Crowdsourcing how to be a good parent.

Disclaimer: This isn’t a funny post.  I just need advice if you have a middle schooler.

So Hailey got invited to take the ACT as a 7th grader and she did really well on the English part (WHOOP!) so the Duke Talent Identification Program invited her to take estudies this summer and she’s very excited about it which I’m pretty sure is proof that she was switched at birth.

And I want to support her bizarre need to take tests and classes for no damn reason whatsoever even though I totally don’t understand it but it’s pretty expensive (like a grand) which seems pricey for one summer class you take on your own computer so I want to see if there’s anything better out there before I enroll Hailey.  What’s the best thing your kid ever did during the summer?  Did they take the TIP ecourses?  Did they take another online class that isn’t crazy expensive or that at least gives college credit?

(Usually she does drama classes but she’s starting to feel like she’s too old but she’s too young to volunteer, and she does Hacker and robotic classes but she’s usually one of the only girls and that can be hard.)

Open for suggestions.

262 thoughts on “Crowdsourcing how to be a good parent.

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  1. You should see if shes old enough to go to the John Hopkins summer program. Im a highschool student and a lot of my friends have taken it amd honestly its the best program ive heard of for gifted students

  2. Following this for the future. My kids are still quite young, but I have a future math wiz that I want to foster even with my limited knowledge and general fear of the subject.

  3. My son was invited to do TIP classes back in 2004. It involved 6 weeks actually on campus at Duke and cost $12,000. Fortunately his grandfather had set up a college fund for him so we were able to give him that experience. This was the summer before his senior year of high school. It was very helpful for him to have that experience to prepare him for college. As for your situation, I would say if you can afford it, go for it. Obviously your daughter is an enthusiastic learner (as is her mother, give yourself credit). Just be sure Hailey understands that this is something she has to complete, she can’t just stop in the middle because she’s bored or decides she would rather be playing video games or something.

  4. I work at a university that houses one of the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth programs each summer, and those kids really appear to be having a good time. It seems like summer camp for super smart kids.
    Disclaimer – I am not a parent, nor do I have any affiliation with CTY, but I was a smart kid who would have loved to go to a camp like that with kids who cared more about science and reading than sports and your standard-issue teen drama.

  5. Well first, go Hailey! Second, all of this in middle school? Yikes! All I knew in middle school was tree forts, getting out of homework as much as possible, and pilfering my grandfather’s rhubarb wine.

  6. I got invited to a John Hopkins TIP summer class by taking the SAT as a middle schooler. I didn’t enroll in the classes because they were too expensive for my family. I did do summer programs at Clarkson and University of Rochester, but they were not very worth it. I thought the projects were a little below our age range and sometimes were too paint-by-numbers without the teaching I wanted.

    But as a female that did robots in high school, majored in them in college, and now builds robots professionally(!) if she likes hacker stuff and robot stuff, do not discount the value of mucking around working on her own projects. Go on Sparkfun, Adafruit, and Instructables. They have loads of tutorials. Build a go-kart, build a sumo bot, make an arcade machine. Depending on her coding comfort she could work through the archive of the Embedded Systems course on EdX and make a video game using a microcontroller. Being the only girl is hard and for me it was really freeing to work on my own projects and own my own successes and failures and not have to worry about how I measured up to the boys or having to elbow in to get my chance to do something.

  7. My 7th grader has had similar offers from various organizations that promise that “Learning to tap-dance whilst juggling soot will help him in any future career!” We felt that unless it actually does give him a suitable credit or enable him to enjoy his summer, then it’s a waste of both his time and our money. Surely your daughter could put the grand towards her robotics class?

  8. As the parent of two gifted children, who have grown up to be two relatively normal adults, my advice would be to let Hailey have the final say. She knows what and how much she can handle, when all is said and done. Too much parental pressure sometimes backfires. Or, I could be totally out to lunch. Glad to help! 😄

  9. My 13 year old is in the same boat this summer – too old for most camps, not old enough to help out. She is going to hang out at home, play with friends and hopefully not rot her brain watching YouTube (or kill her little sister who she will be watching).

    I don’t know how important those courses are for getting in to US colleges, but you could always send her to a university in Canada – we do have some pretty good ones, and WAY cheaper than most US ones even if you are an International student.

  10. I have a different view. I’m not sure breaks in the school years should be filled with academic pursuits. It’s a time for students to stop being students and to be kids.
    My view only and I understand Hailey is really keen to do this. I hope you find options that offer value for money and still give Hailey time to enjoy a break from school.

  11. Hi Jenny – Two of my three children participated in Duke TIP and loved it. They are all now successful college and graduate school students (not sure if that’s because of Duke TIP but it obviously didn’t mess them up too much, either). I am from Raleigh, NC and the program is well respected around here (and it costs me a bit to say that, as I went to UNC). Good luck!

  12. Not sure about this particular program, but they may have scholarships available or at least a payment plan so that you don’t have to pay it all up front. And, hey, if you publish a new book soon that should cover it. Not that I’m waiting or anything. 🙂

  13. Gotta do it. It’s too good a chance not to pass up. I mean there’s probably more opportunity now than there was in 1985 in Alabama but one of my biggest regrets in life is not doing this when I had the invite.

  14. I did the Johns Hopkins summer programs a few years (at different schools) and it was amazing, but it was expensive. Do you have a local university that offers similar programs in the summer? I also did girl scout camp and like 12 other camps. I enjoyed all the ones where you didn’t actually have to stay in a tent or pee in the woods.

  15. I did the UTSA Prefreshmen Engineering Program ( and really enjoyed it. Granted, that was forever ago and it was only at the UTSA campus, so clearly they’ve expanded. I have no idea if it cost money, but considering my family could afford it, I’m gonna guess it was cheap or free. I took the SAT through the Duke Talent Identification Program, but we couldn’t afford any of their stuff besides going to the awards ceremony thing, so I’m no hope there. It was through TIP that I found out about Texas Academy of Math and Science ( and had a fabulous education. I ended up getting a National Merit Scholarship by taking the PSAT my junior year, so I’d recommend Hailey take as many options to take the SAT/PSAT as possible to practice.

  16. Get her to Girls Rock Camp ASAP. I work with this organization in my home city and it is amazing. She doesn’t have to have any music experience – just a willingness to create a non-judgmental space for girls to try new things.

  17. My son did a leadership program one summer and then again over a weekend. I think the best part of it was learning to be away from home, but he did gain a lot of confidence that helped in his schoolwork. Also, both kids did mission work with the church and helped with construction on houses. I wish my daughter would have been more open to summer experiences.

  18. That’s a pretty good opportunity, but in the end I would let her decide if it’s something she feels will help her (and hold her interest). There are some really cool girl’s only coding and hacking camps all over the country in the summer, so if she is interested in those I would recommend looking for one. I was always the only girl in my programming classes all through high school, and boy did it prepare me for the working world (which is a majority male in IT). Good luck! Teenagers are hard

  19. I took the SAT in 7th grade (and scored what an average junior was getting!), and thus was invited to participate in a program for the Academically Precocious at Northwestern University in the summer after 8th grade. It was a writing course, and I loved it. I had a great time – didn’t mind doing assignments, met some fun people (who I never spoke to again…except I did meet a friend of one person from my group 20 years later. I guess it’s good to have a strange name.), had some fantastic experiences. I was sort of local, so I stayed at my sister’s apartment and took the train every day, but a lot of the kids stayed in the dorms. So, fancy summer camp with education. I would say, if Hailey wants to do it, and it won’t strain your budget too much, then let her do it. But maybe contact the program sponsor and see if there are any in-person classes that might give her a more hands-on experience before you decide on this one?

  20. My little sister did Georgia Tech’s summer engineering program for middle schoolers. I usually opted to spend my time reading quietly alone and traipsing through snake and insect infested woods, but she really loved that program.

  21. My daughter was offered that same opportunity w/the TIP program and after much research, we found that it was not worth it. Essentially it’s a money maker for them and doesn’t offer any real advantage. The reviews of parents weighed more on the “don’t do it side” for various reasons. My daughter is now in high school taking all advanced classes and enjoyed that summer of freedom!

  22. My daughter also tested really well on the SAT as a 7th grader and did the Duke TIP program. She did an expensive 3 week marine biology camp and loved it. She also got high school credit for it.

  23. I’ve had two middle schoolers who are all grown up now in their 30s. So I am coming at if from quite a different perspective. I do wish I had done some things differently – made different decisions. But – you don’t get to do do-overs. I would say, if it’s something she really really wants to do, and you can (as opposed to don’t want to) afford it, and don’t let her, that is what she will remember for the rest of her life.

  24. She can do this program any time she likes; 7th grade seems too early to me. And keep in mind that these programs are built to sell a summer program, not to enrich the minds of very young students. They get the list from ACT and just send stuff out. If she is interested in taking an away from home class, find something that is what she wants to study/learn, and explore that, rather than respond to the TIP just because they sent it to you. My two cents.

  25. My daughter participated in a women in science and engineering summer program at the university of Michigan at Hailey’s age and it was a great experience for her. They dissected a sheep’s brain and other “nifty” activities, she loved it. Now as an adult she is in grad school working towards her PhD in biology. If your little geek wants to engage her brain for the summer I would say go for it, it’s a great age for exploration!

  26. Jenny, I am so proud and so excited for Hailey!

    I was invited to do the Duke TIP thing, did the whole taking the ACT thing (like Hailey, I rocked the English section… even tho you probably can’t tell it by how I write now. lol)

    I didn’t go to Duke’s summer program, because with the travel it would’ve been too expensive (this was back in the early/mid 90’s when they only did courses at Duke), but I did attend the ADVANCE Program for Young Scholars in Natchitoches, Louisiana for 4 years, and did SMU’s Talented and Gifted program one year.

    ADVANCE was life-changing for me. I was a weird, nerdy girl who read Star Trek novels for fun and who lived in a tiny conservative town, and I was… mostly miserable. I didn’t have a single “real” friend in my town and I read and wrote above my grade level and I loved music that the other kids didn’t and just… it was hard, you know?

    But for 3 weeks each summer I got to go take whatever course I wanted (and there were great offerings– Creative Writing, Shakespeare and Performance, Musical Theatre, Astrophysics, Computer Programming and Science, Psychology, really advanced math classes that were obviously for people who weren’t me lol) and I got to meet other “weird” kids who listened to the same kinds of music, who didn’t think reading for fun was stupid, who dyed their hair with KoolAid and Punky Color, and who came from different religious and racial and ethnic backgrounds that I would have never met in my tiny little town. I met other kids who were queer, who weren’t sure, who were figuring it out, and I got to be around adults who not just accepted and put up with, but who loved and nurtured us “weirdos.”

    I’m crying just typing this and thinking about how much those 3 weeks in the summer meant to me, and how the friends I made there made life so much more bearable when I was back home in small town hell. So many emails. So many AOL instant messages. So many of those long distance phone cards.

    I don’t know if it’s something Hailey would be interested in, if any of the courses they’re offering this summer would appeal to her, etc, but if you’d like to check it out (or if anyone else reading would like to check it out) the website is:

    (also, just let me add that I have nothing against SMU’s Talented and Gifted program. It was a great program too– I just didn’t feel as at home there, like I’d found my people that I needed to know existed. I know there were lots of kids there, though, who felt about it the way I felt about ADVANCE)

    Sorry this is so long. I guess my advice, not as a parent, but as a former gifted kid, would be to look around for in-person programs like ADVANCE and SMU’s TAG program, which are like the best summer camp + nerding out and going to school + meeting people like you things imaginable. Also, I know with both of them, some of the courses do get you college credit. They also both have financial aid available, which is how I was able to get to go. I remember writing the most heartfelt thank you letters to the people/groups who provided the grants for kids who wanted to attend but couldn’t pay for it all… honestly, probably the most heartfelt thank yous I’ve written in my almost 37 years of living.

  27. I did a Johns Hopkins creative writing enrichment program at Stanford when I was around Hailey’s age. Unfortunately, that was the onset of my severe anxiety and depression, so I was unable to enjoy it at the time. However, it was a great opportunity and the program seemed to have its shit together. I would recommend it in general, but online…I don’t know that it is worth jeopardizing anyone’s financial situation, even slightly.

  28. If it were an actual camp interacting with other people, sure! But an online course – no so much.

    If she is still interested in drama, but just doesn’t feel like the classes are a good fit anymore, how about your community theater? People of all ages are encouraged to participate here – it is a good way to try all of the departments, from props and scenery to acting.

    Don’t let her give up in the hacker and robot classes just because she is the only girl. Not only is it a good lesson for her (as the only female in my profession locally for a looong time, I do understand) – it is good for the males in the classes to interact with a female with the same interests and abilities.

  29. I am not a parent and can offer no advice. I do the no your little girl is going to one day rule the world and you are going to be even more proud of her than you are now. (That’s all I got).

  30. Have you checked out a community college class? They would be a lot cheaper, possibly help her meet other students locally and if she audited or did it pass/fail not so much pressure.

  31. I think every kid gets this “invitation” although I could be wrong. Certainly my daughter did. We looked at the cost and laughed about it. She’s now doing well as a music conservatory student and certainly didn’t lose by not participating in it. Seems like a scam to me, but I’m not saying that it is, it just seems like it to me.

  32. Please yes if this is something she wants to do, and you can afford it without a huge blow to your family. Maybe she can work off part of the cost by doing extra things around the house- dusting taxidermied (Sp?) animals- or rubbing your feet- organizing meds/wrapping paper/anything! But if she has the thirst to learn and she has been invited to participate, I’d find any way possible to help her to achieve this. Congratulations on having a child that is not only gifted but wants to pursue using it!

