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Old 03-23-2015, 01:48 PM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 356
Opinions on, or experience with, Duke Univ. TIP

If you understand the title, you may be the perfect person to answer this.

Sooo, my daughter, who is in 7th grade and is really, really smart, was asked by her school to participate in a tryout (?) for the Duke University Talent Identification Program. The "tryout" involved her sitting for the SAT back in February. Well, her scores came in, and unsurprisingly she rocked the reading, and to a lesser extent writing, sections and has been invited to participate in the program this summer. My question is, has anyone here participated in this program or sent a kid to it? Was it a valuable experience, did it help in any way on college applications, will she have fun? Is it ridiculous to send a 13 year old kid to a college campus for a few weeks over the summer to take a psychology and/or myths and legends course?

I'm not opposed to sleep away summer camps, and I KNOW my daughter is plenty mature to handle this. In fact, I think it could be great for her to be around similar kids. I had just never heard of this program and was hoping for some anecdotal evidence.

(Plus I think their web site is a little thin: )
Old 03-23-2015, 02:07 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: DC area
Posts: 29,639
Originally Posted by rpinrd View Post
My question is, has anyone here participated in this program or sent a kid to it? Was it a valuable experience, did it help in any way on college applications, will she have fun? Is it ridiculous to send a 13 year old kid to a college campus for a few weeks over the summer to take a psychology and/or myths and legends course?

I'm not opposed to sleep away summer camps, and I KNOW my daughter is plenty mature to handle this. In fact, I think it could be great for her to be around similar kids. I had just never heard of this program and was hoping for some anecdotal evidence.

(Plus I think their web site is a little thin: )
If she would enjoy it and will make friends, it seems like a good idea.

If she won't enjoy it, I doubt (but could be wrong) that it would make any difference on college applications.
Old 03-23-2015, 02:29 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Pace, FL
Posts: 378
My son is part of Duke TIP, but is in a younger age bracket. I have some experience with the online courses, and have looked at the summer programs. I can't answer your question, but would be interested in hearing about other experiences also.
Old 03-23-2015, 02:34 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 4,498
My best friend growing up did the program back in the early 80s and loved it (I missed the cut on the SAT). He went back at least once, and Duke offered him admission (though he did not go). He was in 7th grade when he got in.
Old 03-23-2015, 02:46 PM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 356
prettydorky did your son qualify for the math and science section? My daughter didn't and I was (internally of course) disappointed. Some of the summer science courses looked fascinating, but that's my bias. Her interests lie elsewhere. For example, she looked over the entire catalog and picked psychology??

Algher do you have any idea if your friend was offered scholarship money to go back to Duke? In the one info session my daughter's school had, there was some mention of increased scholarship opportunities, but I'm not sure how aspirational that was. Also, it's interesting that your friend was involved in the early 80s. That's about when I would have been eligible (graduated HS in '89), I was mildly ahead of the curve in this kind of thing, and I had NEVER heard of the Duke program until this year.

Another question, is this a regional thing? We live in Texas. Why is a NC school trying to poach my daughter? Why isn't the University of Texas defending it's home turf?
Old 03-23-2015, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: Pace, FL
Posts: 378
rpinrd, my son was entering 4th grade when his PATS teacher recommended Duke TIP based on an IQ test. He has not had any SAT or other subject-matter testing yet, other than the awful grade-level standardized tests that are the norm here in Florida.

We paid an enrollment fee (~$30), and he gets access to online courses, a fantastic discount on Rosetta Stone, and a newsletter geared toward gifted kids. There's a website with lots of academic contests, a national book club, and some other opportunities.

The summer programs for the younger kids are a little bit different, shorter term and mostly non-residential. They are very cool looking, but they're not what I would call cheap and honestly, he's more into Minecraft than these supplemental opportunities ATM.

Another similar program is Johns Hopkins' CTY, and they have a talent search also, with their own testing.

My understanding is that these programs are more about enrichment than recruitment. There are 3 or 4 that I know of around the country. I can't see it making an appreciable difference on a college application, except that once in high school, there are probably some college-level courses and credits possible.
Old 03-23-2015, 04:13 PM
Join Date: Jan 2007
Location: Southern California
Posts: 4,498
I was in Tulsa at the time when I was invited to take the SAT for the Duke program. - so around 1981 / 1982. No clue if he got extra scholarship, but he got a full ride to another school so he didn't head to Duke.

Lots of schools will do stuff like this, in hopes of grabbing the brand loyalty of younger kids so that if they end up being National Merit Scholars they will choose the summer camp school (or at least apply). This all helps with rankings, and is cheap form of recruitment. I received an award from Princeton when I was in high school that was nothing other than a way for them to get my attention (it worked, but I ended up going to Stanford instead).

