ESP's FAQ

  1. General FAQ
  2. How do I get involved...?
  3. Program specific questions

What is ESP?

The MIT Educational Studies Program (ESP) was created by MIT students in 1957. We wanted, and still want, to make a difference in the community by sharing our knowledge and creativity with local high school students. Since 1957, we have grown to support well over a three thousand students each year. Our original High School Studies Program (HSSP) has been joined by many other enrichment programs over the years, and our agenda changes to best suit the community’s needs.

What is ESP's mission?

Through an extensive offering of academic and non-academic classes, ESP is dedicated to providing a unique, affordable educational experience for motivated middle school and high school students. ESP is a great activity for middle and high schoolers in the Greater Boston area. ESP classes are developed and taught by MIT students, alumni, and faculty, and members of the community. Our students are given the chance to learn from passionate and knowledgeable teachers; our teachers can gain experience developing their own curricula with access to students with a strong desire to learn. The result is a unique, dynamic curriculum and an atmosphere of unparalleled energy. We host the largest student-run program of our kind in the United States.

What do we do?

ESP invites students from all walks of life to come to MIT campus for classes varying from completely fun and non-academic (Duct Tape Design, Bottle Rockets) to the most advanced and challenging (Build Your Own Operating System, Quantum Mechanics) available to students. Our organization aims to provide exciting, thoughtful and meaningful classes for anyone with the desire to learn.

What programs does ESP run?

ESP runs many programs for both high school and middle school students. We have both short-term and long-term programs that offer a wide variety of academic and non-academic subjects. Splash, our biggest program with 2500+ students, runs in November and features classes about anything from "Lambda Calculus" to "How To Grow Hair". Spark is a similar program for middle schoolers in March. HSSP runs in the spring and summer and also offers a wide variety of subjects, but it meets once a week for 6 - 8 weeks. Junction invites students to submit project and research proposals. Accepted students work closely with a mentor on their project over the summer and then attend a 2 week long session at the end of the summer, complete with final presentations.

Does ESP have meetings?

Yes! ESP has meetings every Tuesday at 8pm in the ESP office (W20-467) in the Stratton Student Center on MIT campus. If you are a local undergraduate or graduate student or member of the surrounding community interested in helping us make our programs happen, please feel free to drop by and eat dinner with us! We also have worksessions every Wednesday at 7pm, in the same place.

Where is ESP?

The ESP office is on MIT campus (W20-467). You can go to the [campus map] (http://whereis.mit.edu) to find our location or check out our Where is ESP? section. Our programs also happen on MIT's main campus.

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Who are we?

Who teaches for ESP programs?

ESP's teachers are mostly MIT students, both undergraduate and graduate. We also have a small portion of students from nearby colleges (Harvard, Wellesley, BU, etc.) and adults who teach as well. We vet all proposed classes.

What is our affiliation to MIT?

ESP is an MIT student group. This means that while we have access to MIT resources, we are not MIT. We unfortunately also cannot answer questions about MIT admissions.

Who runs ESP programs?

ESP is entirely run by volunteers. Most of our administrators are either current MIT students or alums. Our main goal is to create and run programs that our students will enjoy!

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Privacy policy

We have a privacy policy available online.

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How do I get involved?

As a middle or high school student

How do I learn about programs?

The best way to learn about programs is to click on the program's tab on the left side of the page. There you can read about each of our programs. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to contact us!

How do I register for a program?

Click on Learn or on the left navigation bar to navigate to a program page. Once there, follow the instructions to register for a program. We do not take registration through the phone or mail (except in the case of Junction, where applications may be mailed in with an email notification). If you have a student account on our website, we will send an email when registration opens for a program.

When do your programs run?

All the time! We have programs running during the fall, spring, and summer! See our Learn section page for more information on which programs run when.

How much do programs cost?

As of November 2016, Splash, Spark, and HSSP each cost $40 for registration. Junction costs in the hundreds of dollars due to the high amount of individual attention each student receives However, cost should NOT prevent you from coming to our programs. We offer generous financial aid. If you think you or your parents would have trouble paying to attend, please fill out the financial aid application when you sign up for a program.

What is the age and grade limit?

Some of our programs admit only high school students and others admit both high school and middle school students. We do not allow any students lower than the 7th grade or younger than 11. Teachers may set grade levels for their particular classes that are more restrictive than the program's. For details on this policy, and information for homeschooled students, see our page on age limits.

Will attending an ESP program help me get into MIT?

Not any more than any other extracurricular program. However, taking part in activities that showcase your interests and abilities will help you get into any college, not just MIT.

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As a local undergraduate or graduate student, or member of the MIT community

How do I get involved?