  33. I’m a middle schooler, and if she’s into art, music, or dancing, she could try a fine arts camp maybe? The one I go to is 10 days.

  34. I am not a parent, but I am a teacher who has taught at both Duke TIP and at SIG (Summer Institute for the Gifted – a similar concept with many campuses in the U.S.). I would say that for the kid who loves learning and academics, they are both wonderful experiences – but I know they are also expensive. I have seen kids come back summer after summer and basically grow up at these camps. I even know of at least one couple who met as 7th graders at Duke TIP…and got married about 12 years later. lol

    FYI, I would say that TIP is great for that kid who really likes to focus on ONE thing and go very deeply into it. SIG is better for a kid that has different interests and wants a generally enriching environment where she can explore different things.

    All that is not to say that you MUST send Hailey. Summer is a great time to “let kids be kids” – but some kids want to be learning academics!

  35. I have to agree with Staci and Fatcook1 – the combination of it being online and expensive makes me think that there would be a lot of other, better ways to capitalize on Hailey’s enthusiasm for doing something weird and wonderful this summer (and of course, everything’s sign-up is right now, so lots of good suggestions in these comments – hit The Google). Anything on-site would be a more enriching experience, whether local to you or a gazillion miles away. This also isn’t the only year she’ll be offered a chance at Duke’s programs and many similar gigs – it really is a bit early.

  36. Check if any colleges in your area have any kind of STEM classes for kids in the summer and if they have anything specifically for girls. I don’t know what part of Texas you’re in, but the colleges and universities may offer something.

    A thousand buck seems insanely expensive to me, and like it’s just a way for some program to make money off of a bunch a parents without giving you much of anything back. Seriously, what is she going to get from this that enrolling in AP classes in high school wouldn’t give her? If she’s planning to go to a highly competitive school (I’m talking Harvard/Yale type here) it may matter, but if you’re just thinking of college scholarships, my son’s high school counselor said showing volunteer work and involvement in school and extracurricular activities was what was going to matter for that and late middle school isn’t too early to start thinking about that. (Of course they tell you this in your junior year of high school when it’s years too late to do these things.)

    The best thing my kid did while he was in school, and it was when he was much younger, in middle elementary, was a week-long day camp at the local city arts center. They focused on doing something revolving around the sea for a week with 3rd and 4th grades, so they drew a sea creature, then figured out how to turn it into a 3-D papier-mâché item that they painted (his is sort of a sea-bird). They also acted in a play that they performed for us on the last day, it included pirates and music.

    I don’t know about prices in Texas, but around here $1,000 still would pay a month’s rent on a really decent apartment. She’s too young at the moment but by high school she’ll be able to go on trips that same thousand could help pay for and she may get just as much or more out of those.

  37. I’m in Canada (not helpful for your situation), and the university I work for, Waterloo, has engineering/science/computer camps for kids up to HS. Great alternative for my son who HATED the water and most sports. This summer, he’s going to volunteer at these camps and is SO excited! They also heavily promote STEM to girls on grade school and high school.
    From what I’ve read above, the John Hopkins camps sound like a better more valuable experience than the other one Hailey would do online.

  38. I don’t have a kid that did anything, but I did this program as a middle schooler (I’m 37 now) and it was the best thing ever. Well, they didn’t have ecourses then, because being online was barely a thing then, but I did a brief summer program through TIP at Creighton University in Omaha after taking the SAT in 7th grade, and I honestly wish I did more of those things. I enjoyed them so much more than regular school.

  39. I have a couple of questions :
    – Can you get your hands on anything like a syllabus of what they’re actually going to cover, & how they’re going to do that?
    – Do I understand that they offered her an English/verbal-specific class? Or, something else?
    – Is it something that’s going to be redundant with her regular school? (Implying that it’ll be boring the second time around.)
    – How much of her time should it take out of her day? And how much will she actually end up spending on it? (Is she gonna get all OCD up in there, & spend way too much time? Not that we’d think that her mother’s daughter might manifest those tendencies, for any reason.)

    I’m told by my friends who are into “getting & keeping girls interested in STEM” that she’s at exactly the point where most girls bail on that stuff, mostly ’cause the boys are pains in the ass. Would be sad if she has an aptitude for that stuff to lose her.

    Two other “areas of study” to throw into the mix : music, & foreign language, if she has any interests in those. (There’s some actual science that shows that if you get those in before college-ish-age (even better before HS), there are all sorts of cross-study advantages.

    To ProfessionalRobotBuilder: As a looooong-time professional tech/software geek girl, I say, “Rock On, my Sister!!! You go, girl!!!”

  40. When I was growing up, a local community college had a program called College for Kids, which offered cool classes for kids in various subjects. I recall doing an art one and one on reptiles and insects.
    My own 8th grade kiddo is completely unlike me in that she LOVES science. The aquarium offers classes over the summer, and she’s enrolled in those a few times, and loved learning about fish and the ocean.

  41. My sister did CTY and LOVED it. We were traveling when I was in Jr. High so I didn’t do a program then. I did do summers at Carnegie Mellon and was a cherub at Northwestern in high school. Both of those were for tech theatre, but they had other programs as well. High school sucked for me and those summers were everything. I found my tribes for the first time ever at those programs. I’m still friends with some of the people I met those summers.

  42. Hi. Long time reader, first time responder.
    I used to teach for Duke TIP summer courses, for five years, and it was some of the greatest work I’ve done in my 20 years of teaching. It’s expensive, but it covers everything: instructor/TA for a full day of class, three meals, Residential Hall staff, activities, etc. For some of my students, it was the first time they’d ever encountered people as smart as they are, and that meant so much to them. TIP is about academics and about social life, so you get the best of both worlds. There are robotics classes, marine lab classes, and humanities (I’m a lit professor, so I taught literature courses like Zombies and Vampires, Heroes and Villains, Apocalypse, etc.).
    I’m super happy to talk to you further about this if you or your daughter want more info.

  43. This doesn’t answer your question about the gifted programs, but one other thing you might want to consider for Hailey is speech and/or debate camp. If she enjoys theatre, she probably would enjoy speech. The STEM stuff is also a great idea.

  44. Maybe she can babysit or whatever to help earn a few bucks. Just so she gets an appreciation of the schooling process ($$) in the U.S. At least she has the talent to do it and it would be a shame if she couldn’t. As others have said there are other programs to explore. Encourage her and keep her excitement going.

  45. You would need to verify this is still true, but when I worked in university admissions, TIP students were highly sought-after. If a hot-shot college is part of her dream future, it might well be a worthwhile investment.


    I don’t know if there’s anything better/different out there that she could take but the fact that she’s been asked is fucking AMAZING! And proof that despite all your failings and faults and issues, you’re clearly doing a LOT of shit very, very right.

  47. I’m an undergraduate advisor for the majors in our department at a large public university. Consequently, I see many students coming to college and how their prior experiences (or not) affect their later academic success.

    If Hailey is in middle school now, getting some college credit may be nice, but only if it’s for something that she doesn’t plan to make her career. This is because between now and when she starts college, she’s going to pretty much forget everything she did this summer. As a specific example (I AM a teacher, after all), if she wants to be a physicist and has the opportunity to take a physics course that will get her course credit to skip the first physics course in college, I would NOT recommend it. By the time she enters college and skips to the second physics course, she’ll have forgotten the details of what she learned this summer and do badly in that second physics course. This is a bit of an extreme example, but I think you see what I am trying to say.

    Of course, a student always has the option to not use prior course credit. So in my example, she could opt to take the first physics course anyway, even though she has credit for it.

    I would encourage her to take the opportunity to explore possible career paths without worrying about whether she’ll get course credit. If it’s an experience in robotics or art or astronomy or climate science, if she has an experience that makes her enthusiastic about a future career path, that’s a big win. So many students come into college without an idea of what they want to do, and changing majors several times makes getting a college degree take a long time. In that sense, paying some money now may save you money in the end.

    My two cents!

  48. As a fellow Texan, check out the Youth Adventure Program at Texas A&M (YAP Camp). My now HS senior has gone every summer since 7th grade. They host week-long camps on a variety of subjects, which change each year. My daughter has attended law, medicine, veterinary medicine, drama, and robotics. She absolutely loved it. She was also a Duke TIP kid but did not take any of the courses, so I have no experience with that. Sounds like she will excel whatever path she takes!

  49. Also, if this is only an online course, not a camp in person — online is much harder to stay with and complete. My son’s French class was cancelled in his junior year because they lost the teacher at the last minute and couldn’t hire one to replace her. They give the kids the option of switching to Spanish, dropping foreign language completely and picking up a different class, or taking French online. His school counselor recommended not doing the online French because she’d had two AP straight A students try to take it over the summer and both were pulling D’s and trying not to fail the online course. Online courses are very difficult to complete when you are young and have no social group around you also taking the class.

  50. Nothing helpful from me, but I wish I could enroll on the literature courses Amy described above. Sounds like Heaven. By the way, I am the only female lumberjack student in my class, all of us almost middle-aged. If anyone calls you a girl or a lady in a wrong tone, you gently remind them you can use a chainsaw. Or build a robot that uses one. Go, Hailey!

  51. Something to think about for the future …. if she does well in the SATs (like 1540 out of 1600), expect to be inundated with university materials. I filled a two foot long shelf of stuff when my son got that.

    Because he scored so well, and became a National Merit Scholar, he was also offered a full ride to two universities: The University of Texas in Dallas (not the main campus), and the University of Central Florida in Orlando. The latter is a huge school (66,000 students), and is most popularly known as the location for the movie “Miami Connection,” recently featured on the podcast “How Did This Get Made?”

    He also got some dubious offers, including a weeklong summer program in which he would have met some celebrities. It looked like something that is supposed to look good on a resume, but had no educational value at all.

  52. Hi there! I also tested into TIP in 7th grade in English! I did not end up doing it because it was expensive and I just felt kind of meh the whole camp thing. But, my best friend did go to a TIP camp and really liked it! She took a poetry one where you were in some marine biology center, writing poetry inspired by the location. She said it was lots of fun and she got to meet lots of other bright kids. So, I thought I’d pass that along!

  53. Also look into community college courses. They are much more affordable, should transfer, and you can take whatever subject you like. There is usually not an age limit either. All the major big name universities offer summer courses for high schoolers, but they do cost a lot. If she has an affinity for a particular school though, it’s a great way to see if it’s a good fit.

  54. Oh, and my best friend’s poetry/marine biology camp was through Duke TIP.

  55. I always let my kid choose what they wanted to do. Mine did not to do the TIP summer program or take the ACT. But they have friends who have done it and loved it. If she really wants to do it, and money is not an issue, go for it she will either love it and want to do it again or she will choose not to do it again. Anytime I see a kid who wants to put themselves out in the world, I say embrace the opportunity.

  56. I know firsthand how hard it can be to be a brainy girl child in love with boy-subjects. Hailey doesn’t need expensive summer programs so much as she needs the unwavering gung-ho support of both her parents as she dips toe into the world of her uniqueness, even when she doesn’t get invited to the prom because her grades scare off the boys. She needs to feel safe to become her humongously amazing self.

  57. I’m not sure if it’s the same thing, but advanced placement was not cheap for my daughter. Each school district is different. As for your particular situation, correct me if I am wrong, but are those TIP classes independent from your school? If so, she might qualify for some grants. Definitely look into TIP grants. There are so many available, especially to youth. Talent is highly sought after, therefore, those who are seeking talent are willing to offer grants and scholarships. Even for young teens still in middle and high school.

  58. My son did this in Colorado for a similar organization. He started in 4th grade and did it all through middle school and high school. Our organization is the Center for Bright Kids and they are part of the Western Academic Talent Search (same thing as yours but different region). Our group did a yearly Academic Recognition program up til about 9th grade and my kid won a lot of top 5% of test takers, top 4th grader, Xth grader etc. A fun ceremony with some recognition for his academic achievements. He also took summer camps from 5th through 11th grade on college campuses ranging from 1 week to 3 weeks depending on age. He took courses like Symmetry 101 (a math course), web development, physics (several times), and philosophy. I’m probably missing a few subjects.

    In high school he took the selective college goal track and took AP courses, concurrent enrollment, etc. By the time he took the PSAT (for National Merit Scholarship consideration) and took the SAT and ACT he was an old hand at these tests. He ended up with a 36 in the ACT (top score, kinda rare), and very high SATs including top scores of 800 in his subject matter tests. These things along with his CBK/WATS experience, extracurriculars (Robotics, Band, Karate, Hockey) and volunteer work (Homeless shelter, Pikes Peak Marathon water stop, tons and tons of political activity including voter registration, education, phone banking and canvassing) got him into Columbia University. Of course the financial aid package had to support that and it did.

    So…should she? Depends on her goals. Are the camps crazy expensive, yep! But they do offer scholarships to lower the cost (at least ours did and we needed it). I wanted him to go to these camps because I wanted him to have an expectation he would go to college somewhere for something–an expectation only I had in my family and he seemed to have the inclination and skills for it. And I thought it would be interesting for him to be around other kids as smart or smarter than him though I wondered how he would react. It turns out he found his tribe there and absolutely thrived in this environment. To this day he keeps in touch with people from his camp; his last exit ceremony was very emotional and he and a friend sang “Home” by Phillip Phillips and had everybody crying.

    You could give it a try once and see if it seems like a fit. If nothing else the results of the test gives you a sense of where her strengths are and some tools to advocate for her in High School. At least one summer of camp will let you know if that is a fit and good for her–we knew people who came once and that was it, people who came all years they were eligible, and some who came a few years but not all. Your mileage will undoubtedly vary.

