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Rising Experts: Mini Mentor Immersion (Grades 7-9)

Fall 2024 Rising Experts Mentorships will be announced on June 4, 2024

Rising Experts is a unique virtual experience designed specifically for 7th through 9th grade students. The program pairs approximately 10 students with a mentor/content expert in a field. This program offers students early exposure to the content of a field, related career path information, and the opportunity to complete a small project associated with the field. This project provides an introduction to the work associated with the interest area. Small mentor group sizes allow for more personalized experiences.

Each Rising Experts mini mentorship meets live and online for 4 hours a week (two hours twice a week) for a month. Mentorship times vary by experience. The times of the meetings will be posted with each specific mentorship description.

During this 1-month small group experience, students can expect 4 hours (2 hours twice a week) with their mentor and classmates each week, 1 optional hour of study hall/office hours each week to meet with their mentor and get support on individual projects, and approximately 1-2 hours per week of meaningful asynchronous work.

Fall 2024 Dates:

October 19, 2024 to November 22, 2024

Spring 2025 Dates:

January 25, 2025 to February 25, 2025

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

Fall 2024 Program Timeline

June 4Mentorship Descriptions Announced
August 26Online Application Opens
August 29Last Day to Submit Your Application for First Round Admissions (Priority Window Closes)
September 13Admissions Notifications for Those Applying During the Priority Window
October 1Tuition and Required Forms Due
October 19Mini-Immersion Begins
November 22Mini-Immersion Concludes

Spring 2025 Program Timeline

October 1Mentorship Descriptions Announced
October 8Online Application Opens
October 10Last Day to Submit Your Application for First Round Admissions (Priority Window Closes)
October 25Admissions Notifications for Those Applying During the Priority Window
November 8Tuition and Required Forms Due
January 25Mini-Immersion Begins
February 25Mini-Immersion Concludes

Admissions Qualifications

In order to determine if Rising Expert’s accelerated mentorship experience is a good fit, all students are required to submit qualifying documentation as part of their application.

Please note, Rising Experts does not compare one student to another in the admissions process. We review a student’s application in its entirety to ensure that the program will be a good academic fit for the student. Incomplete applications will not be considered in first-round reviews.

There are two application components:

1. Test Scores or Educator Recommendations

At this time, due to the impact that COVID has had on testing availability and requirements, PTY is allowing for students who do not have test scores available to submit two educator recommendations in lieu of test scores. Selecting one option over the other will not help or hurt a student’s chances of placement.

Test Scores Option:

Please note that test scores in the 90th percentile and above for age group in one or more sections on an advanced achievement assessment (ACT, SAT, PSAT) OR any other nationally normed standardized assessment (such as state testing, MAP/NWEA testing, ITBS, or ERB) if advanced achievement assessment scores are not available suggests that VSA would be a good fit academically for a student. We also accept cognitive measures (i.e., WISC-V, CogAT, Otis Lennon, Stanford-Binet) and out-of-level test scores (i.e., ACT in 7th grade). Individual ability and/or achievement assessments from psychologists are also accepted. All pages of the individual evaluation and assessment need to be included. Test scores should be less than three years old.

When reviewing scores, we look specifically at strengths and accelerated achievement in the content area(s) for selected mentorship(s) of interest. For example, if a student is applying to a humanities mentorship, the PTY team is looking at reading/writing/ELA test scores.

Students may submit a screenshot or picture of an assessment as long as the student’s name is visible on the test results.

Educator Recommendations Option:

Please note, while submitting educator recommendations instead of test scores does not hurt a student’s chances of admission, PTY strongly encourages students to submit test scores if available.

Students who do not submit test scores should request recommendations from two educators who know of the student’s ability in subject areas related to the mentorship(s) of interest. Students may request recommendation by sharing the link below. When recommenders complete the form, the completed form will be emailed to PTY. Students should not request that recommenders write a letter or submit a recommendation in any method other than the following form. The form takes 10-15 minutes to complete. 

