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Common Parent Questions

How do I ensure my child chooses courses that will enhance the college application?

The Secondary School Program staff members have a lot of experience advising high school students. We will work with your child to help them select courses that suit their skills, interests, and goals. You may wish to help your child identify some areas of interest, but we highly recommend that you then encourage him or her to connect with one of us. Because we’re intimately familiar with the summer course offerings, we can help ensure that your child enrolls in courses that will help him or her succeed.

Does attending the Secondary School Program guarantee admission to Harvard?

No. However, attending Harvard Summer School and performing well will strengthen your application to any college or university. Additionally, the Secondary School Program offers many opportunities designed to help you navigate the college-application process, gain admission to the college of your choice, and enhance your performance in a college setting.

Is financial aid available?

We do award a limited number of partial scholarships based on academic merit and financial need. See Program Cost for more information.

My child will be starting ninth grade in the fall. Can she/he attend?

Local ninth-grade students may apply to take an on-campus Summer School course. They must complete and submit the Preliminary Application for Ninth Graders. If their preliminary application is successful, they may apply to the Secondary School Program.

Ninth-graders admitted to the program register for a Summer School course and attend classes on campus as students commuting from home. They may make full use of Harvard’s summer academic resources, such as libraries, computer facilities, and the Summer School Academic Tutor Program. But they do not participate in extracurricular activities, including intramural sports, and trips. Still, they are welcome in the program offices and are encouraged to speak with our assistant deans or other staff if they have a question or a problem with their course.

May homeschooled students apply?

Yes, we welcome applications from students who are being schooled at home. Adults in the student’s life, other than family, may be asked to submit a letter of recommendation. One or two letters are sufficient.

Can I gain access to my student’s application, records, and information?

In accordance with our policy and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA), we cannot release information such as a student’s grades or class schedule to family members or guardians. Except for information defined as “directory information,” no other information about Secondary School Program students is released outside the University—including to parents, guardians, or family members—without the student’s prior written consent, unless otherwise authorized or required by law.

We communicate by e-mail directly with prospective and current students—not with parents or other third parties. Please be sure your child checks e-mail daily to ensure he or she receives important communications from the Secondary School Program.

How closely are students supervised?

The Secondary School Program is a college-level program for high school students, so we treat our students like college students. We expect them to assume responsibility for themselves. They must manage their own schedule of sleep, study, and extracurricular activities. In the dorms, there is no “lights out” or “bed check.” Though the younger students (those who will be juniors next fall and graduating in 2018) have an in-the-dorm curfew (and are supervised by a higher ratio of proctors), the older students do not.

This may be the first time your child has experienced this level of self-responsibility. And we understand that it may take some adjustment. Still, we expect our students to be mature enough to attend all their class meetings, to do the academic work required of them, and to abide by the rules and policies set down in the student handbook (available online in June).

How can I be assured of the safety and security of my child while on campus?

Harvard takes safety and security seriously and offers many services, tools, policies, and procedures to help maintain a safe environment on campus. And the Secondary School Program staff is always available for our students. If your child has a problem or complaint, or if they ever feel unsafe, we offer many avenues of assistance and support.

  • They can visit the program office any weekday between 9 am and 5 pm. Assistant deans and other staff will be on site and ready to talk with them about absolutely anything.

  • Residential students have a representative of the administration living very close by: their proctor lives on the hallway or in the entryway where they live. They will know their proctor’s cell phone number.

  • Commuting students will be able to contact their assistant dean directly.

  • In an emergency, or after hours and on weekends and holidays, students can call the Harvard Police (HUPD) or visit University Health Services (UHS) After-Hours Urgent Care. The police and health services are available to students 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What policies related to conduct should I be aware of?

Your student should read the student handbook (available online in June), and the policy section of the website, both of which outline student responsibilities in such areas as conduct, attendance, and academic integrity. Harvard Summer School puts safety first, and Secondary School Program rules prohibiting involvement with alcohol and drugs are an important factor in our effort to provide students with a positive environment for study and growth in the summer.

This is why the program supports a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to illegal substances. Zero tolerance means that a student found to have attended a gathering where alcohol or drugs are present is subject to immediate dismissal from the Summer School. No Summer School fees are refunded to students who are required to withdraw. Students required to withdraw receive a grade of RQ for their course(s), and this disciplinary consequence is reportable on college applications.

We try hard to prevent our students from becoming involved with alcohol or drugs, yet every summer we find ourselves sending several students home early. Please counsel your student to abide by all Summer School rules and policies, as outlined in the Harvard Summer School Student Handbook (available to students online in June).

May my child leave campus for an overnight stay?

Like college students, Secondary School Program students are not restricted to campus and may have dinner or do other activities off campus. However, an off-campus overnight stay requires the approval of the Secondary School Program assistant dean. Overnight stays are only permitted on Friday and Saturday nights. Requests must be submitted no later than 4 pm on the prior Wednesday. When students arrive on campus, they receive the student handbook, which details these policies.

What do I need to keep in mind when making travel arrangements for my child?

Please understand that Harvard cannot take responsibility for students before 9 am on the Saturday of Opening Weekend, or after noon on the last Saturday of the summer term. In the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, minors (below the age of 18) may not check into a hotel by themselves, and therefore do not schedule your student to arrive before Opening Weekend or to leave after the Saturday the dorms close.

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