    You are getting to a very interesting stage where, depending on where Hailey is heading in life, you can do some things to help get her pointed in the right direction. I highly recommend groups like Paying for College 101 on Facebook and Grown and Flown. It may seem early. It’s not. If she might be headed to college, learning NOW about options, how to select colleges, what to take in high school, how on earth to pay for any of it.

    This is quite an honor for Hailey and a very exciting opportunity. Feel free to private message me for any additional information. My son LOVED this and we are grateful he had the opportunity.

  59. I participated in the TIP classes on campus at Duke and had a lot of fun! This was ages ago (I’m 32) and I’m sure they cost my parents an arm and a leg. I’m not sure I would have enjoyed the experience as much online, but I never get as much personal enrichment from the learning aspect as the socializing aspect in anything.

  60. I did TIP over the summer when I was in middle school. It was amazing! It’s not the classes, necessarily, but the best thing you can do for a bright, motivated kid is to put him or her around other bright, motivated kids. That sort of energy feeds off itself, and when you get a bunch of kids excited about stuff all together it can be really energizing.

    TIP isn’t the only venue for doing this, but there aren’t a lot of things I did in middle school that I still remember. TIP is one of them.

  61. I have no kids – but the most memorable thing from when I was a kid … I was invited to attend a ‘prestigious’ majorette camp. It cost more than honestly my parents could afford at the time – but they did it. I have the best memories from that camp … we learned to twirl fire, throw knives … it was great! I then spent the next two years as head majorette on our team … twirling fire on the field to the sweet sounds of rhapsody in blue.

  62. My oldest did this, he is currently a freshman in high school. All he did was take the ACT early. I am glad he did so he could see what it would be like for the future. But we did not pay for the extra camps and classes.

  63. Child #1 was like that first scratch pancake, the one you cook as a trial. We played Mozart to my pregnant belly, put flashcards with words all over the house so she could learn to read as an infant, signed her up for music lessons with a teeny violin the size of a cellphone before she was potty trained, and (I’m ashamed to admit) signed her up for chess and latin and math classes.

    Then we realized that kids pretty much all learn to read. Most appreciate music (or not), hate to practice any instruments, and either love or hate doing math. So we gave up on all of that with the next three kids. And yes, Child #1 grew up to have an alphabet-soup of letters behind her name, went to one of the best law schools, and is now a journalist with a named column for the New York Times. But her siblings also have great educations, several best-selling books (one made into a TV series), awards including an Emmy, personal and professional success.

    And not one of them has ever, once, said to me: “Thanks Mama, I owe it all to you for sending me to College For Kids when I was in middle school.”

    If any kids are gifted, I now believe that gift is what you’ve already given them long before middle school. This is a long-winded way of saying that of course you should support your kids, knock yourself out to help them make their dreams come true. But at the end of the day, it’s their own passions that will define their lives, not those you think you can provide for them. Your job is to clap, cheer, and get out of their way.

  64. Space Camp in Huntsville Alabama. It’s as close to space travel as a person can get on earth. They learn practical math, science, report writing, teamwork, problem solving, need I go on? My daughter is now a science teacher and she still looks back on that summer as one of her most fulfilling.

  65. Way cheaper than the summer dance intensives I pay for–and those only last a week. But at the end my 14 year old and I get the warm fuzzy feeling from hearing a professional compliment “her form.” (Note: she is never ever going to be a professional dancer and we all know it. There’s no logical reason for this and the ROI calculations don’t hold up at all.)

    Look–is this a money-making scheme by Duke? Probably. And every university has them. But how many years do you have left of spoiling your daughter and being proud at the same time? Too few. If it’s not causing hardship in other places, I say go for it.

  66. Sitka Fine Arts Camp, has elementary, middle and high school camps. Not so much academic, though the writing programs are outstanding, but all fields of Arts taught by talented people. They have a great drama program, and classes to explore other arts. It isn’t inexpensive, but the cost is commiserate with the boarding and meals. Soon in high school she can burn the midnight oil in all sorts of AP classes. The camp counselors are former students, and work hard to make sure all the kids are not homesick and included in all the activities. My son loved the program, it fills up fast, but there are waiting lists, and always next summer. Plus Sitka is gorgeous and magical, and looks like fairies created the area.

  67. How about tutoring? There are most definitely elementary school aged kids in your area who need reading help.

  68. I did summer classes on my future college campus while I was in high school, and it was an AWESOME experience. Great prep for what college courses were really going to be like, plus I got to meet a lot of other like-minded students who became great connections.

    What’s really valuable is any sort of SAT prep, because the PSAT determines whether you’re going to be a National Merit Scholar and go to college for FREEEEEEEEEEEEE. (Or get paid to go. I did. It was amazing. The PSAT matters a LOT and so many students and parents don’t realize that it’s worth potentially a hundred thousand dollars).

  69. A grand to take a college course on the computer at home? Um NO. But if she had the chance for a gifted camp like Duke, or John Hopkins etc, then yes. I did the (now defunct) Gifted program at Western Carolina in Cullowhee NC and it was so nice to be able to be with kids who were as rapidly curious about everything as I was. We took classe & did field trips &’lived in the dorms, it was awesome. (any fellow Cullowhee kids out there, there’s a Facebook group with people from the 70’s-90’s if you want to reconnect)

  70. My kids have done SIG day camps (both kids) and residential (one kid) and been happy. They have an online summer program that is $450 for one course; $950 for two. I don’t have any experience with the online programs though. Also it’s only through age 12 – not sure when H’s bday is.

  71. I’m usually skeptical when things cost that much money but all that aside, remember that your smart daughter is going to be happy and successful regardless. We sent our kids to none of these things (partly because of the high cost and a lot because we weren’t willing to give up summer time with them). They are both successful and going to GREAT universities and well on their way to being good adults. So keep in mind that there is no way to be a perfect parent and there are LOTS of ways to be a great parent and you can miss some of those more expensive great experiences and give her other great experiences.

  72. You might want to try They have online courses from many different colleges (Including Johns Hopkins) in many different disciplines, AND you can audit most of them for free. They have a subscription for $49 a month, so it’s worth a look.

  73. My daughter, fourteen this summer, is taking a two week (last year we only did one week) long camp at the local University for speech and debate. She stays on campus the whole time and it is a small fortune, but she absolutely loves it. She loves studying laws and amendments, making cases, etc… If Haley is passionate about it and wants to do it, I say go for it.

  74. I don’t know what’s available in your state, but after I got the Duke TIP award, I went to two camps put on by the Center for Gifted and Talented Studies in Kentucky. It was expensive, but I was able to get sponsors. Those classes gave me a huge advantage in high school, advanced studies in law, genetics, and Spanish. You might look at state colleges and see if they offer similar programs.

  75. First, my background. I did a program like this back in the Pre-internet days. It was the West coast equivalent of the CTY program at Johns Hopkins. I mention this because you might see for the future if UT Austin or Rice or someone has a similar summer program closer to you. I took a Marine Bio course which was cool but also a lot of work. And I’m now a professor in Biology (although not marine bio). So I do think these programs are great for exposing kids to their potential, new ideas yadda, yadda,yadda.
    BUT, I also want to urge you to help Hailey be well-rounded. Go out for swimm team, take a dance class, so something fun that she doesn’t have to stress about being good at. Based on what you post about your artistic abilities (amazing!) and your creative family trips this is probably unnecessary advice. But I see too many kids in my job as a prof who hang their entire identity on being the 4.0 kid. And this hurts them soooo badly in so many ways. So keep some balance, especially during the summer.

  76. MIT has their entire curriculum online for free. Maybe there are programs or tutors to provide some structured path through some of those courses over the summer.

  77. My daughter got the invite to take the ACT in 7th grade and did amazingly well on the English section. I did not sign her up for the summer classes. It was way too expensive and the programs were for classes actually held on school campuses far away. She will get invited next year. And the year after that. And you will get emails for all kinds of “opportunities” that really just feel like chances for someone else to make money. I say wait until high school.

  78. I did the SAT in 7th grade and was invited to Johns Hopkins programs like many others posted (I feel a lot less special now lol) I never did them because they were expensive. I had wanted to be a marine biologist, and our vocational school had a good program and a 1 week summer camp for middle schoolers (grew up at the Jersey Shore, so ocean access wasn’t an issue) I did it twice. It sounds like you have found good programs for your daughter before. I think whatever combination of what she wants to do and what you can afford will be absolutely good enough. And I don’t mean that in a ‘bare minimum’ sense. Even if it is just guiding her to the right youtube channels and giving her an extra pair of hands for her own projects it will be good. I think all this extra stuff just causes stress and pressure for the kids and extra financial and emotional stress for parents. It’s okay to not do ALL of the things. If she learns how to make her own path in her interests; that lesson will serve her far more than some expensive course that is apparently offered to a lot of people – (not that your daughter isn’t bright) but not many people take for the same reasons.

  79. Your daughter is obviously your clone, so I don’t believe she was switched at birth unless you had another clone in a storage room somewhere for swapping purposes.

  80. My son attended a day camp with They had great instructors–and it’s set up into age-appropriate sections. They have some “on campus” options, too, at some amazing campuses. (They teach various computer languages and software mods.)

  81. I wouldn’t be that psyched to pay that much for an online program…i think they charge that much b.c. it says DUKE. I would try to find something hands on with girls and robotics.

  82. My feeling is that any in-person experience beats the stuffing out of a virtual class, no matter how prestigious. There are lots of online classes these days that she could do anytime for very little cost, but to me that’s like chewing gum with the wrapper on. The most enjoyable part of all those enrichment activities was always hanging out with my like-minded peers, not the course itself. So I’d recommend looking for something offered locally, perhaps at a junior college, or another residential program like Harvard Summer School. There are need-based scholarships available but I’d bet you could crowdfund a full program for Hailey in about half a day.

  83. TN allowed dual enrollment for gifted middle school kids during summer courses. Credit hours for college. Community college and university classes. Took drama literature and history classes. Parents responsible for fees.

  84. I was in the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth program, but that was over two decades ago now. As I remember it, I got a scholarship to take one course at a local college. I took programming back when Pascal was the language of choice. But that was during the normal college semester, and I went to evening lectures with the college students. It was probably a good thing my mom talked me out of the women’s studies course I originally wanted to take…Not sure this is helpful at all, but I loved taking that class.

  85. Can she still do the horse camp if she does this e studies thing? I am a firm believer in having the kids get that time away from home, to develop independence in a safe environment that doesn’t include me. I would put a lot of weight on that camp, especially if there is conflict between the two. Academic opportunities abound, but that time away is hard to come by.

  86. As a science
    teacher and a Mom to an only daughter who is academically adept; that Johns Hopkins thing is an enterprise designed to make money. I routinely get requests to recommend students they can market to. I sent my kid to an art summer institute at a college that she brought to my attention – best summer activity ever – for her. Some of the Leadership Institutes are designed to stoke the parents ego by inviting their kid to participate in a very expensive and impressive sounding program. Some are good, but I’ve found letting the kid’s interest lead the way works best. Good luck!

  87. My kid was, like, crazy smart. So, she didn’t fit into our suburban middle school very well, and those years were basically hell for her. When she qualified for the Duke Center for Summer Studies, I really believe it saved her. She said, “Mom! Everyone here gets my jokes! They have read the same books I have. They don’t accuse me of using big words.”

    She went every Summer, 7th – 10th grade. She keeps in touch with many of the friends she made.

    She has since graduated Magna Cum Laud from undergrad in three years, and then went to Duke Law School. I’m not sure what would have happened, if she hadn’t had the three weeks each Summer with “her own kind” but I’m glad we didn’t have to find out. Best thing we ever did for her.



  88. I would have died of happiness if I had gotten a chance to do something like that.

    Yes, it’s expensive but I’d be willing to bet it will literally be life-changing. Not to mention it will look REALLY good on later college applications which helps nab scholorship money which is vital to getting out without a huge burden of debt.

    If she wants to do it, and you can afford it, you should absolutely let her do it.

  89. My nephew also took the ACT in 7th grade and participated in Duke TIP from 7th— 12th grade but did the camp, not an online class. He had amazing experiences, learned a ton, and made life-long friends. He would 100% recommend the program to anyone who was offered an invitation to attend.

  90. I did a “Summer Youth University” program a couple times in jr high and they were fabulous and a highlight of my scholastic career. It let us get a broad overview of all sorts of faculties, facilities and Uni life in general. (only in a university setting can you be sitting there eating your lunch and have people come up and ask if they can do a brain scan on you because they don’t have enough of a “normal” samplings… unfortunately we were too young to sign consent forms. 🙂 ) I know a lot of the enjoyment came from being in a group of other kids who were just as excited about learning for it’s own sake…

  91. I’m not a parent, but I was what they called a “gifted child” and was in advanced programs in school at a young age. For what it’s worth, I would have loved if my parents had been supportive enough to nudge me into something like that (I suffered from the “smart, but lazy” problem).

    I don’t have experience with TIP specifically, but depending on what the course is, it may look good on college applications when she gets to that point. But, of course, so would hacker and robotics classes (especially if she applies for STEM programs in college). There are tons of summer programs that she could take and they all will hold some benefit; the weight of it depends on what she ends up wanting to “do,” though, and she probably doesn’t quite know for sure in middle school.

    The most important thing is to give her some direction and keep her motivated and challenged, and make sure you’re giving her support. None of those seems to be an issue, here.

