Disclaimer: I am not an expert/representative/sponsor, I just know that people want to know as much about the program as possible, I’ve gotten 40 million emails, and I can help a bit. I highly recommend checking out their website: summercollege.stanford.edu :~) ~*~*


I am here, with a bit of an odd post. 

So, as many of you know, I attended Stanford’s High School Summer College Program this past summer before my Senior Year!

*cue tears and the video*

Well, I have received an overwhelming number of emails asking me questions about it, so I’m just going to do a casual FAQ, pulling questions from emails I have received, and hope that this will answer any and all questions you have! 

***NOTE: this is not about the Pre-Collegiate Institutes. I know nothing about any of that. Okay. Continue.

Here we go ~*

Everything Izzy Knows About Stanford Summer College


Q: What is Stanford High School Summer College?

A: Oh. Honey. First of all, click this link! V exciting. Peep me in the header of the About page. :~) Second of all, basically, you apply for this program and you + 600 other 16-19-year-old students get to live on campus, take real Stanford courses for real college credit, and basically have the best summer in the whole entire world at the best school on Earth (yeah, I said it.)

Q: How much does it cost? Financial aid??? 

A: It costs basically as much as a quarter of tuition at Stanford. I would check the website. They do offer lots and lots of financial aid, which is very kind of them. It’s well worth it considering the staff is amazing, food is exceedingly edible and quite delicious, the weekend “programs” (aka field trips/games/events) are so much fun, and basically you’re in college for the summer, so the money is a good investment, in my honest opinion.

Q: What classes did you take?

A: I took CS106A and English91. That’s 10 units; I didn’t want to take any more classes because I still had AP summer work to handle. (10/10 would recommend both courses)

Q: Is it selective?

A: I’d say it is, I would assume. But don’t let that stop you from applying!

Q: Do you recommend this program to everyone?

A: I would. Like anything, it is what you make of it. I truly believe there is something there for everyone. I know some people would have League of Legends parties in their dorm rooms, some people would go to the gym and workout together, we had plenty of movie nights and Super Smash tournaments and pick-up basketball games, I did yoga every morning at the meditation center, some people left campus to go to concerts and the beach often, study groups sprang up left and right, and, in the end, we were all there for each other. Just be willing to try new things, LEARN, work hard, and meet new people. It’s worth a shot.


Q: How much freedom do you have there?

A: More than you’ve probably ever had before. There are nuances and rules and such, but the 3 biggest rules were: 1) Stay within a 50-mile radius, 2) No drugs or alcohol, and 3) Be back by midnight. You’re free as a bird even if you’re under 18 years old. Just don’t be stupid.

Q: Was it stressful?

A: ha. ha hahahahaHa. Yes. A bit. It’s Stanford, what do you expect? It depends on your time management skills and the courses you take, but the course work, is, of course, very challenging. Undeniably rewarding, though! It’s not busy work, which is such a foreign concept to me; it’s just the right amount of challenging.

Q: Did you like the people you lived with? Did you feel a sense of community?

A: YES. I 10% loved this summer for the experience and, of course, being at my dream school, and 90% loved it for the people I was with. I’m still friends with a lot of them now; we met up over Thanksgiving break, and now I’m going to college with some of them! All of the summer college students live in the same building complex + one in a different hall, and we all eat in the same area. It’s very easy to meet people; it’s a plus that they’re some of the best people in the world :~)

Q: How were the courses there? 

A: World class. Challenging. Eye-opening. Engaging. Again, Stanford.

Q: Was 8 weeks too long? Did you ever get homesick?

A: I live only an hour and a half away from campus, so I saw my parents often. However, it all depends on you and your relationship with your parents. There is plenty of support if you do feel homesick or mentally/emotionally unwell, though. 

Q: Did the program really allow you to check Stanford out as a university and give you an actual feeling of what being a student at Stanford would potentially be like?

A: I’d say pretty much, yeah! Minus the partying, drinking, and actually being a student. The maturity levels of students and the actual freedom of being in college is a dramatic difference between HSSC and university. However, though not exactly like college, it’s definitely as close as one can get while they’re still in high school.

Q: How was it going to classes with other college students? Were there a lot in your classes?

A: Exciting! Usually, we Summer College students stuck together, but the undergrads I did meet often came from other schools besides Stanford, and they were very kind. Class sizes vary, depending on what you take, but generally yes, there were a lot!

Q: What do I pack?

A: Optional, but highly recommended. Click Here

Q: Dating?

A: I don’t know how I was supposed to answer this, to be quite frank, but, I guess, yes? Dating will come up and be a thing. You’re all teenagers; it’s a given. Hormones, emotions, homesickness, the whole 9 yards. Keep it casual, safe, and there might (probably will) be drama, but don’t let that ruin your summer. Often remind yourself that it’s literally 8 weeks long– do with that reminder what you will.

Q: Commuter students? What’s life like for them?

