Age Limit

In general, ESP runs programs for students in grades 7–12. Our Splash program is exclusively for high schoolers (grades 9-12). Another program, HSSP, includes content for both middle and high schoolers (grades 7-12; at Summer HSSP, this includes rising 7th graders and just-graduated 12th graders). Finally, our Spark program is exclusively for middle schoolers (grades 7-8).

There is a hard age limit for attending ESP programs. All students must be enrolled in at least the 7th grade to attend our programs. We do not make exceptions to this policy. In addition, for liability reasons, we cannot accept any students under 11 years of age. Finally, our last rule is that for fairness reasons, students may only attend 6 years of our programs, regardless if you take more than 6 years to go from 7th grade to graduation. Students may attend at most 2 years of Spark and 4 years of Splash.

Please understand that we have created this policy after much careful thought and deliberation, with full acknowledgement that some younger students are intellectually advanced far beyond their years. Teachers set age/grade limits for classes based on a number of factors unrelated to intellectual or academic readiness, such as the social atmosphere of the classroom. In addition, there is a fairness issue. Many of our programs are very oversubscribed, and allowing a student to attend before 7th grade gives them more years of our programs than any other student, even if they are completely mature and ready for the program.

Finally, when deciding whether your child should attend an ESP program, please also consider whether your child would be comfortable navigating MIT's campus independently.

We request that you please respect our age policy, as it is non-negotiable. All students must be at least 11 years old and in 7th grade (or homeschool equivalent) to attend any of our programs.

Homeschooled Students

Homeschooled students must be working at a minimum of 7th grade level AND be at least 11 years old to attend any ESP programs, and they may still only attend for a total of 6 years (at most 2 years at Spark and 4 years at Splash).

We understand that homeschooled students may not fit into a clearly defined grade. In order to ensure fairness, these students can attend at most 6 years of our programs as well, to include at most 2 years at Spark and at most 4 years at Splash.

Sitting In for Parents

Participating in ESP is a unique opportunity for students to be engaged and immersed in learning. We want them to meet new friends and mentors and explore their interests independently. We encourage our students to take an unusually active role in learning — this aspect relies heavily upon an atmosphere without active guidance from home. Therefore, we usually do not permit parents to sit in on ESP classes. When in the classroom, your child will never be left unsupervised. Our directors are always nearby and available should the students or teacher need any assistance. Contact us if you would like an exception to be made.

Grades and Credit

ESP does not give grades for its classes. For some of the longer term programs where students have work and learn a significant amount, teachers may informally and unofficially grade their students. However, ESP is neither a high school nor a formal institution of learning, so the most we can do is write a letter affirming the grade informally given out by a teacher.

Because ESP is not a formal or accredited institution, we cannot give credit for any of our classes. As with grades, the most we can do is write a letter affirming that a student attended a class and attach a syllabus, with a note from the teacher if they have any comments.

ESP Is Not...

While we take pride in being all we can be, there are several things we are not, either by choice or by law:

  • ESP is not a department of MIT, and we run our day-to-day operations independently. As a student group, we are part of the Association of Student Activities, and we answer to the Student Activities Office.

  • ESP is not the MIT Admissions Office, nor are we formally connected to them in any way. Attending ESP programs will not help get you into MIT any more than any other extracurricular classes would. In addition, Splash classes are not representative of MIT classes, nor is Splash a substitute for the Admissions Office's offerings in helping you decide whether MIT is right for you. The website for the Admissions Office is located here.

  • ESP is not an accredited learning organization of any sort. We cannot provide credit or formally give grades for our classes.

  • ESP is not a company, and does not employ any full-time or part-time staff. The people reading emails you send us and checking voice mail are all busy MIT students, as are the program directors and volunteers responsible for coordinating Splash, HSSP, and all of our other programs.


Last modified on April 19, 2023 at 08:53 p.m.