  92. I would say that if you can afford it, I think it’s an experience that would be valuable. Not necessarily good or bad, but valuable. That said, when I was a kid, my parents couldn’t afford a lot of opportunities and I hated camp… my poor, poor parents.

    There are definitely more opportunities nowadays and Hailey could be a part of programs like Girls Who Code. And because I’m an improv nerd and that is on the rise in theatre, she could always do an improv summer program within her age group. But if Hailey really wants to do TIP, that may take precedence.

  93. Do you already know that online learning works well for her? If not, find out first – even if it’s just a little cheap Udemy course. We thought online learning would be PERFECT for our brilliant kidlet because she loves the computer and loves online games, etc. We found out that did NOT translate to learning for her – it literally depressed her – she really needed the interaction with a teacher in person. I wish I had more relevant advice, but that is one piece that could make a big difference in choosing whether to spend that kind of money.

  94. I am 38 and took the SAT in 7th grade. I qualified for the TIP program at Duke, but ended up going to the Paula program at St Mary’s College in South Bend, IN (I think it kind of morphed into what they are now calling “Summer Academy”, but when I was there it was more straight-up nerdy.) It was a two week residential program, and it was the first time I really found my “tribe”, It was a wonderful experience. Even though it was academically rigorous, the real benefits for me were primarily social. I went on to be a national merit finalist, get my masters, blah blah blah.

    A good friend of mine went to TIP at Duke 25 years ago and had a very similar experience.

    Like others have said above, in-person camp experiences for smart kids can be fantastic, expensive online classes are kind of pointless.

  95. My older daughter did the talent search thing in 1980s. She studied Latin and Calculus at NWU. Came back swearing like a Marine boot. Ended up as a Civil Engineer.

  96. A lot of people are discussing “going to TIP” as opposed to “eStudies” – if Hailey is a social creature (as I suspect) she will get much more out of a “go and do” class than she will from eStudies.

  97. Coming out of middle school, my kid signed up to do summer classes offered by our school district (Seattle). She, too (weirdly), wanted to go to school in the summer (some kids!). The first one was after 8th grade, when she did a program on graphic design, and then after 9th grade she did another on multi-media. Both were 4-week, half-day programs that were worth 1/2 credit toward HS graduation, and fulfilled most of her requirements for “career & technical education”, freeing her up to take more electives during the year. Both of them let her meet kids from all over the city, too, and she learned how to get around on the Metro buses. It was like practical life-lesson summer camp, for zero dollars. So, that was a win.

    On the flip side, I was a talented violinist at age 11, and we moved to a town with no teachers. My parents balked at driving me long distances to lessons, so I had to give it up. That sucked.

    I don’t think you’re in any danger of forcing your kid to give up their dreams, with or without this particular program. So, I’d say to go with your gut on whether the time & money will bring them joy and advancement. Don’t feel pressured into it, for sure.

  98. Do you have access to Gale Courses through your library system? There are a variety of courses in a lot of different areas, and all free with your library card.

  99. The summer after her junior year in HS, we enrolled our daughter in a 3 week course at the Art Institute of Chicago for which she earned college credit. It was several thousand dollars, but well worth it for her to decide in advance that Chicago was a nice place to visit, but she didn’t want to go to college there. Other than that she attended 4H camp for several years and had a blast.

  100. My daughter did the Duke test thing and got a score one point shy of perfect. She had the option of taking a week-long camp in town at Creighton University, which is what she did.

  101. I took the SATs as a seventh grader and scored well enough to get invited for a similar program through Johns Hopkins’ Center for Talented Youth (CTY). I didn’t do it because it was too expensive, but I did take one of their online (less expensive) classes to accelerate my math track (basically skip a grade, they wouldn’t let me do it in elementary school). I did love geeky/nerdy camps though. There are probably other options out there that would be less expensive and a similar idea, but I would ask around to see if they are actually worthwhile. I remember doing some I liked in elementary school but they were pretty local.

  102. As a teenager, I took the TIP summer classes – they were by mail, way back then (it’s been a few decades), and less expensive. I enjoyed taking them, and I learned a lot about self-motivated studying, but they never gave me any college credit to pass on. These days, high school students are taking ACC classes (and other community colleges) at the same time as their high school classes (dual credit classes). It’s amazing, but I’ve met several bright kids who’ve received their associates’ degree at the same time as their high school diploma, and that got them a (mostly free) jump start on their college education.

  103. You are probably overwhelmed with all the thoughts and advice, so this probably won’t help much. My son also scored very high on the ACT in middle school. High enough to qualify for college scholarships right then. There were no programs offered to him that he was interested in, (which is probably good as I couldn’t have afforded them at that time) and he entered into high school wanting to go into computer engineering. He scored amazingly high on all standardized testing. Colleges courting him left and right. During his sophomore year of high school he fell in love with sports medicine. Want to know where he is right now? After all my hard work to try and talk him out of it (for my sake, not his) he is a combat medic for the Army, and loves it. He talks of college eventually, probably for sports medicine. We’ll see.

    My point is, 7th grade is very young to (in my opinion) spend so much money on a course that offers no forward credit (high school or college) and no interaction with others, that she may or may not continue further down her line of studies. I have a daughter in high school now who is currently studying Drama/Musical Theater, but has recently turned her sights on psychology. Unless it gives you something she can carry forward substantially, I can’t see the reasoning to spend that kind of money.

    Whatever you do, it’ll be the right choice for you and your daughter. Because you know her best.

  104. Not my kid, but when I was young (grade 8 through 11), I went to Satori Camp at Eastern Washington University. It was a pretty big deal for me – the camp is designed to mimic university courses over a week or two, and you take 3 classes a day in things like human anatomy, creative writing, engineering and whatnot. It was totally awesome and amazing – I was traveling alone, internationally and spending a week on a big university campus. I would 100% recommend it to anyone. Made some great friends, realized I wasn’t alone in being an academic nerd, realized nerds could be cool, and got to dissect a real human body (still a highlight of my life).

  105. This happened to my daughter and she took one summer class and loved it! We made sure she knew it was strictly for fun so the class she chose was a topic she was really interested in. And she did great on the ACT then and now, as a junior, and she really enjoyed her experience. The key for her was low-pressure and for us it was low(ish) cost.

  106. I believe as many have said that a lot of kids take this test and get invited. It’s almost like vertical marketing. My sons have run the gamut of taking a summer class to get a 1/2 semester ahead, taking horseback riding to actually learn to control horses, to getting jobs. I think that the horseback riding may have been a favorite at the time, but the job seemed to be enjoyable and came with pay.

  107. My nephew did CTY for a few years. It’s pricey, but it seemed to expand his horizons. However, I tend to freak out when parents send their kids to my SAT courses when they are in middle school. High stakes testing is too stressful at that level. Is your daughter interested in the courses?

  108. I wouldn’t sign mine up for an online class. I would consider it if he was interested in going to a camp at a college and being in an actual class, with actual people. I personally think this is a money grab.
    I’d like to see my kids go to a hands on camp at the nearby University or Community College.

    She’s at an in between age. It’s tough. I hope that she is able to simply enjoy the summer and the time off. I hope that she has something to keep her interested, but not stressed. She doesn’t have too many summers off anymore. Mine both work in the summer now. I like it because it keeps them busy, social, and off their behinds on the sofa. But I encourage them to plan on time off as well. It’s summer. They’ll be working full time in no time.

  109. I don’t have any understanding of the current programs for kids along these lines, but I will say that the benefits to being in a program like this are really, really tremendous.

    When I was in High School, I was in a mixture of advanced classes and “standard” classes. The standard classes were pretty uniformly terrible, for the simple reason that my other classmates cared not one whit about the classes. They were there not because they wanted to be, but because they had to be.

    In the advanced classes, the atmosphere was completely different. The enthusiasm of the other students (and the teachers) was infectious. These classes tended to be slightly more difficult in terms of course work, but were such a hugely better emotional experience that overall there is simply no contest: the advanced classes were far easier on me emotionally, and thus far easier overall to cope with.

    One thing that might mute the advantages of this class for Haley is that it’s an online course, which will reduce socialization opportunities. I’d definitely check and see what sorts of ways the class facilitates communication between students (if any). You might want to look into any local community colleges or universities to see if they have similar programs for pre-college children.

    And if it turns out that she doesn’t like the program, no matter which you select, I’d pull her out in a heartbeat. This should absolutely be something she enjoys. And while it will definitely look good on a college application, it’s not really that critical. If she really wants in a top tier university and can’t get in straight from college, she will not be hurt by going to even a community college for the first couple of years (personal note: I started at a community college, and graduated with a Ph.D. in physics from UC Davis). She can always transfer later.

  110. Check your state universities, go to their website and lookup middle school camp or girls camps. Both of our localish ones offer day and then sleep over camps in STEM, and other gifted topics, for both middle and high school kids.
    They are fairly cheap, if not free, and offer scholarship opportunities, depending on the camp.
    An internet friend that is a professor, introduced me to the camps when my oldest was in middle school.

  111. I took a college course at the University of Texas at El Paso when I was in junior high. I don’t remember what the class was, but I remember my dad driving me to it and giving me a candy bar to take with me as a snack. It was a summer class, I put the candy bar in the pocket of my shorts, and it melted. I believe my point was its possible she could take a course at the closest university or community college and get credit.

  112. Another vote for CTY. There’s a diverse array of classes, and spending 3 weeks with smilarly oriented kids was huge for me.

  113. I’ve looked it to some of these programs and they are so massively expensive. I wanted to give my kids the same experience I got when I was in middle school. I went to a summer program it was 2-3 weeks long and had different science classes (biology, chemistry, physics, etc). It was so much fun. But the cost (in the mid 90’s) was only $200 plus air fair. Now programs like that are multiple thousands of dollars.
    I don’t think I’d pay that much for online classes. For me going was so much more than just going to class. It was an all girls college, so the program was all girls. A hundred or so girls all of similar ages and all interested in science. Of actually sitting in college classrooms and labs. Interacting with professors and experiencing dorm life. It was amazing.
    But yeah just an online course? It won’t be the same at all. But probably good for feedback on her writing.

  114. I qualified for the Duke program back in the 90s but we couldn’t afford to send me. My son qualified a few years ago but no way on earth was I sending a kid that age to live in a dorm on his own! Also, I couldn’t afford it.

    Here’s what I did instead. The summer after 9th grade he took one college class as a dual-enrollment student. It went well so for 10th grade we pulled him from his charter school (which we pretty much hated) and enrolled him as a homeschooler and then as a homeschooled dual-enrollment student.

    We do ZERO high school work. He takes all his classes with the state college. Tuition is free but I have to pay for his books/online access codes. When he turns 16 in a couple months, I will graduate him out of high school and he will become a “regular” student at the college. Pell grants will cover his tuition AND his books, and leave him a few bucks each semester to buy lunch on campus.

    By the time he was supposed to have graduated from high school he will have a college credit certificate, several industry certification, and an AA, with an AS to follow one or two semesters later. If he decides to pursue a BS, he’ll have it by his 20th birthday.

  115. I think she is saying it’s a thousand dollar E-class. She wouldn’t be going anywhere just using a computer from home. If that is correct- that sounds like a marketing ploy like that Who’s Who book they had in the 90’s when i was in school. Having people pay money to feel smart & important. But if it counts toward college that may be something. There is time- and my sister took college credit courses at the community college & graduated high school early so… Hard saying 🙁

  116. I would totally let her do it. In my sons’ district,there’s insufficient opportunities for gifted children, so I try to give him a chance to do whatever I can to give him an extra nudge if he expresses any kind of interest.

  117. My son did 4 summers on college campuses with the Johns Hopkins CTY program. Every year, it was totally his choice, made easier by one set of grandparents funding it. He qualified by taking the SAT in seventh grade. He loved those summers, got a lot out of it, but he remained an average student in school and struggled with college admissions, eventually taking five years to complete his undergraduate degree. Looking back, I still think the CTY program was worth it, but I never would have pushed him to do it.

  118. My husband did the Duke thing but on campus. If you can go away I think it’s totally awesome. My kids always do a week at the local zoo and love that. If she really wants it and you can swing it I say do it but otherwise I think real experiences not computer experiences are much better. Even taking a class online but with a group of kids in the same room like a robotics thing or a Minecraft thing or what have you is so much better than just sitting in front of a computer at that age.

  119. Hi Jenny, I do this kind of consulting for a living & am also a blog-reading/book devouring fan of yours. I will email you.

  120. My daughter, now 20, did a TIP program at Appalachian State University in North Carolina. She still is in touch with some of them. If you can afford it, I think it’s worth it. it did dramatic things for my daughter’s confidence and for her ability to get along and be a leader.

    At least when she did it, you didn’t have to go far away. There were programs in almost all the states, and if you couldn’t afford or didn’t want to go to Duke, there were other places to choose that were less expensive but equally valuable.

  121. My daughter (13 yrs old…ugh) has been going to YMCA Camp Grady Spuce in Texas for several years. She loves it & it’s fun and relaxing.
    Summer is about exploring new things and having fun. Getting away from school’s yucky stuff, whatever that is for each kid!

  122. Camping or a week at a college program – somewhere that will challenge her, let her meet people who are different, and let her grow…and that can look pretty different for lots of people. Your kid seems pretty amazing already, just as an FYI…

  123. For something still STEM oriented, but different. Junior Boiler Vet Camp at Purdue is pretty cool. It’s an immersive week-long camp introducing middle schoolers to what it’s like to be a veterinarian. Lots of hands on activities, and animal encounters.

  124. Send her. Hock your dog to send her wherever she wants to go/ can get into… She’s going to be the one taking care of you as you age; give/get her all the advantages your can.

