If you are looking at studying computer science, machine learning or artificial intelligence, you might want to consider applying to various pre-college options, including immersions, internships, and research programs.
In this blog, we will be reviewing one such program, which is Veritas AI, a virtual AI program that immerses students in AI and machine learning.
What is Veritas AI? What does it offer?
Veritas AI is founded and run by Harvard graduate students and offers programs that are geared towards high school students who want to build their foundations in data science and AI.
In the program, you will learn various concepts in data science and artificial intelligence like neural networks, image classification, natural language processing, sentiment analysis, coding using Python, and more.
Additionally, you will be expected to conduct research in any field related to data science and AI under expert mentorship.
This is different from a general subject immersion offered by most universities, as you can add a research project to your portfolio quite early on and add a boost to your college application profile.
You should note that if you are looking for a completely beginner-friendly introduction to data science and AI theory or aren’t sure about diving into research-focused learning, starting off with a research program like Veritas AI may not be the best option for you.
However, if you are confident in your motivation to explore the subjects outside of your school curriculum, read on!
Which Veritas AI programs can I participate in?
If you’re a high school student, you can take a broad look at 3 programs below, each of which has a slightly different focus and structure when it comes to the curriculum covered:
This is a 25-hour program that introduces you to the fundamentals of artificial intelligence and machine learning. The program can range from 2 weeks (in the summer) to 10 weeks (during the academic year), and you will cover topics like linear regression, convolutional neural networks, and even ethics in AI! The program culminates with you applying the concepts learnt by forming teams of 3-5 students and creating a group project.
We’d recommend you choose this program if you’re new to computer science and want to focus on building your fundamentals before working on individual projects!
A snippet from the Veritas AI brochure outlining the AI Scholars Program!
The AI Fellowship Program is a 12-15 week one-on-one mentorship program where you can create a novel AI project independently. This program is structured into 3 parts, where the first 4 weeks are centered around exploring your passions and identifying potential project areas. Weeks 5-8 is the ideation and data exploration stage, where you will analyze data with your mentor to assess the feasibility of your project. In the last couple of weeks, you will focus on executing and polishing your project.
You can also benefit from the publication and showcase support, where you will receive guidance from a publication mentor and submit your project to a high school or college-level research journal or showcase it through a competition submission or presentation!
As the prerequisites for this program include a basic understanding of Python, we’d recommend this program if you’ve already had some experience with computer science and wish to pursue a project!
An overview of the Veritas AI Fellowship
3. Deep Dive Programs
Veritas AI currently offers 2 deep dive programs, which are curated to help students engage in specialized learning of how AI is transforming specific industries.
The first one is the AI + Medicine Program, where you will be introduced to AI topics that are specific to the medical industry, like medical data preparation and image segmentation of the fundamentals of clinical evolution.
The other one is the AI + Finance Program, in which you will delve into how AI transforms financial markets and learn concepts such as risk management, efficient frontier, and universe selection and clustering!
Both programs have a structure similar to the AI Scholars program, and you will have an opportunity to showcase your new skills through a group project!
If you are interested in the applications of AI to specific industries, we’d recommend doing these subject-specific deep dives!
Note. The AI + Finance Cohort has a similar program structure, which you can find here!
Now that we’ve covered Veritas AI’s offerings for high schoolers, let’s take a look at its offerings for middle schoolers.
This program is similar to the AI Scholars program, where you can learn the fundamentals of Python and key concepts in machine learning and artificial intelligence through this 25-hour program.
Throughout the duration of the program, you will be introduced to topics such as multiple regression and tuning neural networks, all while applying these concepts through the interactive coding sessions. The program’s output is also a group project between 3-5 students where you can apply the concepts that you have learned throughout the program.
An overview of AI Trailblazers, as offered by Veritas AI
The AI Junior Fellowship is a 12-week program where you will work with a mentor to create an independent AI project.
In this program, you will receive 1-on-1 guidance sessions to produce a research paper or AI model in your field of interest. If you’re already experienced with coding and have a potential research topic in mind, we’d suggest you opt for the Junior Fellowship!
Note that even as a middle schooler, you can opt for the high school programs - you will just need to prove your academic capabilities!
Veritas AI's Junior Fellowship
Who is eligible to participate?
The guidelines do differ per program; however, some general guidelines that you should keep in mind are:
For high school programs:
You must be currently enrolled in high school or plan to enroll as a freshman in college in the fall of 2023.
If you wish to do the AI Fellowship, you would have had to complete the AI Scholars program or have prior experience in coding.
No previous knowledge is required for AI Scholars!
For middle school programs:
You must be between the grades 6 to 8 to participate in any middle school program.
