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Mentor Immersion: A Virtual Research Experience at PTY

2021 Mentor Immersion experiences have been announced!
Applications are now being accepted!

PTY’s mentorship program is a unique experience offering in-depth exposure in a field and the potential for independent research or a culminating product to be created with expert feedback. This virtual program runs during the spring term, from January to June 2021, and is designed for 10th through 12th grade students. Students apply for a mentorship placement based on the descriptions provided on the PTY website. If paired with a mentor in the field, students will participate in weekly 2 hour online meetings with their mentor or mentor team and 2-5 other students in the same mentorship experience. Each week students will learn more about the content area of their mentor and explore real world topics about how to be successful in the field of study. The experiences and conversations in the winter will lay the foundation for each student to complete independent research or a project, under the guidance of their mentor, during the spring months. Participants will present their completed projects to their mentor and other Vanderbilt faculty and staff either on campus or virtually in Summer 2021.

Jump to: Program Timeline | Admissions Qualifications | Fees and Tuition | How to Apply | Technology and Materials Requirements | Frequently Asked Questions

Program Timeline

October 1Mentorship Descriptions Announced
October 15Online Application Opens
November 3Review of first round applications begins; rolling admission continues based on eligibility and availability
December 1Admissions Notifications sent on or before this date for students who applied before November 3
December 15Tuition and required forms due
January 11, 2021Mentorship Begins
March 8-14No meetings - Spring Break
June 30Program ends

Admissions Qualifications

PTY’s Mentorship Immersion program is a rigorous program that requires a substantial and sustained time commitment of approximately six months with an independent project component. Because of this, admission to the program is selective based on eligibility, with our most popular mentorships involving a competitive selection process. In order to determine if the PTY’s mentorship program is a good fit, all students are required to submit an application to the specific mentorship experience(s) they are interested in applying. The review process for selecting students for the program involves a thorough review of a student’s qualifying test scores, transcript, resume, and thoughtful essay response.

The following are components of the application that are reviewed together to determine fit and placement. We will consider all components of the application when making a determination about admission into the program.

Please note, students are asked to apply for specific mentorship experience(s) rather than the mentorship program overall. You may rank order the mentorship experiences of most interest to you when you apply. You do not have to rank all experiences, only those you are interested in. If PTY receives more applications from eligible students than we have spaces available in a particular mentorship, placement will become a competitive selection process for that mentorship. In this instance, PTY will employ a holistic, context-aware review process to determine which students will be placed in the experience. Therefore, PTY recommends that students are thoughtful with their resume and essay submission regardless of the mentorship that they are applying to.

Here is a description of the required application components:

  • Test Scores: Scores in the 90th percentile and above for their age group in one or more sections on an advanced achievement assessment (ACT, SAT, PSAT, or AP scores within the content area of the mentorship) or any other nationally normed standardized assessment (such as state testing, if advanced achievement assessment scores are not available) would suggest that this program might be a good fit academically for a student. However, PTY does not have cutoffs for standardized test scores in order to apply to the program. When reviewing mentorship applications, we evaluate students’ test scores as one component of the application in addition to a student’s transcript, resume, and essay. Our mentorship program is designed for students who have performed well based on the opportunities and experiences that are available to them. Also, please note that scores above the 90th percentile to do not automatically guarantee admission into the program.
  • Transcript: All students are required to submit a current transcript. Grades of mostly As and Bs suggest that the mentorship program would be a good academic fit. Also, please make sure your transcript reflects particular required prerequisites for certain mentorships. Through the transcript review process, we are looking for students who are highly motivated since the mentorship program is rigorous and requires independent work outside of the weekly meetings. PTY also understands that extenuating circumstances might impact a student’s grades. Please make sure you provide additional information if you believe your grades do not accurately demonstrate your ability or commitment to academics.
  • Resume: We want to know more about you! Submit a one-page resume as part of your application so we have a better understanding of your interests and extracurricular activities. Knowing more about you helps PTY determine if this program is a good fit. The resume should include extracurricular activities, work/volunteer experience, awards and honors, etc.
  • Essay: Since PTY’s mentorship program is an intensive academic experience, we want to hear more about why you want to make this commitment as well as why you are interested in the particular mentorship that you have selected as your first choice. Please limit your essay to under 600 words.

International Students: Vanderbilt considers you an international student if you are a citizen of any nation other than the United States of America. You are not considered an international student if you are a dual U.S. citizen, U.S. Permanent Resident, refugee/asylee, or a U.S. citizen living abroad. If you are an international student, in addition to the other qualification documents, you will be prompted to submit documents showing demonstrated proficiency in English.

To learn more about eligibility, please refer to the PTY Eligibility page or call 615-322-8261.

Fees & Tuition Costs 

Tuition for this unique mentor experience is $2500 per student. Travel to campus for the culminating experience (if applicable) is not included. Traveling to campus the culminating experience is not a requirement of participation in the program. Tuition costs cover the online meetings and access to the mentor from January through June. A $50 nonrefundable application fee should be included with the application. This $50 nonrefundable application fee may be submitted online at the time of application submission. The application fee is nonrefundable regardless of a student’s placement or admittance in a mentorship program. Only the application fee is due when applying. You will receive a tuition statement via email if your student is admitted in a ranked mentorship experience. PTY does not collect full tuition until after a student has been admitted and placed with a mentor.

Financial Assistance 

PTY is committed to making programs available to academically advanced students regardless of a family’s ability to pay the full tuition. Therefore, need-based financial aid is available based on income. The PTY application review process is need-blind and does not consider financial status. Applying for financial aid will not negatively impact a student’s application. If you plan to apply for financial aid at the time of application submission, you may do this as part of the application process. You may apply for financial aid at any point in the application and admission process. If you choose to apply for financial aid after submitting your application, please email to be granted access to the online financial aid application.