  125. Yes yes yes to Duke TIP, Johns Hopkins CTY or Northwestern CTD. My daughter has done CTD for 3 years and it is a high point in her year! BUT….if possible do the on-campus program , as opposed to online. The connections with like-minded kids is unlike any other experience. I swear by CTD ( and the TIP and CTY are exactly the same idea) and even tho it is pricey, it’s worth it in the happiness and connections my kid gets from it.

  126. My daughter did the Duke TIP program a few summers and loved it. She did one summer for one or two weeks at Duke and twice at the University of Kansas.

  127. My 13 year old son is attending Duke TIP at the Duke campus in NC this summer(it’s not a scam)For us, the e-studies were not a great option, because and as a poster above stated, the hands on experience was what we were interested in. It’s pricey- but he will be living on campus for three weeks. I don’t think I’d do the e-course, though- just my thoughts- Keep us posted!

  128. I see many non parents suggesting holding out for something for credit at attending summer college courses. As a Texas parent, I must warn you that some for credit programs will make her ineligible for participation in UIL or other high school competitions. Be sure to check with her school before going that route.

  129. TOO OLD FOR DRAMA?!? Tell that to Dame Judi Dench! (I honestly don’t know enough about what’s going on in schools these days. I hope she finds something she loves.)

  130. As one who’s education got messed up by my illnesses starting in High School …. and as one who would have LOVED to participate in advanced opportunities – if Hailey wants to do it – let her. I did get to be a part of a national Model United Nations for a week in NY in 10th grade and a Page at the MD State Senate for a week in 12th grade. It was awesome to do something special then and still holds special memories now. These special opportunities have shaped who I have become. Priceless opportunities.

  131. Ask Hailey what SHE wants to do. Do it. Money isn’t the question. Letting HER decide and live with her decision is priceless. You’ve obviously raised a smart child – now empower her.

  132. My daughter is about the same age but she does not like tests or smart classes which proves she wasn’t switched at birth because I don’t either. So I don’t know that I can help much with this decision. But to answer your question about the best thing she did over the summer (and we did it together) was volunteer with the special needs cats at Best Friends in Utah. We live in the Chicago area and took a trip out there two summers ago. We volunteered at Quincy House with cats who are paralyzed and have other severe special needs. She still talks about the cats we met. She made a short video about the cats and now wants to be a filmmaker.

    I know this won’t help with your decision but definitely make a trip to Best Friends and visit the Quincy House cats some day – though maybe not in the summer cause it was crazy hot when we were there.

  133. Oklahoma State University has a summer science program that was a week long and my daughter loved. Not very expensive. Exposed them to a lot of different areas of science. They also got to stay in a dorm and plan and cook their meals.

  134. I took my summer course through Western Kentucky University instead of Duke. I think it was cheaper?

  135. Both my kids had friends who participated in Duke TIP camps and loved them. One of my daughter’s best friends did camps with them every summer from 7-11th grade (mostly writing camps). My niece (15 at the time) did a Duke TIP camp in marine biology last summer and thoroughly enjoyed that as well. On the other hand, my kids both qualified for the program, but weren’t interested at all in the camps. I think since your daughter really wants to do the camp (as my niece and kids’ friends did), she would enjoy it. However, everyone I know did the on site camps, not the online ones. You could check and see if any of the on site camps are available for her age. Also since she has qualified for the program, she will be eligible throughout high school to participate in the Duke TIP program. The camps get even more varied for the older kids. I don’t think you can get any college credit for the programs, but the college Common Application does ask if you have participated in any of those types of summer study programs, so I guess it could look good on college applications.

    I’d also second (or third) the recommendations for Space Camp in Huntsville, AL. My son did that camp in middle school and loved it. We’ve also done the family camp with them which was a lot of fun.

  136. So, if she did well on the ACT I would check out her post secondary enrollment options. The program, in Ohio at least, lets you take college classes for both college and school credit on the State’s dime. I loved every minute of the classes I took. I was able to take ceramics classes and developed a deep and abiding passion for all things clay. It was fantastic, and when I went to college I was already (credit wise) in the middle of my sophomore year.

  137. I’ve been teaching middle and high school for the last 20 years, and TIP has been a game changer for tons of my students. They LOVE it! They’re most often my fun, quirky, motivated, spuer-bright students who simply love learning. At TIP, they found their tribe and loved going back year after year. Worth every penny!!

  138. Jenny, look into the summer programs at TCU – I’ve heard good things about them and it’s good exposure to a strong (somewhat local) school.

  139. It’s cool to be invited to participate in something like this – sometimes cooler than actually participating. If she’s mad keen on the content and you can afford to let the grand fly away, sounds like a win/win. As long as she’s keen on actually doing it. Sometimes an invitation can become an unwanted obligation

  140. But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I took an applied math course at Ball State (good ol’ Ball U) the summer when I was a rising Senior in HS. (Insert your own filthy joke here.) It was great. I got to pretend I was an adult, (yeah, right), eat obscene amounts of pizza, have my bike stolen (that part wasn’t great, but I learned I could deal with it), ogle the co-eds with no chance of anything happening, and then be a “college guy” my last year in HS. It did wonders for my self-esteem. And I didn’t even have a cell phone like Halley would have.

  141. This is a coding camp just for girls. There are a lot of serious companies that like to find new talent from this camp and hire them later on. Hope you find the right thing for her!

  142. Well, that’s not what I wanted to post. Well, it is, but only half of it. Oh, Eff-it.

  143. Agree w some previous posts that say the program is primarily a money maker for Duke. My daughter was involved from an early age, and didn’t get anything out if it. Highly recommend Broadreach when she’s of age. They create 3 week experiences based on interests, combine service and learning and provide college credit. Well worth the expense.

  144. My son is on the spectrum and a total nerd. We live in the St. Louis area and he attended the Duke TIP program at Davidson College in Davidson, NC for two years. Getting out there and meeting new people really made a positive impact on him for life. He took math related classes and went on to tutor many kids in high school and college. He’s currently getting ready to start rotations for his last year of pharmacy school and following graduation will do a two year residency. The math and science was always his thing. He returned after camp that first summer a much more mature and confident student. I’m very happy he was able to attend.

  145. This is a ways down the road for your daughter but i want to share w folks my high school: its a network of fully scolarshipped (at least for americans) international high schools around the world for the last two years of high school. Highly recommend for talented youth!

  146. Duke TIP is a GREAT program. I have friends that teach there and the students always have a wonderful time and learn so much!
    That being said, I am a Director and I have to say that she is never to old for Theatre! If traveling is not an issue and she really enjoys what it, Destination Broadway is a wonderful program. They work on dancing, singing, acting, they meet Broadway actors, and go see shows. (They also offer scholarships) It sounds super intimidating, but I promise you it is not! Based on the short videos you have posted, I PROMISE YOU, she could do this!
    This might be a good middle ground between planning for her collage career and doing something she loves at a higher level.

  147. You are much more likely to regret the things you don’t do, than the things you do. I would let Hailey decide if she thinks this is a worthwhile way to spend time this summer.

    I have no knowledge of the actual Duke program. I do know that I took part in a wonderful summer program during high school. My now-husband was also invited to participate in that program, but his parents decided it was too expensive. My husband is still disappointed he didn’t get to participate, and even his parents now wish they had sent him.

  148. My girls have attended TIP and love love love it. They do the sleepaway 3 weeks f nerds r us. They found their people and keep in touch all year long. It’s even more money but worth it bc they found they can go away make friends and survive on their own (even do laundry). Would I prefer college credits? Hell to the yes. Would I prefer to use the combined money to buy them a car? Or retire someday? Or take my own damn vaca? Nope. They love it. They are way more self assured and learn independence. We are big fans and love it. We have experience with Trinity U, Wake Forest, Duke East is beast, App state and soon LSU. Holler back if you want the more scoop or real poop.

  149. I was a TIP student about a million years shoo (pre computer). Never did a thing for me. Drama, on the other hand, has been my saving grace more times than I can count. Just my 2 cents… and congrats to Hailey!

  150. Though I do not have kids I am a female sound engineer and II know what it is like to be the only woman in the room. All I can say is if she is talented and enjoys the hacker and robotics classes to not loose heart. It’s hard being the only female but I promise you she is not alone and both of those feilds are in dire need of more females and female influences. Representation matters. Tell her to keep kicking ass. There is a community ready to aupport her.

  151. I don’t know if you’re still reading this far down, but my biggest concern with the Duke program is you said she’s the only girl at her other activities, well this one being online only really won’t provide much for additional social interaction. Or at least not the same as in-person. I would lean towards finding out if there’s something local that is similar.

  152. You might look through edx or coursera online and see if anything strikes her fancy. Both have a wide range of self-directed online classes for free from major universities (think MIT, Harvard, etc.). The nice thing there is she can take anything she wants, so if she doesn’t want to do the robotics thing because she is the only girl, she can take circuits or programming. I’m looking into it for me to do some refresher work before I start a masters program.

  153. I would contact the guidance department at her school and see what opportunities they offer. Honestly, a 7th grade college-prep program for $1000 is kind of a scam and potentially a waste of money.

    Here’s a link to some programs that were reviewed. I think a lot of them are for high school students.

    I would still encourage her to take the robotics activities, even if she is one of the only girls. If it interests her, it’s a good opportunity to practice for the real world. A lot of labs are set up with very few women.

    I do NOT recommend activities where she is the youngest, though, because there is ungodly pressure, and she’ll be exposed to stuff socially that she may not be ready for.

    This may not be her favorite thing, but if she is driven, she can totally pull it off. I know a girl who decided that she was going to teach herself geometry over the summer. She is competitive, and she worked against a friend. And she did it.

  154. My father was a brilliant physicist and devoted parent who died recently at age 91. One of his greatest gifts to me, and all of his kids, was instilling the belief that learning is fundamental to enjoying life. It doesn’t have to have a purpose or a goal or to be judged on whether it leads to a good paying job. Learning is simply the bedrock of living a meaningful life. To be raising a child in this day and age, with its incomprehensible difficulties, risks, and chaos, is a job beyond description, but if your child wants to learn, and wants to explore new ways of learning, I hope parents can see the simple beauty and meaning of it, and work to cultivate and support it in any way they can.

  155. Hi! Our kids enrolled in the Texas Tech online classes during summer; the older kids for enrichment and better shots at AP courses in high school; the youngest kid in order to make up classes that he didn’t do so well in during the school year. They weren’t that expensive…at least, they weren’t that costly a decade ago!

  156. around where I live our tech school offers summer programs that are for this age group. see while it’s not specifically for “gifted” students it certainly sounds like a lot of fun, and is soemthing a bit different for the age group. It’s possible a tech school near you might offer something similar.

    super exciting for Hailey that she scored so well!! not so exciting for your wallet sad trombone

  157. I actually attended one of the Duke TIP programs when I was 16 and it was one of the best experiences of my life. It was one of the 2 week ones that was like pre-college or a more adult sleepaway camp. We went to Ghost Ranch (where Georgia O’Keefe lived) in New Mexico and it was 2 weeks of very intensive creative writing exercises and working with a professor and two TAs to really hone my skills. Whenever I get burnt out or fall out of love with writing, I go back to what I learned then (almost 20 years ago) and it helps.

    I can’t say that an online course is worth that much money, because a huge part of my experience was actually going away with 20+ other people my age and bonding, learning together…but Duke TIP is a really incredible program overall.

  158. I don’t know about what you should do, but as an adult I occasionally take online college courses, learn new languages with DuoLingo, learn a new instrument, or take up reading deeply into bizarre and obscure topics. My therapist said something about me enjoying learning for the sake of learning. Hailey may be the same way.

  159. My friends daughter has done the summer courses at Wilmington and LOVED it. This summer she is doing the Duke. I think Haley would love it. But not the online one. I think she would like hanging out with other like minded kids.

  160. As someone who works in college applications, Hailey will not be dis-advantaged if she does not take the course as long as she does something over the summer other than be a moldy couch potato. Having fun or doing drama is fantastic, building tiny houses with you is equally great, being active and exploring her world is wonderful! Hailey will have a good idea if this is really how she wants to spend her time – let her decide if you possibly can – then she is invested in the process and that is the MOST important thing. She needs to feel like she has some ownership of and responsibility for her choices. By the way, I would be a professional moldy couch potato if I could!

  161. First, I am not a parent (or even an aunt lol) BUT I have a gifted brother who utilized all available courses that would teach him something new. I know your daughter (metaphorically) and she enjoys learning for the joy of learning and as a parent it’s your job to foster and support her toward a healthy adult life. This is one of those things that I would support if she’s down for it and if she’s not I would find something she IS down for to utilize the summer months. This will be a healthy experience for her to have some say in what she does. Good parenting on your part!!! Go you both!!

  162. I’m not a parent, but I was a bright kid too, and I just wanted to add that something in person might be much more fulfilling than sitting in front of a computer all summer.

  163. The summer between junior and senior year of high school I did NSLC and spent a week at a college campus in Washington D.C. They apparently also offer some middle school programs. It is pricey, but personally I got a lot out of it, mostly in pushing outside my comfort zone. My small group was diverse and it was great to spend time with so many bright and interesting kids – lots of good memories!

  164. I personally was active in a Super Saturday program, but I’m not sure if that is a widespread thing or just where I live. I’m also not sure if you can apply. But it is a great program and has tons of options and classes to take; it was really fun for me. Plus, you can choose before or after lunch classes. Hoorah to sleeping in!