If you wish to do the AI Junior Fellowship, you would have had to complete the AI Trailblazers program or have basic Python knowledge.
Where is the program conducted?
All the programs in Veritas AI are completely virtual and conducted in an online format! This is beneficial because you will save time commuting, and you can balance other activities throughout the summer. However, you might lose out with the in-person experience and interactions, so you have to prioritize your requirements before you commit.
What are the dates and deadlines for each program?
Winter Cohort 2023: Application Deadline: December 3, 2023 Cohort Timings: December 16, 2023
Spring Cohort 2024 Application Deadline: January 14, 2024 Cohort Timings: February 5, 2024
Summer Cohort 2024: Early Admission: March 17, 2024 Regular Admission 1: April 14, 2024 Regular Admission 2: May 12, 2024 Cohort Timings: June 3, 2024
To apply, you’ll just have to fill out the online application form and wait for the admission team to evaluate your application. Once you receive your admission decision from the Veritas AI team, you can pay the deposit and will receive your onboarding details and mentor allocation to start the program!
What is the cost of the program?
The AI Scholars program costs $1790, and the AI Fellowship with publication and showcase costs $4900. You can also opt for a combination program that includes AI Scholars and the AI Fellowship for $5900.
The cost of the Deep Dive cohorts is $1790 as well, and AI Trailblazers and the AI Junior Fellowship are $1790 and $2900, respectively!
If the cost of the program is a barrier, Veritas AI offers need-based financial aid to all its students! You can avail up to 100% financial aid for the 10-week AI Scholars, Deep Dives, and AI Trailblazers programs.
Is Veritas AI selective?
There are no set acceptance numbers; however, the AI Scholars program doesn’t require any coding experience, so that would be open enrollment. However, the deep dive programs and AI Fellowship include an evaluation process, so there is some degree of selectivity.
In terms of impact on college admissions, previous Veritas students have mentioned their experience and projects on their resumes and college applications and have received acceptances from universities like Princeton, UPenn, Stanford, Cambridge, and UC Berkeley.
What are some projects you can work on?
One advantage of Veritas is the flexibility you have to choose your own topic. Students have worked in different areas such as medicine, finance, gaming, environment, social sciences, and applications for deep learning. Here are a few great topics that former Veritas AI participants have worked on:
Creating a uniform method for diagnosing early-stage Parkinson’s Disease by Anika Doddamane, Summer Cohort 2022
Detection of pump and dump in a micro-cap stock using an LSTM network by Valmik Vyas, Winter Cohort 2023
Detecting Tweets Relating to Disasters Using Natural Language Processing by Mert Iren, Summer Cohort 2022
Efficient Natural Language Processing Deep Neural Network Design by Sandrene Sy, Summer Cohort 2022
Analysis of Starcraft 2 Replays to predict features impacting the League index by Sweeny Han, Summer Cohort 2022.
You can look at some other previous projects here!
Pros and Cons You Should Keep in Mind
The program is fully remote. A fully remote program will not only save you time spent on commuting, but it also control any external costs such as transportation or housing (if you choose to relocate to a new city for the summer) which can be quite the financial burden. Its virtual nature also gives you the flexibility to pursue additional projects and programs alongside your research! Veritas AI is a great option if you want to balance multiple activities throughout the summer or if you’d like to do it alongside your academics.
There are multiple cohorts throughout the year Having multiple cohorts through the year is an added bonus as you can choose a program that is convenient for you. If you’ve already committed to an intensive summer program such as RSI, you might not have time to balance other activities. However, with Veritas AI, you can select the cohort that matches your needs!
Veritas AI offers full financial aid If cost is a barrier for your extracurriculars, you can always opt for full financial aid based on the need to eliminate any financial barriers that students may have.
You will work with mentors from top universities As a participant in any of Veritas AI’s programs, you will work with mentors from top universities such as Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, and Columbia, to name a few. Working with a mentor from a top university can give you an opportunity to learn from their expertise, and you can create a valuable network that can help with college applications. Here’s how you can leverage this opportunity to give your college application a boost - at the end of your program, you can ask your mentor to write a personalized LOR for you.
You have the flexibility to choose your own topic Applying to other research opportunities hosted by private institutes or universities usually involves restricting yourself to a set curriculum and set of topics. You may not necessarily be able to conduct research on a topic of your choice unless you opt for programs that mirror Veritas AI’s structure. Not only do you have the flexibility to choose a topic you are interested in, but you are also provided with a lot more scope to study and learn from multiple topics and disciplines.