A: I’m afraid my knowledge in this realm is limited. I only really got to know one, he was in both of my classes and I only got to know him at the end of the quarter, but he was really nice! If you are a commuter, the social experience won’t be the same, but I definitely recommend signing up for the weekend programs, because those are still open for you, and be very open to meeting new people!


The kicker. I won’t tell you my numbers or extracurricular activities, but I will leave you with this. (I emailed this to a few people):

I stressed over my application for about a month. Stanford is/was my dream school, and I wanted my application to be perfect because I would do anything to be a part of that school, even if just for a summer. I had 3 people read my essay; I treated it as if I was applying to Stanford itself. But ultimately, I knew that all I could do was present myself in my application as truthfully as possible. All we, as applicants, have in our power is how we present ourselves through the application and allow the admissions officers take care of the rest. 

Don’t worry about other kids and how you size up to other people and their achievements; you are you! And that is incredible and humble and ambitious, from what I can tell. You are on your own journey, and they are on there’s, so there is no need to pit yourself against them or devalue yourself in the face of them. 

My biggest piece of advice would be to present yourself as completely and truthfully as possible. They want to build a class of individuals that will create a vibrant culture, and the best thing you can do is put your best foot forward and make it clear that you can indeed contribute something amazing and unique to the community of bright-eyed kids there. 

Of course, I’m no expert on this, since I’ve only applied once, but that’s my biggest piece of advice. Just have fun with it, make it clear that you are passionate, willing to work hard and to plan to utilize all of the awesome resources that Stanford has to offer this summer, all while having fun and enjoying the company of the other students. Make it clear that you will live your summer to the fullest!

And of course, the cliche, just be yourself. You’re in high school, and they know that, and they look forward to reading your application. 🙂

Don’t stress too much; I bet you’re an absolutely lovely individual that the program would be lucky to have! 



-Make so many friends, bond with your dorm, invest time into the relationships you make

-Meet your professors!!!

-Don’t break the rules. There are literally three of them. Respect them.

-Go on walks and just breathe in the campus

-Get to know undergraduates!

-Typical high school study habits won’t fly in college– work hard

-But also, play harder :~)

Befriend your mentors, participate in dorm activities

-Take advantage of the recreation center; it’s beautiful.

-Audit courses and attend lectures even if you’re not enrolled! All courses are incredible and worth your time. Experience as much as you can. 

-Don’t be afraid to stay up late, have fun, and take advantage of off campus privileges

-Take advantage of study groups!!

-Enjoy. It’s what you make it; you have the power to make it the best summer of your life. 🙂

Long story short, it was the best. I made so many amazing friends, I took trips to the city and went to museums and concerts and just hung out. I worked my tail off (but it didn’t feel like stupid busy work (aka, all of high school) (I felt like my work was truly worth something)), I explored the campus and fell in love with it all over again, it’s unbelievable. You can honestly take whatever classes tickle your interest because a vast majority of them are engaging and worthwhile (recommendations that a lot of my friends took: Math51, CS106A, Physics15, this feminism class, this Greek mythology class, this one intro to neuroscience class, etc.). There’s also a week long shopping period, so you can bounce around and sign up and cancel classes until you finalize them! It’s very hard, but I know you can handle it. You just have to remember that you are in college (essentially), time management is key, and study groups/buddies and office hours are important. Also, be very open to forming relationships with your dorm mates and mentors. And take advantage of every opportunity there, whether it’s using the gym, signing up for every weekend program (!!!!!!), or hiking the Dish every morning, or exploring the greater Bay Area! You will have so much fun. However, it is what you make it. You can either have the best summer ever or feel like you’re drowning in class work.

Okay, now, that’s all I’ve got! If you have any other questions, comment below, so anyone else wondering the same thing can see it, too. I hope you have the time of your lives. It’s exciting, and I know there’s a huge lack of people on the Internet that are willing to answer questions about this program specifically, so I hope this helps!

Have fun, Go Card!! ❤ 




9 replies on “Everything I Know About Stanford’s High School Summer College

  1. I just found out about my acceptance to HSSC, and I am super excited about it. Your blog is so helpful that it got me even more excited. You are the best (if not only) person who talks about this experience online. I am looking forward to having an unforgettable summer just like you had.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you so much !! I have just applied and there’s very little information about this program online. This was so helpful, thank you so much !! I really hope I am accepted because this is the oppurtunity of a lifetime. I do have one question though, with meeting people, did you only meet people near your rooms and all or did you make friends who wern’t.


    1. I’m happy to help! Many of my friends were in my dorm and one of our neighboring sister dorms, but it’s easy to meet people from all over.


  3. Will you be at Stanford anytime this summer? I’m sure a lot of the HSSC this year would love to meet you!


    1. Oh my gosh, this is so flattering what! Yes, I should be around, I’m hoping to get a job in the area for the summer, but I am sure I’ll be on campus at least once! We’ll see 🙂


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