  165. I was invited to Duke TIP in middle school. As I remember it, my parents couldn’t afford to enroll me in the classes, but we did travel to NC for the award ceremony and they did a sort of mini-class tour on campus after. I was a studious kid and enjoyed getting the recognition for my hard work, of course. Most importantly, though, I felt like I was around kids at “my level.” I like that the grown-ups spoke to me respectfully and trusted me to understand them. I don’t think that an e-course would give those same benefits, though.

  166. If she qualified for TIP, she’s good to go with Johns Hopkins CTY and some other summer programs as well. My kids never did the computer classes, but they did do the three week summer classes and loved them. Maybe let her start with a computer class and then next summer think about one of the camp/class things somewhere else? The best part about the camps is that they’re with a bunch of other smart kids, and often they all feel like they’ve found their “people” and have a great experience. Nerds unite!

  167. I don’t have any advice because my sons are only 8, and I’m too old to remember what I did in middle school besides read. I just wanted to say that I want to be like Hailey when I grow up. You and your husband and raising an amazing human.

  168. My kid was all gung ho, too, when he got the same offer but he wanted to do the weeks long on-campus deal that was like $4,000. So we said HA you’re 13, dude, forget it! He’s 16 now and there have been A LOT of other options for getting college credits in advance so if that’s what you’re worried about, don’t. She can take pre-AP and AP courses in high school or participate in dual enrollment or early college courses for that. If it just sounds, to her, like a fun way to spend some summer time, maybe have her help pay for it. Then she’s super invested and the expense isn’t all on you! Also, if there are college campuses near you check out their summer programs for middle schoolers. I live near a state university and they have programs for kids that age that run throughout the summer with various topics and they aren’t $1000.

  169. Not sure if this is what you were looking for, as completely not academic, but the coolest thing my daughter does every summer is go to Girl Scout day camp. She’s in 6th grade and still loves it, the themes are contemporary think Yoga, healthy eating, nature photography. It’s all girl, so they manage to let their hair down and just be kids, and sing silly songs, and get filthy. She’s out of doors in the fresh air almost all day.

  170. We did the free online Duke TIP and the 1-week on-campus Duke TIP at Washington University in St. Louis. Being away from home and in a college setting was as valuable as the classroom work. That part was worth it.

  171. No kids either (though I do have an adorable and precocious god-daughter), but like 75% of the commenters thus far, I took the ACT in 7th grade, received some sort of recognition for TIP, etc. This was in the early 90s, and I went to an in-state award ceremony. I don’t even know if I knew there were camps, likely because my parents knew they couldn’t afford them and so didn’t let me see the materials and get my hopes up. I participated in a gifted program through my high school, which was essentially one half day a week at a central location where the various participating kids from across the county gathered together to learn about unconventional things. So, no TIP for me but 5 college degrees, ultimately, including a PhD, so if you/she decides not to pony up, her future will probably remain full of potential.

    That said, see above about the 5 degrees. I was in school for a loooong time. Classes can be quite entertaining, obviously, but where I learned the most was in the opportunities for one-on-one interaction with professors and other professionals. If this online course is some sort of tele-education adventure where she’ll have one-on-one remote sessions with a teacher and receive individualized feedback and be able to converse and interact, it might have some value. Otherwise, there are lots of options for online classes, many of them for free. Heck, she could listen to the Great Courses series. I agree with all of those who recommend interactive skills building, and those recommending a trial run.

  172. Another vote for John Hopkins CTY program. I went 4 years and it was one of the best and most formative experiences of my life. But if TIP is anything like it, it’ll be great.

  173. Have a bunch of kids in our area that qualified for Duke TIP. Some have loved it, some have hated it. It is very rigorous and really depends on the kid. My kid opted out, but her friend did the writing camp and was miserable, but she was around others that were in their element. You guys know yourselves best. This is one that I don’t think the internet will be able to assist.

  174. $1000 isn’t really that much for a full summer activity. When my daughter was still in High School, may of the opportunities she was invited to participate in were $1000 for a few day to a week. She wanted to participate in everything. I had her choose what was the most important to her and supported that one, otherwise I would of gone broke.

  175. I don’t have any advice for cheap summer activities, but both my husband and I and our kids have attended Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota. They are an immersion learning camp with MANY different languages to choose from. The languages live in different “villages” where all the villagers are learning the same language. It’s a great way to learn to actually speak the language and be comfortable in it, as well as about the culture of the target language. In addition, you can get high-school credit, or college credit in some languages. My kids are both going back this summer, one for 2 weeks of fun, one for college credit. An excellent program, an excellent value, but cheap, no.

  176. The most productive thing my VERY intelligent son did during the summer when he was a middle through high school aged was bathe occasionally and eat me out of house and home. He just absolutely lacked any motivation or drive. If you can afford it and she wants to do it, I say go for it. If there are better/less expensive opportunities, then obviously pursue those options, but by all means keep her amazing brain satiated!!!

  177. I must be PMS-ing today as people’s camp stories are making me cry. I too went to summer camp and found my tribe and those people continue to be in my life over 25 years later. So, if you are going to spend money, spend it on something where Hailey is interacting with people. Doesn’t matter if it’s academics focused or not.

  178. I totally get wanting to take classes and tests. My favorite summer was taking a College Algebra class. Good times!

  179. Both of my boys were identified by the Duke TIP program, but I would have had to pay THEM $12,000- to do something academic in the summer. Ha. When my oldest (now 25) was in middle school, he, his younger brother and my husband spent the summer turning the trampoline into a wrestling ring. I spent many an hour outside watching the kids and their friends put on WWE-style shows. It was ridiculous and awesome. I say let Hailey lead the way on this and don’t worry that she has to do something productive.

  180. My oldest did 3 summers in the Duke program – 2 in Summer Studies and 1 in the Field Studies. She went to Wake Forest, New College (in Florida), and Duke. I thought the Field Studies was rather overpriced because it was pretty much the same price as Summer Studies but only 2 weeks long instead of 3. I mean, it’s expensive period, but I could kind of justify the cost when it’s 3 weeks of room and board and all day classes and activities. That said, she loved it all, really loved going. She met lots of new people, she learned a lot, we saw her independence blossom, it was worth the cost to us.

    Now my youngest is headed to her second year in the program. Last year she went to Georgia Tech, this year she will go to Duke. She also loved it. Her teacher created really fun, hands on activities and she learned a ton. She can’t wait to go back.

    The eStudies programs are different from the residential programs, I know, but I think they are probably worth it as well. When I first heard about the TIP program, I thought it was just a scam for money, but it’s pretty well regarded and has been around a long time.

  181. I lucked into a neat summer program at an expensive private school for my son. You did not have to be enrolled at the school to go to the summer camp (it costs more than college, so it’s a good thing they let those of us among the Great Unwashed participate). It was a little more expensive than other day camps like YMCA, but suited him much better. Most others in my area are sports-oriented and he is NOT into team sports at all. He was able to choose a different morning and afternoon class each week, like Chinese culture, make your own magazine, fencing, drama, cooking/baking, yoga horseback riding, photography, strings (he plays cello). It does get difficult at her age. Maybe she could be a junior counselor or an assistant at the drama classes. Or learn more set building/tech stuff if she likes drama?

  182. For my 13-yr old son, during the summer it’s all about physical activity – soccer, swimming, robotics and we did Taiko drumming also. The drumming was a fantastic outlet for him as a new teen! We use our local community college for some summer program options to just give him chances to do something completely different. I keep hoping they’ll open up welding or carpentry or some other skilled labor so he can experience those things as well. I also am waiting to see if they do week-long or even weekend culturally-focused cooking classes! Side note, I attended Duke’s TIP program 30+ years ago on campus and absolutely loved it.

  183. It’s a little different, but there is a cool organization called Girls Build in Oregon. I love that they encourage girls to do the types of activities they normally wouldn’t do. Might be worth checking out. It’s not a full summer program though.

  184. As a proudly nerdy girl, I think one of the best things to have at that age is like minded friends. The difference between being the only “odd” one interested in chemistry, robots, math, etc and having a bunch of other friends who think those things are fascinating and fun is really life changing. I was lucky enough to go to a magnet high school with lots of fabulous nerdy people, so while I did the Hopkins summer program and had fun, it wasn’t necessarily as impactful as it was for some. On the other hand, my husband didn’t have that peer group at school, so when he did the TIP summer program on Duke’s campus, it was really transformative for him. The classes were great, but being surrounded by other kids who think the best use of their summer is learning advanced math was eye opening for him and helped him feel confident that he didn’t need to tone down his academic interests to fit it. He still talks about it almost 20 years later.
    I’d evaluate this as an opportunity for her to find a group of other brainy kids, if she doesn’t already have one, and think of any content she learns as an added bonus.

  185. Sounds kinda like not the best camp. I went to a science camp at TWU, which was pretty interesting and science. All girls too. I think something like that would be more interesting and more valuable.

  186. If this is something she really wants to do, there is nothing wrong with having her share some of the cost. It will determine how much she wants to participate and she will be more invested. Kudos to her for that level of academic success at such a young age!

  187. If this is something she really wants to do, there is nothing wrong with having her share some of the cost. It will determine how much she wants to participate and she will be more invested. Kudos to her for that level of academic success at such a young age!

  188. If you can bankroll her, I think she should do it! But, I don’t have or know alternatives. I went to music camp every summer from the time I was 5. From 5-13, my whole family would go as a family and it was great fun. It was also not cheap. When I was in middle school and beyond, I went to summer camp for a week by myself, and in HS I went for 6 weeks twice. It helped me get ready for college, and I loved it. If she’s eager to do it, I say go for it!

  189. I’m a recent Stanford grad and I spent my summers doing CTD (Center for Talent Development), the academic summer camp at Northwestern. I loved it – I went back for four summers, and so did a bunch of my friends (all of whom ended up at Ivy League schools, except for my stubborn west coast self). Each kid signed up for 1 course lasting 3 weeks, which could cover anything from creative storytelling to encryption methods to geopolitics, and we lived in the university dorms. It was also kind of pricey – I think it was around $2500 for 3 weeks, with some aid available – but it was easily the highlight of my summers, the one place I got to dive deep into dorky awesome shit with other kindred spirits.

    As you don’t live that close to Northwestern, I know a lot of other universities offer similar summer camps on their campuses (CTY, EPGY, etc.) I’d say look into options like that, where Hailey will get to nerd out with new friends in person.

  190. No kids here, but I went to a junior community college during the summer of my Jr to Sr year. I love learning – still do – so I think the TIP class would be a blast for her. I would have loved on-line classes but the word internet wasn’t even invented yet in the 80’s. (Dang I’m old!)

    And you must remember – she is 1/2 Victor…… must his 1/2 that is at work here.

  191. I went to the Johns Hopkins CTY programs for 4 years, starting after grade 7. The first two years were on scholarship, and the remaining two were funded mostly by money I earned babysitting. (I did a lot of babysitting.) I can’t speak to the online classes, but the live ones were probably the most important thing in my life during that time. It was only three weeks in the summer, but for those three weeks I got to be around other kids who were as enthused about reading and learning as I was. Being there let me feel like there was nothing wrong with not being into the things the students at my regular high school were into– that it wasn’t that I was impossibly weird, just there weren’t people like me at my school. Knowing that I wasn’t the only one kept me going during what was otherwise the worst time in my life socially. I also think that CTY helped propel me into the life I’m living now, which is a pretty good one. I love my work, my family, and the things I do for fun. If your daughter has the opportunity to do something like that, do what you can to find a way. It can be meaningful beyond the academics.

    (And while I didn’t get college credit for it directly, the intensive writing that I did at CTY set me up well for all of the AP tests I took in high school. Sometimes, the credit comes further down the line.)

  192. You need to know about Django Girls! It’s a free bootcamp for women and girls only and it’s worldwide. It’s only a one-day thing usually, but it’s free. I don’t know where exactly you live so you’ll have to google to find one close to you (and when it is), but I’m an organizer for the Kansas City event, and it’s really awesome! Or if you feel like a vacation, KC’s in July 21 (you could both sign up together, and there are quiet rooms for you to hide in if you get overwhelmed because we know 99% of our participants are introverts). Also try googling for ‘[your city] women in tech’ – most larger cities are starting to have a group like that, and if your city is anything like ours they’ll have coding programs specifically for girls! Feel free to shoot me an email if you have questions or need help finding something like that, I’m really excited about helping girls get into STEM!

  193. I’m not familiar with the program they’re offering your daughter, but I’m surprised it doesn’t offer college credit? My twin boys enrolled in summer programs at a nearby college where they actually lived in the dorm for 3 weeks-that was really worthwhile, gave them a look at what it will be like. They also took a lot of AP classes while in high school which are then transferred as college credit so I highly recommend she take AP classes. That being said $1,000 doesn’t seem like too much money if it’s something that she’s really excited and enthusiastic about.

  194. You can’t get these years back. Don’t rush through childhood. I have four daughters, all have tested, tested out, gifted, etc. Biggest mistake was when daughter no 1 took college classes in high school and pretty much tested out of her first two years of college. That dumped her into advanced biochemistry and physics as a freshman. The resulting stress and being dumped into huge lecture halls with upperclassmen and indifferent professors almost caused her to drop out of college. The crappy grades wrecked her chances for vet school, her dream since second grade. Take it easy. Use the high ACT scores for scholarships when the time comes. Too much emphasis on constant testing, and not life experiences. Spend time with her, do stuff together. You can’t get these years back.
    My two cents worth, the Idiot-who-brought-taxidermied-groundhog-for-you-to-baptize.