So apply, send the youngster to Duke if they get in if you can afford it. I loved academic oriented camps (Nerd!) and have fond memories of many of them.
Old 03-23-2015, 06:55 PM
Join Date: Feb 2001
Location: South Carolina
Posts: 24,534
I went back in the 90's and it was the best most awesome thing I ever did. I know it's very different now (broader, many more options, etc.) but I'd recommend the summer residential programs to anybody, I'm sure they are still great. I did four years.
Old 03-23-2015, 08:48 PM
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 2,723
I don't have any direct experience with Duke's offerings, but as a teacher I have had a few students over the years who have attended programs like this, and my son was a "counselor" (that wasn't the actual job title, but I forget what was) at one when he was in college.

The kids seem to have a good time, IF they're the sorts who like these kinds of courses and IF they have a certain degree of maturity. Which most, but not all, do.

I would be surprised if being in one of these programs has much to do with college admissions. Students who achieved a lot in high school don't need to fall back on something they did in MS, and if you haven't done much of anything since middle school you probably aren't going to get a boost based on something you did back when you were younger. But I have no evidence either way.

One thing I thought I'd mention; may have posted about this before. I had a student a few years back whose parents were quite invested in him being supremely gifted. They hooked up with a prestigious college known for these kinds of summer programs and having a general interest in identifying gifted students (it was NOT Duke); I don't recall whether the parents sought out the school or whether the school sought out the kid.

The school did a whole battery of tests on him and sent the parents a summary that concluded that yes, the kid was gifted, should take their courses, attend their summer programs, etc, etc, etc. So far so OK.

The problem was that when we looked closely at the results (the parents shared the report with us), the evidence didn't exactly back up the summary. Most of his scores and subscores put him in nice solid percentiles--88, 82, 91, like that--but there were very few for which he was in the top 5% let alone the top 1%--and there were just as many which put him in the middle of the pack or even below.

What frosted my doughnuts the most was a note on one of the subtests: "Technically speaking, [name] scored at the 7th percentile, but that was clearly not an accurate reflection of his true ability. So we continued with the test anyway and he would have been in the 98th percentile had we been able to count it!"*

I don't know. It smacked a lot of "give the families what they want to hear, then profit!" I don't say this has a bearing on your case at all, and again, this wasn't Duke...but fair or not, it kind of soured me on these programs in general.

*Explanation for my discomfort: These kinds of tests typically have you ask a long series of questions until the child reaches a certain number of errors--missing three in a row, say, or five overall, something like that. At that point you stop the test, count the number of correct answers, and convert it into a percentile. What evidently happened with this boy was that he hit that number of errors very early on in the process, whether through carelessness, misunderstanding, or what. You really should not continue the test at that point, as the scales are all predicated on stopping when the cutoff is reached; and you certainly should not report a hypothetical score as it has no meaning. For all we know, if we'd allowed the other kids who reached the error threshold at the seventh percentile to keep going, they too would have reached the same score he did, and then the percentile becomes much, much lower.
Old 03-23-2015, 09:12 PM
Join Date: Nov 1999
Location: DC
Posts: 19,401
There are a few summer programs that are very prestigious, very competitive, and free. These programs are very well regarded and will figure into university admissions.

There are a larger number of programs, including those attached to very big names, that are not particularly competitive and quite expensive. Often these programs are managed as an independent program, and do not share staff or faculty with the hosting university. For admissions purposes, these programs are not going to give you any particular edge, even at the universities involved. They "count" as an extra-curricular and look better than doing nothing for the summer. But they won't be treated any different than holding a summer job, going to camp, or volunteering at the library. Admissions officers are really looking for extracurriculars that show signs of commitment and leadership, and just taking a class is kind of a weak example of that unless it is part of a larger narrative.

That said, these programs can have an enormous impact on a child. I went to a similar program when I was young, and it was an amazing experience for me to surrounded by learning-focused kids and classes that were actually challenging. Being on a college campus and having some independence was inspiring and built my confidence. i'm grateful that my family was able to make that happen for me.
Old 03-23-2015, 09:42 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: SE Georgia
Posts: 3,686
I attended the program in 1982, and I understand that it has changed a lot through the years. When I attended, it was quite competitive - I was one of five kids in my school system who qualified for testing, and the only one in the county who made the cut that year. (IIRC, two made it the years before and after I did.) For me, it was a valuable experience. It was my first time away from home for that length of time (three weeks, I think?) and I learned a lot - I was in the math program. Socially, it was a good thing for me, too: instead of being the weird smart kid at school, I was just one of the gang while at TIP. And I'm still good friends with my roommate from the program.

My daughter was invited to participate last year, but due to a lot of issues at home, we just didn't have the resources for her to go, so she decided not to take the test.

As it turns out, my attendance was something in my favor when scholarship time rolled around - I didn't go to Duke, but my TIP participation was a mark in my favor when I received a National Merit Scholarship. (However, the other two members of my graduating class who received the NMS didn't attend. So there you go.)