A student’s application will not be complete, even though it may be marked as 100% in our application portal, until PTY receives two educator recommendations. We encourage students to ask recommenders to submit their recommendation prior to the 48-hour priority application window to ensure that the application is complete at the end of the window.

Can I request educators submit recommendations before a program application opens?

Educator recommendations can be submitted at any time. Before requesting educators complete the recommendation form, please create a SchoolDoc account (free) by visiting As your educators submit recommendation forms, they will be internally associated with your account.

If I submitted educator recommendations for a previous PTY program application, do I need submit new recommendations for future PTY program applications?

You are not required to submit new recommendations if PTY has recommendations on file from the previous school year. We ask that you submit new recommendations if your previous submission is older than the previous school year. If we have current recommendations on file, you are welcome to request additional recommendations from educators who may be able to provide more recent assessments of your academic performance. Our admissions team may reach out to request additional recommendations depending on the content area of your top-ranked course or the date of your previous recommendations.

2. 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.

Transcripts can be submitted as a picture or screenshot of a student’s unofficial record but must include the student’s name and show grades for the 2022-2023 school year.

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 $550 per student. Tuition costs cover the online meetings and access to the mentor during the program. 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

Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth 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 when placing students in courses.

If you plan to apply for financial assistance, please indicate this on your application. Once indicated, you will be automatically asked to complete the financial assistance application as part of your program application. Please note, your program application is not considered complete if you indicate that you are applying for financial aid and you do not upload the required documentation or provide the required information. Please plan accordingly.

All financial aid applications must include a signed copy of your most recent federal income tax return.  If you are divorced, only the custodial parent tax forms are required. During the application, families are required to upload one of the following forms: Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ.

If you believe your 1040/1040A/1040EZ does not provide an accurate or complete picture of your family’s financial need, you may include additional tax forms, including: W-2 Forms, Form 4562, Schedule A, Schedule C and/or F, Schedule D.

We ask that you remove all SSNs from any documents you upload in your application.

For PTY to provide program opportunities for as many students with financial need as possible, financial assistance awards for individual students will be limited to two courses per season. PTY has two operational seasons: academic year and summer.

Please note: If your financial situation significantly changes after being placed in a course for a program, but before the tuition deadline for the program, you may contact the PTY office ( in writing to request the possibility of submitting a late financial aid application. Requests are considered on a case-by-case basis when there are significant and unpredictable life events that drastically change a family’s ability to pay tuition.

PTY is unable to offer financial assistance to international students at this time.

Payment plans are not available for fall and spring programs.

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

Courses for the Rising Experts: Mini Mentor Immersion Fall 2024 program will be released on June 4, 2024. Please visit the Apply to a PTY Program webpage for a link to the Fall 2024 application starting August 27.

The Rising Experts: Mini Mentor Immersion Fall 2024 program accepts applications beginning August 27. There is a 48-priority window. Starting August 30, complete applications (received by midnight on September 1) will be randomized and reviewed for fit and placement. All applications received between August 27 and midnight on August 29 will be randomized and evaluated based on this randomization 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 since there may be more applications for a particular mentorship than spots received during the priority application window. Applications received by midnight on August 29 will receive notification of decisions by September 17.

You 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 the close of the priority window, 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. A student’s position on the waiting list for applications received after mentorships are full will be based on eligibility and the date/time the application was submitted.

We encourage students applying after initial priority window for the session to visit the mentorship 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 the end of the initial priority window of the session to be considered in our first round of admissions during the priority window.

Admissions Notification

Students will be notified of admissions decisions by September 17 if they applied on or before the close of the priority window. Students applying after the session’s initial priority application window will receive information about their admission status on a rolling basis. Please refer to the timeline above.

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 or the close of the session’s application priority window 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 is based on their application. Eligible students who apply after the session’s application priority window will be placed on the waiting list behind those who applied before or the close of the session’s priority application period. Placement on the waiting list for these students will be based on the date/time of application receipt.

Students will be moved off the waiting list if a spot opens. If a student is placed in a lower ranked mentorship, but a spot opens in a higher ranked mentorship, your enrollment will be updated if a spot opens. 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 2022-2023 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.