  195. I have 2 middle schoolers and I work at a University! If she won’t receive college credit, I would question that price. If she wants to do something in STEM, see if you can find a local college/university professor conducting research that would be willing to have her observe. I’ve seen lots of college applications, the kids who have independently sought out work that they are interested in, especially at her age, will have a MUCH bigger pool of schools to look at when the time comes. Summer camps are hard at this age, I’m finding that as well….too old for lots, too young for others. Could she be a CIT for a theatre camp? I have a budding actress myself 🙂 Any nature camps near you…older kids (I’m in New York state) here usually have programs for “adventures”, multiple days backpacking, pitch a tent, wildness survival (although in Texas that sounds REALLY scary as we don’t have the poisonous things crawling around). Kids/baby sitting gigs? Summer dance classes? Good luck!

  196. Was offered Duke TIP for my daughter. Investigated the program and found it to be not so clear what any advantage would be and more than a little commentary on how it didn’t help their kid matched with other glowing reviews. Not impressed with the program, but giving Hailey the final choice sounds like a winner. We elected not to participate, daughter made the call.

  197. I’m late to this party, but I was a TIP kid, and am the current parent of a 7th grader. Here’s my 2 cents:

    The Duke program is fantastic from what I hear. I personally am an alum of a sister program at Western Kentucky University, the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY). Absurdly un-catchy name, but an amazing program. My parents paid for me to go largely because my rural public school education wasn’t cutting it in terms of keeping me stimulated PLUS I was a giant nerdball who needed to find others of my own kind. I went for 3 summers in a row, because it was one of the only places that I felt normal and like I had a sense of belonging among other smart weirdos. The social aspect was as important for me as the academic one. This is really what’s awesome about these programs – the expansion of the student’s boundaries as a whole person, and the chance to live away from parents for a short period to see what that’s like. It gave me so much confidence as a person. I came back for one summer as a college-age counselor, and it was amazing to see the blossoming of some of my teen girl charges.

    Beyond Duke and Johns Hopkins, there are likely programs in Texas she would be qualified for (weekend workshops and such), if she’s interested in that.

    Now, all that said, I’m currently the stepmom of a 7th grader who is in all gifted classes, and was invited to take the ACT for TIP this year, and she wants none of it. She doesn’t want to take tests, do enrichment activities, attend camps, or anything else. It’s just not her jam. I almost wish it were, because it was so good for me at that age. But, people are different.

    If your girl wants to try out a gifted summer program, and you can swing it, let her do it. If it’s her thing for the future, great. If not, there are so many other options out there.

    I say the same thing about this that I always say about people getting the opportunity to travel abroad: you will never regret the experience, unless you are eaten by a monster (or get chlamydia from a koala). / credentials can be used.

    The Duke program is fantastic from what I hear. I personally am an alum of a sister program at Western Kentucky University, the Summer Program for Verbally and Mathematically Precocious Youth (VAMPY). Absurdly un-catchy name, but an amazing program. My parents paid for me to go largely because my rural public school education wasn’t cutting it in terms of keeping me stimulated PLUS I was a giant nerdball who needed to find others of my own kind. I went for 3 summers in a row, because it was one of the only places that I felt normal and like I had a sense of belonging among other smart weirdos. The social aspect was as important for me as the academic one. This is really what’s awesome about these programs – the expansion of the student’s boundaries as a whole person, and the chance to live away from parents for a short period to see what that’s like. It gave me so much confidence as a person. I came back for one summer as a college-age counselor, and it was amazing to see the blossoming of some of my teen girl charges. These programs really are not about academic achievement so much as general horizon-broadening.

    Beyond Duke and Johns Hopkins, there are likely programs in Texas she would be qualified for (weekend workshops and such), if she’s interested in that.

    Now, all that said, I’m currently the stepmom of a 7th grader who is in all gifted classes, and was invited to take the ACT for TIP this year, and she wants none of it. She doesn’t want to take tests, do enrichment activities, attend camps, or anything else. It’s just not her jam. I almost wish it were, because it was so good for me at that age. But, people are different.

    If your girl wants to try out a gifted summer program, and you can swing it, let her do it. If it’s her thing for the future, great. If not, there are so many other options out there.

    I say the same thing about this that I always say about people getting the opportunity to travel abroad: you will never regret the experience, unless you are eaten by a monster (or get chlamydia from a koala).

  198. Also, I see that you are talking about an online course. I’m not as familiar with those, but everything I said above is about the residential programs.

  199. In 15 years, unless you’re a millionaire or come from a dynastic family, almost everyone who goes to college and graduates ends up on the same path. Social skills, emotional intelligence, the ability to collaborate becomes far more important, and it what sets some people apart and makes them more successful and resourceful. We were faced with the same challenges (spend the summer doing computer classes or do something altogether different. We chose Art camp – performing arts, music, dance, theater… it was something to exercise the right side of her brain; she met other qwirky kids (“Mom, they are just like me!”) and ultimately it helped her to be fearless and self confident later on in her life.

  200. I read your post along with some of the responses, and wonder what she has in the way of goals for her future. My Sons chose an alternative route as they were not interested in pursuing a degree. They choose to pursue a trade school having worked with machinery throughout their high school years. They enrolled in a marine trade school, passed with high honnors, and went on to obtain two patents for improvements to existing products sold world wide. They now have a business that has thrived for the last 20 years. They choose to work for themselves and reap the benefits of their ideas for themselves.

  201. I may not have a kid in middle school, but as a seventh grader myself, I can say that there’s actually a lot of academic courses AND volunteer opportunities during the summer. For the most part taking a summer course at a high school is your best bet, most courses cost around $400 to $600. (I live in California though, so I’m not sure what courses are in Texas). As an example, this summer I’m taking a course at OSHA high school that is $600, a little pricey but less than a thousand. And there are a lot of volunteer places that take even 13 year olds. I volunteer at PetSmart with Cats in Need every Saturday. And it’s not just small work, I have to take care of the cats as well as help people during the adoption process and help people find the right cat. It’s also a good source of volunteer hours, as I get 5 hours each week. So there are many courses and volunteer opportunities for middle schoolers over the summer.

  202. Hi Jenny. Congratulations to Hailey! My kids, boys, now 23 (twins), were also in the TIP program, but weren’t interested in doing anything in the program. So, I don’t have anything to contribute on that particular program.

    It is possible that the elearning courses include some skype-like sessions, rather than being just reading, graphics and videos. So, it may be more social than people are thinking. Something to check out.

    Also, since Hailey is advanced for her age, I wonder if the high school guidance counselors could help you find an “older” theater experience. One of my kids was a theater kid.

    I’m just throwing ideas out. The only thing I can really say from experience is that it is important to follow your kid’s enthusiasm, because those interests that really excite her are the ones she’ll really take off with. And you can miss the boat by waiting too long.

    And yes, couldn’t sleep so decided to check out your blog. Love your books. I grew up in a small town also, in the Ohio Amish country.

  203. I second the Sitka Fine Arts Camp—I did it at Hailey’s age and it was SO fun. Plus, think of all the amusing posts you could write about bears if she went to Alaska.

  204. Maybe she could try out for a small part in a local summer theater instead of just taking classes? A bit part in a bigger play could be a huge learning experience. We really don’t do much over the summer that isn’t free and our kids are younger. If she’s into science, something like space camp would be a lot more hands on… and just because something is OFFERED does not mean you have to do it. A teacher might be able to point her towards a theater camp/intensive thing or robotics camp, etc. that might have more girls in it.. at that age boys are also starting to notice girls so she might find herself fairly popular… just throwing that out there.

    Maybe you guys could do a book and a movie experience this summer where you read everything from where the wild things are to wonder and watch the movies that go along with them? It seems like she has a lot of interests and she can explore any one of them without necessarily neglecting the others… and at that age there should be no FOMO…

  205. I’m super curious to find out if you decided, yet. I also forgot to say that we always made sure our kidlet could provide well thought out “reasons”, before we laid down the big bucks. Then it’s all about whether you can afford to give them what they want!

  206. When I was a kid getting awesome grades (yes, it is true, but it was also almost 20 years ago!!) but anyway, I was “selected” to appear in “Who’s Who among High School Academia” which was a publication intended to identify stand-out students with excellent grades that colleges should keep an eye on and also was said to get your profile in front of top colleges in advance. Awesome right? Totally exclusive right? Yeah, exclusive for the parents who would pay close to $300 to compile your profile for the listing! I mean, supposedly you had to “qualify” to be in the Who’s Who Guide, but pay for your profile info. Scam anyone?

  207. Girls Who Code offers a 7 week summer immersion program if she’s into coding. She lives in a dorm type area Monday-Friday and goes to the business each week to learn more about the coding world. Applications for this year were due by March 16, but if that’s something she wants to check out you can prepare for next year.

  208. So much great advise already here before me, but to add my two cents:
    1) Is there any way that you and/or Haley can speak to a student and/or parent who participated in this program last year? That would really allow you both to ask questions and get a good idea if it’s right for you
    2) Don’t doubt your gut as a parent or hers as one who I imagine knows herself quite well. Every time I didn’t listen to my little inner voice…well that’s when I went wrong.

    Best of luck in your decision. Whatever it is, it will be right for you both! Hugs, Leslie

  209. My daughter was also accepted into the TIP program. She did nothing more then take the PSAT. We would find summer camps that appealed to her own interests and in which she qualified for based on age. The whole time I always wondered if I was doing the right thing for her. Would forgoing the TIP experience come back and bite us? She ended up being valedictorian of her high school class and going to a great university. I think there is something to be said for letting kids just be themselves whether that is Space Camp or babysitting for extra spending money.

  210. I attended Upward Bound when I was in hs. It was a math/science program for kids who were the first in their family who might attend college or those who would need financial assistance for college. We stayed for six weeks at a university. I was at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. We took a trip to Chicago and Washington DC/Norfolk, VA. Everything was paid for and we even received a stipend. I met some really great people and learned so much. One off the kids I met went to Texas with the program the year after she was in Ohio. I would highly recommend it if she is eligible. If the program is still around, I may be getting old.

  211. A few more thoughts… If you’re in a school district that has lots of extras, it’s possible the TIP eclass might replicate something she’s going to get anyway.

    Also, I’m in Texas also, and one thing I found out about is that a child of any age can always take online classes through Texas Tech so they can skip classes or grades, if it seems that might be appropriate.

    Also, you might get great ideas if you join some of the online blogs or forums for parents of gifted children. It’s been too long since I was doing that, so I’m not going to try to name any. And I know you’re good at googling. ☺

  212. From a teacher perspective..(yes I am)…and from the perspective of a mom of two gifted daughters…
    Let her be a kid for as long as you can. Gifted kids do not get weaker academically. She can continue to grow and expand her mind through so many activities. You know that she is in the tween stage I think the hardest stage of life for girls…seventh entering eighth quite treacherous for so many reasons. Robotics is excellent and being the only girl seems an advantage as she ages she will not be the only girl…only girl hence more scholarship money.

    Have her spend her summer reading and reading to kids at the library if she really has a desire to help others consider using her literary skills to help struggling readers. Little kids love to read to older kids.

    Been in this situation and truly can say more fun in life is what kids need. I have one kid in law school…talk about stress and one in graduate school for counseling…proud but they have had more that their fair share of school. Fun is fleeting school and responsibility come soon enough.

  213. I took my middle school summer enrichment courses in things like oceanography and paleontology (that no teacher was able to offer during the school year because we had a strict curriculum to follow) as well as community college classes in things like art.

    I don’t know if it’s the same in Texas, but in CA community college was free for those of us under 18 because it’s a public school.

  214. We took a pass on the tip program, didn’t seem worth our while. Our kids have loved the summer camps that really support their interests. My daughter always does some kind of animal, vet, or equine camp. My son does computer programming, robotics and sports camps.

  215. As a parent of three past middle schoolers, they are all different, so what one liked the others probably would have hated. That being said, one loved the International Music Camp, there are two in the U.S. if they are into music, one liked to disk golf and play video games, and one like to run (that is one I can’t understand at all) and show sheep. All different. Ask your daughter what she wants to do most. The answer might surprise you. Good luck in choosing. Sometimes I do think that can be a challenge is that there is so much to do, it is hard to select a few favorites.

  216. The best summer program I ever did, by far was the Summer Program at Brown University. Ridiculously expensive and you stay on campus, so it involves spending time away from home, but 1. It gave me a taste of what college would actually be like, 2. For the first time, I got to really do what I had been interested in since I was in 7th grade – biomedical research, and 3. It led me to getting an awesome internship my freshman year of college.

    Everyone is different though. I don’t think there are any wrong answers. The more exposure and opportunities you provide your daughter, the better.

  217. I’m coming to this a little late, but have you looked at IDTech? My son did several of their camps, and he loved them. Programming, video game design, video production, all kinds of cool tech stuff. They also have an all-girls division. Can be commuter or residential depending on where you go.

  218. My nephew Loved the CTY program mentioned elsewhere. First time he was exposed to kids as smart as he was. He was a little bit older.