Mind you, a whole lot may have changed in the ensuing 30+ years!
Old 03-23-2015, 11:00 PM
Join Date: May 1999
Location: at the right hand of cool
Posts: 36,949
Growing up, I knew several folks that did it (I did another super-dork camp at Duke, the Duke Young Writers Camp). Everyone I know who did it loved it.

Today, I know one of the guys that runs it, sort of: Richard Courtright is an expert on gifted education (and taught me astrophysics in the fifth grade--cool guy). From what I know of him, I'd absolutely send my kids to a program he helps run.
Old 03-24-2015, 01:37 PM
Join Date: Mar 1999
Location: Bohemia. A seacoast.
Posts: 6,242
A lot of my grad school classmates taught in the TIP program. It sounded like they had fun, and the kids had fun, although I doubt that it makes any particular difference in college admissions. I'd say do it if you can afford it and it sounds like something your kid would like.
Old 03-24-2015, 06:44 PM
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: somewhere else
Posts: 4,809
I took the SAT in middle school as a part of the Duke TIP and qualified, but did not go to the summer program at Duke due to the cost. I ended up going to a cheaper summer program at a local private college instead. Don't recall exactly which year of school I was in but doubt it was 7th grade. 6th or 8th seem more likely for various reasons.

I remember enjoying the summer program but doubt it had anything at all to do with my college acceptance. Frankly, most of the kids at that program were going to have their choice of schools anyway.

Come my senior year I did get a LOT of recruitment material from Duke. Maybe they were dredging up the list of contacts from the prior testing? Dunno. I was in a neighboring state so Duke was considered one of the better schools in the region.

And as to college scholarships... it didn't get me one cent.
Old 03-24-2015, 11:26 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: "Hicksville", Ark.
Posts: 33,113
Huh. I was a part of this, although they did the ACT, not the SAT. But I don't remember there being a summer program. I did get to go up and get this cool book on relativity and a nice certificate, but that's all I remember. The only summer camps I went to were for choir.

Maybe there was such a program but my parents didn't tell me about it because they knew we didn't have enough money to go? Heck, the school had paid for the test in the first place. I was always one of those students who got a "scholarship" or actually had to earn the money. I alternated between the free and reduced price lunch program.

And, yeah, it didn't help me at all for college. I guess I could have taken the score I got in seventh grade and used it to apply for college (as it was high enough to get in if not for scholarships) but when I got another free shot as a senior, I chose that instead.
Old 03-25-2015, 11:06 AM
Join Date: Nov 2000
Posts: 356
Thanks all. You pretty much confirmed my thoughts. Im glad that so many had positive experiences. I had some sneaking suspicion that it might be about as prestigious or difficult to get into as the Whos Who of American High School Students (or whatever that scam is called), but it sounds at least more legit than that. My daughter is very excited about being on campus and getting a look at college. Shes even excited to have a roommate and to have to do laundry in a coin-op machine! So shell go, but were going to look at it as sleepaway summer camp for smart kids and an awesome experience, but wont expect too much out of it in terms of actual college success.
Old 03-25-2015, 06:03 PM
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 1,330
Sounds like I'm late to the game, but I did TIP in the late 80's and absolutely LOVED it. In many ways it was the best thing that had ever happened to me up to that point, and it changed my life in a lot of ways. I grew up in a fairly small town, and just to be around other kids who thought learning was fun, who enjoyed reading books, who liked doing math -- it was tremendous. The classes I took were a lot of fun and much more rigorous than what I was able to get at home. I also met my best friend there -- we're still best friends twenty-five years later -- and another good friend of mine went there as well (we aren't sure if we ever met at TIP, but we later ended up in school together). I TA'ed for TIP in college and also had a great time doing that, and still keep up with one of my students from that time. I'm so glad you're letting your kid go, because I think she will have a blast.

At least in the 80's, the Duke Talent Identification Program was administered over most of the southeast, including Texas (which is probably why you're hearing from them and not the University of Texas). Johns Hopkins' CTY program covered the northeast. The west I'm not sure about. And I'm sure things must be at least a little different now

I don't remember it influencing college admissions decisions in any way; I am not even sure I put it on my college admissions (which is mostly about one's high school experiences in any case). I did get finalist callbacks to a Duke scholarship, but I don't think it was because of TIP (and I didn't end up getting the scholarship anyway).

So yes, "sleepaway camp for smart kids and an awesome experience" is right on!
Old 03-27-2015, 02:45 AM
Charter Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: Charlottesville, Va.
Posts: 10,147
I did four consecutive summers at the camp held at Western Kentucky University. I learned many valuable lessons about life, the most lasting of which might be that you really shouldn't skimp on how many quarters you spend when it comes to drying your clothes. And, in the process of traipsing day after day around the campus of a university whose mascot is the aptly chosen Hilltopper, I got some really good exercise!

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