You will have a robust addition to your portfolio by the end of the program. Whether you do the AI Scholars program or the AI Fellowship program, the end result of each program is either a group project your individual novel AI project or a research paper. Opting for a program where you’ll have a final project will be useful as you can use this project for your college applications - either through getting them published, applying for competitions, or even mentioning this in the activities section of your CommonApp!
You may miss in-person networking opportunities. Compared to in-person opportunities, there is a noticeable lack of exposure in terms of networking. This can be overcome with a bit of extra effort to reach out to people; however, if you work better in person, you might need to look for other programs.
Doing research with Veritas AI is not a replacement for summer pre-college programs. Summer school programs such as Harvard Summer School or UPenn’s Data Science Academy have the benefit of offering you a college-like experience in terms of housing, social experience, and academics. As Veritas AI is fully virtual, you might miss out on getting the immersive experience of a university student. However, both a summer school and a Veritas AI program will allow you to produce the same output - either a group or independent project.
You will not receive college credit. Many summer programs at universities offer college credit, which can allow you to skip introductory courses in university. While these don’t have an effect on your admission process itself, it always makes university easier.
It is not as selective as other STEM programs such as RSI. There are other STEM summer programs, such as MIT’s RSI or MITES, which are extremely selective and are viewed quite favourably by college admissions officers. However, you can always combat this gap by attempting to submit your work to a prestigious competition or journal that will increase the value of your work. For example, some students at Veritas AI have published their work in journals such as Springer!
What do Veritas Students say about their experience?
– *Caveat* these are taken from Veritas AI’s online reviews on Trust Pilot –
Kyle Wang, a student who currently attends Cornell University, did his project in Predicting Breast Cancer from Genes. He talked about his experience in the AI combination program, and he mentioned that Veritas AI “opened new possibilities for him that he may not have discovered”.
Another student, Fiona V, said that she “absolutely adored the structure and capabilities of Veritas AI”. She also detailed her experience in the Fellowship program, where she said,
“Working one-on-one with another mentor in the Fellowship program has granted me the opportunity to further dive into the specifics of AI. The AI Scholars program taught me the basics of building an AI algorithm but now I could apply an AI project to a larger-scale audience”.
You can see other student testimonials here!
How could you use a Veritas AI project in your college application?
Every Veritas AI Program produces some form of a project, whether it is a group project, a Novel AI project, or a research paper. If you’ve worked on such a project, it would be meaningful to include this in your college application.
When an admission officer sees this experience and your contribution to creating a project, it showcases your determination and passion to go the extra mile to develop a project that addresses a real-world issue.
If you participate in Veritas AI, a key component is how you mention this experience in your college application. Here are a few ways you can mention it:
Submit your project to a competition/reputed journal. If your project or research paper was able to place in competitions such as ISEF Regeneron or get published in reputable journals, this just increases the value of your research as it shows your capability to produce quality work that is beyond the scope of a high school student.
Add the project to your portfolio and activity list. You can mention your Veritas AI project in your activities section in your CommonApp. You can mention deliverables of project milestones that can be considered as ‘work’. Pro Tip - Always use quantitative metrics to show your project’s impact.If you want to show a meaningful impact, we always recommend using quantitative parameters. For example, you could say you “Discovered a polymer that is 5 times stronger than the average market variety and can be produced at 1/2 the price”.
Talk about it in your essay. You can always use your Veritas AI experience in one of your college essays (e.g. a supplemental essay). For example, if your essay asks you to talk about your choice of a subject or a major, you could use your project to talk about your interests and passion for the subject.
If you’re looking for a program that will build your foundations in AI/ML and allow you to pursue an independent project of your choice, Veritas AI looks like a solid option. This is especially helpful if you’re a student who has a niche interest that you’d like to conduct research on.
One great aspect of Veritas AI is the mentors who come from top universities, so you can expect to receive great mentorship and expert instruction. Moreover, the program will give you publication or showcase guidance, which will help you increase the value of your project for college applications.
When looking at testimonials from students, some common points we’ve seen about Veritas AI are praise for the great structure of the program, how it helped build their fundamentals in Python, and the flexibility and guidance they received with their project choice! Some students have also mentioned how a LOR from their mentor has boosted their college application, which is something you can always look out for!
The cost might definitely be a barrier for this program as it is on par with some summer schools; however, you can always apply for financial aid, and you will also benefit from the flexibility of the program. However, full financial aid applications will always be more competitive, so that is something to keep in mind when applying.
Also, if you prioritize in-person interaction and want a college-adjacent program, you might want to opt for summer schools conducted by universities instead!
Another option - Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are interested in doing university-level research, 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.
Manas is a publication strategy associate at Lumiere Education. He studied public policy and interactive media at NYU and has experience in education consulting.