  219. Jenny,
    So, a dozen years ago my daughter was in a similar situation as Hailey at the exact same age — 7th grade, 12 years old and slightly compounded with a Fall birthday. Like some of the students mentioned here, she had been invited to attend Johns Hopkins CTY program, but decided not to go, partially because of the expense. Instead, she told me, she wished there was a way that she could just skip high school. And guess what? THERE WAS!!!!
    It’s called Mary Baldwin College’s –errrr University — PEG or Program for the Exceptionally Gifted. It’s in Staunton, Virginia right in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley, just a half hour south of Shenandoah National Park.
    I would seriously look into it. Their prospective family visit day is scheduled this year for April 23rd. I would go, or at least have Victor and Hailey go,if you can’t stomach the travel on such short notice.
    We had missed this particular opportunity the first time around because I didn’t stumble on this program until the middle of the summer between her 7th and 8th grade years. But, they arranged for her to come down for a Fall visit at which point we did the family interview as well because they required it — I suspect they still do — as part of the admissions and application process to the program. (Don’t worry, the whole point is to access your support, etc. of your daughter. Believe it or not, you’d pass with flying colors.)
    Anyways, at the end of the visit, my daughter knew absolutely that this was she wanted to do. And the rest is, as they say, history. In short, this was totally her decision to take advantage of this opportunity. Neither I or her Dad pushed her into this. We simply presented it as one way of attaining her desire to “skip high school.” She totally took charge of getting the needed recommendations from her middle school principal, teachers, etc., registering for the SAT before the stated deadline, and getting the information and filling out the forms so I could register her for a summer Geometry course. (I swear she would have stood in line with me to make sure I did it right if she didn’t have school that day.) And, when folks outside of the family questioned that decision, especially if she decided that it wasn’t for her, my response was always that she could come back and register back at her high school. Except she didn’t. The biggest decision we faced was whether she was going to transfer to another college at the beginning of her junior year, as many of the girls, particularly those whose homes were pretty far away, such as Hailey’s sitch would be. She decided to stay and we kept making those 3+ hour trips back and forth between our home in Maryland and Mary Baldwin.
    Plus, since Hailey is interested in drama, she could investigate their major in performing arts which offers the possibility of getting either a MLitt or MFA in Shakespeare and Performance in conjunction with the American Shakespeare Center. (An FYI, the American Shakepeare Center is directed by one of my English professors from James Madison University, who, while I don’t always agree with his rhetorical philosophies, was an amazing writing instructor.)
    Last thing, there’s a book that was published on this program called “College @ 13”. I think it would give you, Victor and Hailey a good perspective on why you should strongly consider this program.
    I recognize I might have raised more questions than answered with my comment. If so, please feel free to email me. Somehow my husband and I managed to successfully get three highly gifted kids to young adulthood (2 sons who bookended my daughter). So, I am no stranger to the decisional agonies that this territory poses for you at this point in the parenting process.
    Best to you, Victor and Hailey as you thread this sometimes confusing maze!

  220. See if there is a chapter of SWE – Society for Women in Engineering near you – if she’s into robotics, engineering, science – it’s a great place to connect her with other women (girls) who are into those things _ at least, that’s true here in Wichita – my daughter participates in a specialized Girl Scout troop for Robotics and it’s run by a lot of SWE members.

  221. I’m late to the party, sorry. My girl is 12 and I’m in the same boat. I have conflicted feelings; part of me wants to push her to meet her potential because I’m the mom and apparently that’s what we do? The other part of me thinks she’s 12 and maybe just let her play with makeup and text on her phone and stop being a 36 year old for a couple of months.

    The cost…honestly it’s not that bad. Leadership Camp – 1 damn week costs a grand…it’s insane, I told her last year she better come back as a congressman.

    I would lean the direction your daughter leans. If she wants to do it, let her do it.

  222. So you’ve probably already decided, but I’m still going to weigh in. And I’m weighing in as the Mom of two identified gifted kids. I’m married to someone who did SYMPY/Johns Hopkins as a kid. (I don’t love the term, but if you want to see my head explode respond to a discussion about the needs/education of gifted kids with “all children are gifted”).

  223. argh i cut myself off.

    Anyway so your kid has been identified now. For my money the most important thing is for her to get a) meaningful learning challenges b) a chance to connect with peers. Gifted kids who don’t get the first are bored and they don’t learn how to deal with material that’s tr dropping out, because nothing has ever been hard, and they expect themselves to get everything on the first go. They are happier using those muscles now. For everyone who weighed in in favor of “kids being kids” Hailey wants this. It excites her. It’s her idea of fun, so “let her do something fun” is this. Classes like these are often the only chance kids like this get to as fast and as deep as they want to go all the time. Let her run.

    On the second, gifted kids often feel weird and quirky, socially isolated, different. The sooner they get to meet similar kids, the better. It’s true that they can sometimes find each other at coding camps, or robotics events, or interest based camps, but it’s also true that’s no guarantee. if you could give your adolescent self the feeling you got on your book tour -that you’d met your tribe. Well that’s what a lot of gifted kids get out of their summer camps.

    So aside from whether you do TIP in particular, being prepared to make sure she’s getting enough challenge, even if it seems weird to you. Extra tests, extra work and all.

    Lastly, online classes vary a lot in format. Some are just like regular classes that don’t happen in one place, everyone skypes in or does it by chat at a designated time each week. Some are self paced and don’t have much interaction built in. It’s a lot more worthwhile to me if it has some real time component, because she’ll “meet” some other kids. Their are other online programs (Athena, G3, Outschool that have classes that work this way, so take a look around and see what she might like, as well as checking what’s available for gifted kids in your area.

    I think as much as you can know over a blog, that Hailey’s a terrific kid and you are doing a terrific job with her, but gifted kids do come with different challenges and different needs. You can email me if I can ever help.

  224. My daughter has done quite a few thing with TIP. Haven’t done estudies because she is a procrastinator and I don’t think she will keep up with assignments BUT she did go to summer camp. Its to late to sign up for this summer but it is by far the best thing they offer. Its even pricier, like 5 grand, but totally worth it and they have scholarships available. Its 3 weeks at a university living in the dorms, washing their own laundry, living with a roomie. It was a great experience for my kidlet, she loved being in class with like minded individuals, (a big change from our small town!) I’m happy to answer any questions you might have!

  225. My daughter has done some TIP programs. Not estudies because she is a major procrastinator and I didn’t think she would keep up with an online class. Her favorite thing by far has been the summer camp. Its 3 weeks at a university living in the dorms, doing laundry, having a roomie. She loved it! Its pricier, like 5k, but scholarships are available. My girl loved being in a class with like minded individuals, very different from our small town. She took a psychology course, but there are lots of options and different locations. She went to Florida last year, next year we will probably stick closer to home, (either here is Texas or maybe as far as LSU) to reduce the cost of travel expenses.I could go on forever, feel free to contact me if you have questions!

  226. I did Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth (CTY) starting at Hailey’s age and it was amazing. I am still friends with many of the people I met there. However, the important part of the experience for me was all of the social exposure to other smart kids. I took one CTY-related course during a school year where we only attended classes and that was NOT fun or worthwhile.

    I found my first tribe at CTY and I know they had some sort of financial aid option. I understand the people who are saying let kids be kids during the summer, but going to “smart kids camp” in the summer did exactly that. I had people I could connect with and the camp was designed to help you socialize with kids like yourself (and learn socialization skills if you didn’t have them). In my mind, that’s the most important part — to put her in an environment where she’s doing something she enjoys with other kids.

  227. My son did a 3-week TIP program at Georgia Tech between 8th and 9th grades, and he considers it one of the best experiences of his life. He’s still in almost constant touch with friends he made there. It was about $4000 though, so we could only afford to do it once. He also did a two-week program at Vanderbilt, which he enjoyed but it didn’t seem to be as big a deal to him. He’s loved the iDTech camps–it’s a national program that has sessions on college campuses all over the US. He’s a junior now and we started looking for summer programs at the colleges he’s interested in, and it turns out a LOT of colleges have summer programs for middle and high schoolers, so maybe check out any schools near you, or schools you or she have any attachment to or interest in. He’s not a writer, but I would have loved for him to do Shared Worlds ( at Wofford College–I mean, a Jeff VanderMeer summer camp?!?!

  228. Whatever she does I agree it should be away from home. Mine started going away between 8-10 years old. They went to traditional type camp and loved every minute of it. The going away, meeting new people, doing stuff you like to do, freedom from parents is what middle schoolers need. Even if it doesn’t all go perfect they learn how to take care of things themselves. Go Hailey!

  229. Gah, I remember that Who’s Who book. Pay us some money and we’ll list your name. And then pay us more money so we can sell you a copy of it. Good grief.

    So this is my third time commenting on this, the most I’ve commented on any single column of yours. A thousand dollars to actually go to a camp would be different; Space Camp for instance sounds totally awesome, which is what I was trying to say in my previous post, about 200 posts ago. I think putting the money toward something like that would make far more sense than paying to take an online course, and I think she’d get far more out of it. I suspect the online course is just a marketing scheme, the same way the Who’s Who book was.

    As to getting college credit for a class taken in middle school, that sounds iffy. Someone might be able to do college level work at high school, but in middle school? Plus you need to check what colleges would accept the class and there is no certainty of that happening. Here in my state a student can take some of the AP high school classes for dual credit, but they are junior or senior level high school classes and the credit only counts if someone goes on to the state public colleges and universities or tech schools — it’s a way to cut down on some of the freshman basics and so owe less college tuition, but if a student goes out of state or to a private in state college they won’t get to transfer the college credit in. I don’t know of anything else the universities will accept except CLEP credits or transfer credits from other accredited colleges. All that said, there is also the subject matter. English, writing, any of the humanities won’t change much in the next few years. Poli Sci may, at least in terms of current events, and the hard sciences? One of my college friends said her freshman year one of her teachers told them to sell all their books back as used and keep nothing because everything they learned that year would be out of date by the time they graduated 4 years later. And that was in 1976.

  230. Not sure what’s available specifically in your area but a lot of universities and colleges have programs with funding available that specifically target girls and women in STEM (Science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Lots of schools in our area (Windsor/Detroit) take part in FIRST Robotics and there are lots of girls, including all-girls teams. Earlier this year, Canada hosted an all-girls robotics team from Afghanistan.

  231. Arizona State University has an online program called Global Freshman Academy whereby you can take introductory college classes online. The classes have specific start and end dates but the BEST PART is that you don’t have to pay the tuition until you’ve successfully passed the class and you’re happy with the grade you’ve received. The courses and faculty are the same as are offered on campus, but at a considerably reduced cost.
    My soon-to-be high schooler is going to take a class or two this summer.

  232. Those invitations to participate in a super-awesome expensive program are flattering, but not your only option. 🙂 My daughters (now adultish) were both exceptional students and we found local programs well-suited to each of their interests. The Biotechnology Summer Institute at our local Community College got our scientist excited about lab work and earned her college credits. Medical Explorers (a Co-Ed Division of the Boy Scouts of America) was equal measures cool and gross. They took mini field trips all summer to watch different medical procedures and backstage tour different departments in our hospital. It helped both daughters choose against becoming medical doctors. Middle school is a great age! They are hormonally imbalanced and wading into the next big thing. Kids have such a narrow window of opportunity to be exactly the age they are and such a LONG time to be older; so yeah, it would be awesome to just let your kiddo run around and be a kiddo… BUT their passions are sometimes fleeting and if you don’t jump on these moments where she wants to be her most academic self, the inspiration may just pass (like my enthusiasm for housework). The good news is: Whatever you choose will be the option she gets and she will get [something] out of it. Next summer you will have even more choices, but you will have this summer’s experience to inform that decision.

  233. My daughter is in high school and has opted to take a college course over the summer at our local community college. And while it is great she is motivated it totally sucks! Going to mess with my summer vacation plans!! But I feel like a loser even saying it out loud.

  234. I don’t know what your local library is like, but mine uses kids 12+ to volunteer for the Summer Reading program. They explain the game to other kids/parents, stamp game boards, hand out prizes. They get to meet other kids from the area, have fun (and they often stay and become members of our teen councils.) If the library doesn’t, maybe something with a kids museum?

  235. Our middle daughter was invited to the TIP summer program twice while she was in middle school. This was awhile ago, she is 37. Both times were either one or two weeks, one on campus at Duke and the other in the NC mountains at a place called Earthshine. Both were wonderful experiences for her and while they were expensive I think it was well worth it. Good luck!

  236. My kid loved Duke TIP — it has a strong residential component and she made friends that are still going strong 3 years later. However, the poster above who mentioned TIP’s six week program and 12 price tag must be thinking of another Duke program. The longest TIP summer program is three weeks, and it cost me something like $4k (or would have; they helped out with financial aid). Duke offers a number of summer programs on their campus as well and some have very hefty price tags.

  237. I did TIP back when it was residential-only at Duke or Davidson (I did Davidson in 1997 or 1998), and it was WONDERFUL! I felt “cool” for the first time in my life because everybody else was geeky and excited to be away from home for the first time, etc. And I had a really great time learning math with a bunch of other precocious, cheeky kids. And I personally choreographed and starred in a lip-synch/dance version of Shania Twain’s “Any Man of Mine,” so….

  238. I didn’t read through all of the comments, so apologies if this has been mentioned before. I saw someone point out that the local colleges may have summer programs. You live close enough to both Austin and San Antonio that you should look and see if the UT schools have something for middle schoolers. I have a hard time believing UT Austin, with its huge research campus, has nothing!

  239. My best summer at Hallie’s age was spent at a water-themed day camp. Sailing, surfing and boogie-boarding, water skiing and wake boarding, kayaking, swimming, field trips to the water park and Sea World. We were separated into multiple age groups so there was no ‘I’m too old for this’ or ‘Everyone is so young’. I was (and am) a water baby, so I loved it!!!

  240. I am the librarian out in Lakehills, and I know we use 7th graders as summer reading assistants with our children’s program, also any other volunteer time at the library during the year. You should check with the SAPL and see if they have any volunteer opportunities for a kid her age, my daughter started volunteering about that age and I think it’s a wonderful way for a kid to spend some time and to also become a part of the community…or college camp, that would be good too.

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