MMSS also provides access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources at the University of Michigan, allowing students to explore their interests in depth. One example of a respected educator is Dragan Huterer, who is a professor of physics. Dr. Huterer gained recognition for his research featured in Science News, which explored the fascinating topic of the universe's expansion. These accomplished faculty members bring their expertise and dedication to MMSS, offering students a unique opportunity to learn from the best in their fields.
In addition to its faculty, the MMSS program offers a plethora of courses to explore, ranging from Brain and Behavior to Forensic Physics, and Mathematical Music. These courses are offered within the 3 sessions that students are eligible to take and depending on the students' interest, they can opt to sign up for classes when they become available.
Is the Program Prestigious?
MMSS holds a strong academic reputation due to its affiliation with University of Michigan, renowned for its rigorous curriculum and stringent academic criteria. Enrolling in MMSS can elevate your college applications, serving as a testament to your commitment to STEM disciplines. Despite the academic rigor and faculty, the program is not as competitive as other pre-college STEM programs such as RSI, SIMR, etc, owing to its paid nature. There is a tuition fee associated with the courses, which is viewed less positively by admissions officers as opposed to fully-funded STEM programs.
Am I Eligible to Apply?
To be eligible for the Michigan Math and Science Scholars program (MMSS), applicants must be rising high school sophomores, juniors, or seniors, having completed at least one year of high school but having yet to graduate before the program's start. While most courses do not have specific prerequisites, students are encouraged to select courses aligned with their interests. MMSS welcomes applicants from all around the world, regardless of their citizenship. To complete the application, students must submit various materials, including transcripts, a letter of recommendation, a personal statement, and a non-refundable $100 application fee. Importantly, MMSS does not require GPA or ACT/SAT scores for application. Admission operates on a rolling basis, and applying early may affect course availability but doesn't guarantee admission.
How much does it cost?
Detailed cost breakdowns and financial aid information can be found on the program's website for those interested. In total, a residential student could pay up to $2,715 including the optional weekend events. Commuter students would pay only for the tuition at $1,300 and any additional weekly services.
Important Dates and Deadlines
The program typically takes place in July, but specific dates may vary from year to year. Check the official MMSS website for the most up-to-date information on application deadlines and program dates.
Pros and Cons of the Michigan Math and Science Scholars Program (MMSS)
The program offers high-quality faculty and access to resources. MMSS offers students the opportunity to learn from experienced educators and researchers such as Anne McNeil who received a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship among its instructors, recognizing her outstanding contributions. Another includes Mark Conger, a Math and Internet instructor, who was selected for the esteemed Golden Apple Award for his exceptional teaching. The Program also provides access to classrooms, labs, and general resources at the University of Michigan, enhancing the overall learning experience. This is a great opportunity for students who want an early college experience as they begin thinking about their path down STEM in higher academia.
You will get the chance to explore diverse course offerings MMSS offers various courses across various scientific disciplines, allowing students to explore their interests and gain exposure to diverse subjects. This is great for students looking to boost their college applications with a unique and specific topic they can discover and build on during their time in this program. Because the coursework offers a specific path in research opportunities, these types of research exposures and independent research skills are essential in the long-term path toward pursuing STEM in higher education. Students are able to use these skills as a solid addition to their resumes as well.
You will gain the opportunity to network and connect with like-minded students MMSS, as a college immersion program, offers students the opportunity to connect with faculty and other students and graduates at the University of Michigan. This is great for students looking to build on their interpersonal skills as they transition into higher education and continue to seek to build professional and personal connections in school.
It is not very prestigious While MMSS is prestigious, it is moderately competitive, with its added tuition costs. This program would be more of an experience that can be turned into a positive resume booster, but it does not rank high on competitive prestige.
MMSS is not a cost-free program Tuition costs can be significant, especially for residential students. The financial burden may deter some students from participating, although financial aid options are available. Some of these aid options include needs-based scholarships which can be filled out on the application, as well as the Watson Young scholarship grant.
The program has limited availability. Course availability may vary, and applying early may impact course selection, but it does not guarantee admission. Some courses may fill up quickly, limiting the options available to late applicants. MMSS only accepts about 15 students for each class.
The Michigan Math and Science Scholars Program - Should You Do It?
In conclusion, MMSS offers a valuable educational experience with renowned faculty, diverse course offerings, and the prestige of the University of Michigan. However, it's important to consider factors like competitiveness, tuition costs, limited course availability, and the application fee when deciding whether to participate.
You should note that if you are looking to conduct your own project or pursue independent research, this program focuses largely on taking college-level courses and academic exposure. If you are looking to pursue a personal research path, a research immersion program may be a better fit. The MMSS program is priced quite steeply for a two-week program, but if you are looking to push yourself into an interesting field of research or want to explore the many paths offered in a college degree, this is a decent option.
One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students 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.
Tenzing Dolma is a Master's student specializing in research following the Nechung
Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelor's in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is currently completing her graduate studies at Columbia University.