Common Questions About the Secondary School Program
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Information on this page applies to 2019 programs only. Our 2020 program information will be online mid-fall. Join our email list, and we’ll contact you when the information is updated.
How do I ensure that I choose courses that will enhance my college application?
The Secondary School Program staff members have a lot of experience advising high school students. We will work with students to help them select courses that suit their skills, interests, and goals. Because we are intimately familiar with the summer course offerings, we can help ensure that you enroll in courses that will help you 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?
Yes. Scholarship amounts depend on variables such as family finances, availability of funds, and whether a student lives on campus, commutes, or attends online. Harvard Summer School staff cannot predict how much aid a student may be offered. Students are strongly encouraged to apply for admission to the Secondary School Program and complete the financial aid application by the February 1 deadline. All submitted material will be reviewed. See Program Cost for more information.
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 submit a letter of recommendation. One or two letters are sufficient.
Can my family or guardians gain access to my 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 email directly with prospective and current students—not with parents or other third parties. Please be sure you check email daily to ensure you receive 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) have an in-the-dorm curfew, the older students do not.
This may be the first time you have 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. (Please note: the Student Handbook will be available here soon.)
How can I be assured of safety and security 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 you have a problem or complaint, or if you ever feel unsafe, we offer many avenues of assistance and support.
Students 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?
You should read the Student Handbook and the policy section of the website, both of which outline student responsibilities in areas such 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 strict policy when it comes to illegal substances. A student found to have attended a gathering where alcohol or other drugs are present is subject to 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.
The Secondary School Program maintains a “Do the Smart Thing” policy on alcohol and other drugs. Students encountering a gathering at which alcohol or other drugs are present should leave immediately and seek the assistance of a proctor or assistant dean. Help should be sought for any sick or incapacitated student, no matter the cause. Neither the student who proactively reports alcohol or other drug use, or use-related illness, nor the student for whom assistance is sought, will be required to withdraw from the Summer School.
On the other hand, an SSP student who fails to speak up about the presence of alcohol or other drugs, or fails to seek assistance for a sick or incapacitated student, is subject to disciplinary action.
But prevention is best, so we urge students not to become involved with alcohol or drugs. Please abide by all Summer School policies as outlined in the Harvard Summer School Student Handbook.
May I 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 a Secondary School Program assistant dean. Overnight stays are permitted only on Friday and Saturday nights. Requests must be submitted no later than 4 pm on the prior Wednesday. The Student Handbook details these policies.
What do I need to keep in mind when making travel arrangements?
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 to arrive before Opening Weekend or to leave after the Saturday the dorms close.
I will be flying to Boston. How should I travel to the Harvard campus?
Students are responsible for their transportation to campus. We recommend taking a taxi cab, especially if you have heavy luggage. The cab ride costs $35 to $40 and takes 15 to 20 minutes.
Public transportation is also available. The commute is longer, but costs less than $3. The Silver Line bus will take you from the airport terminal directly to the Red Line subway, which has a stop in Harvard Square. More comprehensive information about arrival and directions to the check-in location for Opening Weekend will be posted closer to the start of the program.
What if I arrive late during Opening Weekend?
Travel to campus should be scheduled so that Secondary School Program students can check in during regular check-in hours on Opening Weekend. Arrival on Saturday is greatly preferred. If arriving Sunday, checking in before 3 pm is strongly recommended.
However, we understand that delays en route may be unavoidable. In Massachusetts, people under 18 years of age are prohibited by law from checking into a hotel unaccompanied by an adult. Therefore, Secondary School Program students with on-campus housing who arrive after check-in closes at 5 pm on Saturday or 4 pm on Sunday of Opening Weekend should proceed to the Harvard College campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Students should go to Widener Gate—located behind Widener Library and directly across the street from SEE Eyewear at 1276 Massachusetts Avenue—and tell Harvard personnel that they are a Secondary School Program student. Security guards and Summer School staff at Widener Gate will then assist the student.
If a student becomes lost, he or she should call the Harvard University Police Department at 617-495-1212, and explain that they are a Secondary School Program student who has just arrived and needs directions to Widener Gate.
May I arrive after Opening Weekend?
It’s best to arrive on time. Students may arrive as late as mid-afternoon on Sunday of Opening Weekend, as there is still time to check in, find their room, and attend evening orientation activities. Arriving any later, especially into the first week of classes, can make matters unmanageable for the student, as well as for roommates, proctors, and faculty.
Summer School students may not miss class meetings. If arriving on Opening Weekend is not possible, permission to arrive late may be granted if no class meetings will be missed. Students and parents may read, complete, and return the Late Arrival Request Form to request permission to arrive after Opening Weekend.