Your student may be offered admission to the program before receiving a financial aid award. You are not obligated to officially enroll your student until you receive a financial aid quote. When your financial aid quote is received, you may accept or decline the amount and placement in a course. Please contact the PTY office at 615-322-8261 if you have additional questions about financial aid or other payment options.

How to Apply

Mentorship Preferences

As part of the application process, you can rank order multiple mentorship opportunities (1st choice, 2nd choice, etc.). Ranking multiple opportunities in no way negatively impacts your chances of being placed in your first choice mentorship. At the same time, only ranking one mentorship does not increase your chances of being placed. If you are placed in a mentorship that you ranked lower in your application, you will remain on the waiting list for mentorships that you ranked higher. You can rank as many (or as few) mentorships as you have interest.

Admissions Process & Placement 

Applications for the Mentor Immersion program starting January 2021 will be released on Thursday, October 15, 2020. Please visit the Apply to a PTY Program webpage for a link to the Mentor Immersion application starting October 15.

We also ask that you carefully read the section below to learn more on the details of how PTY’s admissions process works for this program.

Mentor Immersion accepts applications beginning October 15. Starting November 3, complete applications will be equally prioritized and reviewed for fit and placement. All applications received between October 15 and November 3 will be evaluated with the same level of priority and rigor. Therefore, you can apply at any point during this time period. However, applying during this window does not guarantee placement in a mentorship even if you are eligible. Applications received by November 3 will receive notification of decisions by December 1.

Please note that you may show interest in more than one mentorship experience as part of your application. Showing interest by ranking more than one mentorship opportunity will not decrease your chances of being placed in your top-ranked mentorship. Ranking more than one mentorship experience may increase your overall chances for placement in the program if you are eligible after the rigorous review process. See the waiting list section below for more information about ranking, placements, and waiting lists.

After November 3, applications received are examined with the same level of rigor as previously submitted applications, but applications are reviewed on a rolling basis based on the date in which they are received. Students also may apply for mentorships that are currently full after November 3. A student’s position on the waiting list for applications received after November 3 will be based on eligibility and the date/time the application was submitted.

We encourage students applying after November 3 to visit the Mentor Immersion experiences page before applying to check availability, as the application fee is nonrefundable regardless of whether a student is placed in a mentorship. Please note that while we try to keep our website as up-to-date as possible concerning mentorship availability, sometimes our availability changes quickly during peak application times. Make sure to check the date published on the website of when the mentorship availability page was last updated. We anticipate that many of our mentorship opportunities will fill quickly, so we recommend that students apply before November 3 to be considered in our first round of admissions.

Admissions Notification

Students will be notified of admissions decisions by December 1 if they applied on or before November 3. Students applying after November 3 will receive information about their admission status on a rolling basis after December 1.

PTY is unable to process incomplete applications. We ask that you complete your application as soon as possible to be considered for admission. You can check the completeness of your application through the application portal. PTY will also be in touch as soon as possible about missing components. However, note that incomplete applications can result in delayed processing and could impact placement.

For families who have applied for financial aid, financial aid information may be included in the admissions notice if you are placed in a mentorship program and financial aid materials have already been submitted. The admissions notice will include the tuition statement.

Waiting List 

A waiting list is retained for all full mentorship opportunities. Students who we are unable to offer a place in a particular mentorship due to space will be placed on a waiting list. Being placed on a waiting list means you are eligible for the program, but there is not a space available in the particular mentorship experience you are interested in.

Those applying to mentorships before November 3 who are not offered a place in the mentorship through the competitive review process will be placed on a waiting list for the mentorship, if eligible. A student’s placement on a waiting list will be randomly assigned for applications received before November 3. Eligible students who apply after November 3 will be placed on the waiting list based on the date/time of application receipt.

Waiting lists are held until close to the start of the mentorship program session. No tuition payment will be owed until you are placed in a mentorship that you ranked in your application. The application fee, however, is nonrefundable.

If you have been placed on a waiting list, and you have questions about your status on the waitlist, please contact PTY at 615.322.8261 or

Cancellation Policy 

The application fee is nonrefundable for all applicants regardless of admission or placement in a mentorship. No tuition refunds will be granted after the tuition deadline for the session. Please see the Program Timeline section above for program tuition refund deadline.

Required Forms 

Upon admission into the program, families will receive instructions concerning required forms. Required forms includes emergency contact information, participant permission, media release, etc. All students who participate in programs through Programs for Talented Youth (PTY) must have current required forms for the 2020-2021 school year on file with PTY.

Technology and Materials Requirements

Internet speed: Many online video conferencing platforms, which will be utilized for live mentorship experiences, have specific bandwidth requirements. Typically, an internet speed of 1.5 megabits per second (mbps), for both upload and download speeds, is needed on these platforms. If you would like to test your internet speed, you can visit:

Device: It is recommended that students have uninterrupted access during live mentorship times to a laptop computer, desktop computer, iPad, or tablet for classroom experiences. Students should not use a mobile device. Windows, Mac and Chrome OS Operating Systems are compatible with all courses.

Class Materials: In addition to a computer, most mentorship materials required will be typical classroom supplies (e.g. pencil/pen, notebook, graph paper, ruler, calculator) and are provided by the student. Any specific materials (e.g. book, downloadable documents) will be provided by PTY. Some classes may also require free software to be downloaded. This information will be provided before the course begins or as soon as possible. Any required texts will be sent to a student’s home address as listed in their SchoolDoc account. Please make sure your SchoolDoc profile is up-to-date with the correct mailing address information.