Sign up to teach for a program! We have a program for absolutely anything you'd like to teach. In addition, if you'd like to help but teaching is not for you, we always have need of volunteers. Contact us to learn more.

When do your programs run?

All the time! We have programs running during the fall, spring, and summer! See our Teach section for more information on which programs run when.

What kind of commitment are ESP's programs?

It varies greatly. Most teachers find that it takes about two or three hours to plan a one-hour class, but some classes are more difficult to plan than others. If you are unsure if you can commit the time, try teaching a few classes for a short-term program, like Splash or Spark.

What can I teach?

Almost anything. For Splash/Spark and HSSP you can literally teach anything (within the boundaries of good taste and propriety). Read What can I teach? and What can't I teach? for more information.

Do ESP programs pay?

Splash, Spark, and HSSP do not pay. Junction does. However, please keep in mind that volunteering to teach a class can offer you just as much - or more - fulfillment.

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As a parent...

How do I learn about programs?

The best way to learn about programs is to click on the Students button from our main page. Here you can read about each of our programs. If you have more specific questions, please feel free to contact us!

How much do programs cost?

As of November 2016, Splash, Spark, and HSSP each cost $40 for registration. Junction costs in the hundreds of dollars due to the high amount of individual attention each student receives However, cost should NOT prevent your child from coming to our programs. We offer generous financial aid. If you think you would have trouble paying for your child to attend, please have them fill out the financial aid application when they sign up for a program.

What is the age and grade limit?

Students must be at least 11 and in at least 7th grade to attend our programs. Please see our Age Policy for a longer explanation and information for homeschooled students.

Does ESP offer tutoring?

No. If you are looking for a tutor in a specific subject, we recommend emailing academic departments at MIT or another university to find tutoring services.

I can't register my child for a program. What's wrong?

ESP encourages their students to take an active role in their learning. One facet is encouraging students to sign up for their own classes such that they may learn material that best suits their interests. Only a student account, which your child must create, can register for a program.

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As an educator...

How do I learn about programs?

You can read about our programs by clicking the program tabs on the left side of the site. If you contact us, we would be more than happy to talk to you about ESP programs that would be the best fit for your students, and help you find ways to encourage your students to participate in ESP programs.

How much do programs cost?

As of November 2016, Splash, Spark, and HSSP each cost $40 for registration. Junction costs in the hundreds of dollars due to the high amount of individual attention each student receives However, cost should NOT prevent students from coming to our programs. We offer generous financial aid, and anyone can apply.

How can I help?

Spread the word! Tell your students and colleagues about ESP programs.

Teach! Though most of our teachers are not professional educators, those that are say they enjoy being able to design their own curriculum, and teach on subjects that they themselves find interesting.

Can programs come to my school?

As of November 2016, we do not offer any such programs.

How do I receive publicity information about ESP?

E-mail the publicity director at esp-publicity@mit.edu and ask for publicity information.

What is the age and grade limit?

Students must be enrolled in seventh grade and be at least 11 years old. Please see our Age Policy for a longer explanation.

Does ESP offer tutoring?

No. If you are looking for a tutor, you can e-mail us, and we can pass the word on to some of our teachers. However, people rarely find tutors through ESP, and you should probably look elsewhere.

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As someone not in the Boston area

Does ESP offer distance learning?

No, unfortunately not. You have to come to our programs to participate.

Does ESP offer housing for its programs?

No, we cannot provide housing for students. However, usually reserve blocks of rooms with reduced rates at area hotels for Splash and Spark; more information can be found under the program page or here.

If I don't live in the Boston area, am I eligible to attend?

Yes, absolutely! We have had people fly in from all corners of the U.S. (and even the world) to come to some of our programs. While most of our students do come from the Greater Boston area, we welcome any student within grades 7-12 to attend.

Are there any other locations with similar programs?

Yes! We have sister programs at several other colleges and universities around the country. Hopefully there will be more soon - Learning Unlimited is working to spread ESPs to other universities around the country! A list of their current chapters is available on their website.

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Program-specific questions

HSSP

What is HSSP?

HSSP is an 6-8 week long program that offers a variety of classes once a week on both academic and non-academic subjects.

When does HSSP run?

HSSP runs in the spring and summer. Sessions generally begin in February and July, respectively, and end 6-8 weeks later.

How much does it cost?

In general, $40 for the entire program (no matter how many classes you take). Very generous financial aid is available on a need-based system.

What is the age and grade limit?

At least 7th grade, or at least 11 years old if homeschooled.

What kind of classes do you offer?

