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The Worcester Polytechnic Institute's (WPI) Frontiers program- Should You Apply?

Stepping into the realm of higher education beckons with excitement and uncertainty. One of the many ways to begin your journey into higher academia is through a pre-college program. Frontiers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a two-week plunge into college life at WPI (Worcester Polytechnic Institute).

As we dissect WPI's Frontiers, we'll uncover its strengths, consider its drawbacks, and explore the invaluable insights it offers for aspiring scholars.

What is the Program About? 

Frontiers is WPI's pre-college program for high schoolers interested in experiencing college life. It offers a comprehensive preview of STEM education while fostering connections among students worldwide. Some aspects of the program include various activities, from STEM learning to humanities workshops, orientation sessions, college preparation workshops, and engaging social events like kickboxing, Dungeons and Dragons, movie nights, and trivia. If you apply, you can expect exposure to college resources, technical support, advice from undergraduates, and valuable sessions on college planning, resume writing, financial aid, and admissions.

How is it Structured? 

The Frontiers program is structured as a two-week, in-person, non-credit residential program focused on providing a comprehensive college life experience at WPI. It integrates STEM exploration with a humanities and arts minor, allowing students to delve into their academic interests. The program aims to facilitate connections among peers globally who share a passion for STEM subjects.

Each day of the program offers a diverse schedule designed to immerse participants in various activities. Mornings typically involve dedicated time to engage in a major program related to a STEM discipline, followed by workshops centered around humanities and arts. Lunch takes place in the Dining Hall, offering a break before the afternoon session resumes with more STEM-focused programs.

Alongside academic exploration, the program provides college preparation workshops covering essential aspects such as resume writing, career planning, and financial aid. As mentioned earlier, it also emphasizes social engagement with sports and social games. The flexible schedule accommodates different time preferences and allows students to learn and socialize within a vibrant campus community.

What Kinds of Courses are offered? 

Frontiers offers courses for rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders, blending lectures, project work, and labs, providing an immersive in-person learning experience alongside faculty and peers. The program is divided into two sessions, each spanning about two weeks. While the specific offerings for Summer 2024 will be confirmed in early 2024, the past courses indicate a diverse selection. These courses cover various STEM disciplines, including Advanced Modern Physics, Aerospace Engineering, Biology and Biotechnology, Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, Data Science, Robotics Engineering, and more. 

These majors are complemented by minors such as Business, Cinematic Storytelling, Digital Imaging and Computer Arts, Psychology, STEM Teaching Workshops, and other engaging subjects. Participants can expect hands-on projects, interactive lectures, and labs tailored to deepen their understanding of these diverse fields.

You can learn more about the course offerings here on their website. 

What are Important Dates and Deadlines to Consider? 

For rising 10th, 11th, and 12th graders interested in the Frontiers program, it's crucial to mark key dates for application and session timelines. Frontiers I is scheduled from July 7 to July 19, 2024, while Frontiers II runs from July 21 to August 2, 2024. The cost per session is $3,995, covering housing, meals, field trips, workshops, and various activities. 

Applications for these sessions open on January 17, 2024, with a free application cost. However, it's essential to remember the April 30, 2024, application deadline, ensuring ample time to complete and submit all necessary materials before this cutoff date to secure a spot in this immersive pre-college experience at WPI.

What is the Application Process like, and what are the Eligibility requirements?

The application process for Frontiers involves several components essential for consideration. Applicants must submit a comprehensive application comprising short free-response essays and a detailed list of their involvements and activities. Additionally, providing transcripts is a crucial part of the application. While official transcripts are preferred, self-submissions are also accepted. Alongside transcripts, applicants must secure recommendation(s) to support their candidacy. 

For international applicants, demonstrating English proficiency through tests like TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test is mandatory. 

Where is it Located? 

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is in Worcester, Massachusetts, United States. The campus is situated at 100 Institute Road in Worcester, making it accessible within the New England region.

What are the Associated Costs? 

 As stated earlier, the cost per session is $3,995, covering housing, meals, field trips, workshops, and various activities.  

There needs to be more financial assistance with this program based on the website's information. However, limited eligibility is based on the family's gross income. Initial deposits are still required in full for students who receive this support.  

Some external scholarships are available for students, including the Jack Cook Kent Foundation, Davidson Fellows, and the SCS Noonan Scholars Foundation. Information on these external resources can be found on the FAQ page of the WPI website!

Is it Prestigious?

Based on the information we've listed about the WPI program, we consider this on the low end of a prestigious program. 

Due to its application competitiveness and price point, a limited range of criteria qualifies this program as competitive from an application standpoint. 

However, let's suggest you are interested in attending WPI. In that case, this program may be a largely positive boost to your application because of the early exposure to campus life and courses on campus

This program is catered for students who want an early preview of life at WPI. Therefore, its application in terms of academic and personal connections is limited to just WPI's campus. 

What are the Pros and Cons? 

What are the pros and cons of the program? Here are three Pros and Cons of WPI's frontier program to consider!


1. Gain a Comprehensive College Experience

Frontiers offers a holistic preview of college life, combining STEM education with humanities, social activities, and orientation sessions. This immersive experience provides invaluable insights into academic disciplines and campus culture, aiding early career exploration.

2. Engage in Global Networking

Students engage with peers worldwide, fostering connections and cultural exchange. This exposure to diverse perspectives enhances social skills and global awareness, a significant advantage in an increasingly interconnected world.

3. Take on Varied Course Offerings at WPI

 The program presents various STEM majors and minors, exposing participants to numerous disciplines through lectures, labs, and projects. This diverse curriculum allows students to explore their academic interests deeply.


1. The High-Cost Barrier

 The program's $3,995 per session may pose a financial challenge for some families. While financial assistance is available based on income, the eligibility criteria might limit accessibility to those with specific financial needs.

2. A Limited Prestige

 While it is beneficial for early exposure to college life at WPI, the program may not have significant prestige beyond its campus. Its competitive application process and limited scope might offer different recognition than other pre-college programs.

3. It is a Campus-Centric Focused Program

Frontiers predominantly revolve around the WPI campus experience. While this provides an in-depth look into the university's offerings, it might need more breadth of exposure to other universities or industries that some students seek in pre-college programs.

While Frontiers provides an excellent opportunity for early college exposure and academic exploration, the program's cost, limited external recognition, and focused campus experience are essential considerations for prospective applicants.

What's our take on it? Should you apply? 

Our take on the Frontiers program at WPI highlights its robust immersion into college life, offering a comprehensive blend of STEM education, humanities exploration, and social engagement. The program excels in providing an early glimpse into campus culture, fostering global connections among peers, and presenting a diverse range of STEM courses. However, despite available financial aid, the cost might be prohibitive for some. Its limited prestige beyond the WPI campus and a relatively narrow focus on campus experiences might be factors to consider. Overall, Frontiers offers an enriching opportunity for high schoolers keen on early exposure to college life and exploration of academic disciplines, albeit within the context of WPI's campus-centric environment.

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you’re looking for the opportunity to do in-depth research on various different topics that are also in the realm of pre-collegiate courses, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs 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 Masters student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelors in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is currently completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers!

Image Source: WPI Frontiers logo


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