HSSP offers a wide variety of classes, which change from year to year, depending on what classes our teachers sign up to teach. We have had academic subjects like French, Music Theory, Algebra and Neuroscience. We have also offered non-academic subjects like Astronaut Camp, Origami, and The Ethics of Batman.

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Splash

What is Splash?

Splash is a marathon enrichment event for high school students. It inclues short classes and workshops on everything from microbiology and theater lighting to quantum mechanics to chocolate-making.

Where can I find the most current information about this year's Splash?

Information about Splash can always be found here.

When does Splash run?

Splash runs the Saturday and Sunday on the weekend before Thanksgiving every year.

How much does it cost?

Splash will tentatively cost $40 for the entire weekend; generous financial aid is available. This price is subject to change.

What is the age and grade limit?

9th-12th grade, or completing coursework at that level if homeschooled. You may attend Splash a total of four times.

What kind of classes do you offer?

Splash offers a HUGE variety of classes. In past years, students have learned about lambda calculus, how to build a trebuchet, Shakespearean poetry, art, computer science, literature, rugby, Quidditch (really!) and much, much more.

When does student registration open?

Splash student registration opens in October. There is first a lottery portion of student registration. All lottery preferences will be considered equally; there is no advantage to registering early. After classes have been assigned by the lottery, you can sign up for classes or modify your schedule on a first-come-first-served basis. If you have any further questions about the new student registration system, check out the FAQ.

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Spark

What is Spark?

Spark is just like Splash, but for middle schoolers.

When does Spark run?

Spark runs for one weekend in mid-March.

How much does it cost?

Spark costs $40 for the entire weekend. Financial aid is available on a need-based system.

What is the age and grade limit?

7th-8th grade, and at least 11 years old if homeschooled.

What kind of classes do you offer?

Spark offers a HUGE variety of classes. In past years, students have learned about lambda calculus, how to build a trebuchet, Shakespearean poetry, art, computer science, literature, rugby, Quidditch (really!) and much, much more.

When does student registration open?

Spark student registration opens in February. There is first a lottery portion of student registration. All lottery preferences will be considered equally; there is no advantage to registering early. After classes have been assigned by the lottery, you can sign up for classes or modify your schedule on a first-come-first-served basis. If you have any further questions about the new student registration system, check out the FAQ.

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Delve

NOTE: We are no longer offering Delve.

What is Delve?

Delve is a year-long program that offers Advanced Placement courses that teach the standard AP material.

When does Delve run?

Delve runs from late September/early October to May.

How much does it cost?

Delve costs $250, plus a $50 textbook deposit that will be returned with the return of your Delve textbook. ESP also offers need-based financial aid.

What is the age and grade limit?

You must be in high school or at least 14 years old if you are home-schooled.

What kind of classes do you offer?

Delve offers anywhere between 7-10 AP classes. The classes offered change from year to year based on teacher availability; however, some classes (Biology, Chemistry, Calculus, etc.) are offered every year.

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Junction

Starting this year, Junction will be a program for self-driven high school students to carry out an independent study project of their design, guided by a mentor of their choosing. Students will work on their project over the summer and attend a two-week day program in mid-August where they will also learn about a wide variety of other subjects at a college level through hands-on afternoon seminar classes.

When does Junction run?

Junction runs for 2 weeks in mid-August.

How much does it cost?

Junction costs $600. Generous need-based financial aid available. In past years' surveys, the vast majority of financial aid applicants reported they were "very satisfied" with the amount of aid they received.

What is the age and grade limit?

Junction is intended for advanced rising 11th and 12th grade students, and courses are college level. Younger students may attempt the application if they are completing most of their coursework at an advanced high school level and also have the social maturity and study skills to collaborate effectively with 11th and 12th grade peers on class assignments.

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SATPrep

SATPrep is no longer an ESP program. It is now run by another MIT student group, the Academic Teaching Initiative. See their website for more details.

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ProveIt

We are no longer running ProveIt.

What is ProveIt?

ProveIt is a program designed to bring math to middle schoolers in Boston. Teachers from ESP come to a middle school and work in small groups or one-on-one with middle schoolers.

When does ProveIt run?

ProveIt is currently inactive. If you are interested in hosting ProveIt at your middle school, please contact us.

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Splash-On-Wheels

We are no longer running Splash-on-wheels.

What is Splash-on-Wheels?

Splash-on-Wheels is our program to run a small one-day Splash at a high school somewhere around 2 hours away from Boston to reach a different set of student. It typically ran between January and June. Splash-on-Wheels is not currently active.

When does Splash-On-Wheels run?

Splash-on-Wheels is not currently active. If you are interested in hosting a Splash-on-Wheels at your high school, please contact us.

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Last modified on Sept. 27, 2017 at 08:38 p.m.