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Frequently Asked Questions

Questions from Students

Questions from Parents

From Students

Why do I take only one class? We believe that students need opportunities to immerse themselves in a content area of interest, in order to develop expertise; therefore, each VSA course is designed to be an accelerated, in-depth look at its respective content area.

How should I select my class? We recommend that you choose your class based on what interests you. We encourage you to rank at least three or four classes, but be sure that any course you rank on your application is something you’d be willing to take and pay for. Once you are placed in a class you ranked, your deposit will be non-refundable. Apply early to have the best chance for placement in your first choice!

Will I receive a grade or credit for my class? No, VSA does not give grades or award credit. We want you to stretch your intellectual capacity without fear of failure. Your instructor will evaluate your progress, and you will receive a course evaluation report from your instructor after VSA. The report will detail your progress on a variety of factors and aims to give you a broad picture of your academic growth in the course.

Where will I live? Residence Halls on The Ingram Commons at Vanderbilt were opened in 2008. They have many fine amenities and a prime campus location. All Commons dorms are fully air-conditioned and have comfortable rooms and resident lounges on each floor.

Will I have a roommate? Yes. Nearly all residential rooms on this part of campus are double rooms. Two students (same gender) will be assigned to each room.

May I choose my own roommate? To enhance the community experience, VSA typically assigns roommates through a randomized process. If you have a specific concern regarding the roommate assignment process, please contact the VSA office.

What are proctors and what do they do? Proctors are residential counselors. They are specially trained undergraduate and graduate students who live in the residence hall with VSA students and will organize the residential recreational and social activities with support from VSA’s head of student life. Each student will be assigned to a proctor group. Your proctor will check in on you on a regular basis and help you make the best of your VSA experience.

May I bring a car to campus? No. VSA is an intense summer experience, and student safety is always a priority. Students will neither have the time nor need to leave campus in a personal vehicle.

How much freedom will I have to go off campus and do my own thing? The VSA daily schedule and level of supervision is comprehensive. We follow Vanderbilt University’s policies regarding the presence of minors on campus, and student safety is prioritized above all else. While we understand that students are responsible individuals, VSA requires free time and recreational activities to be fully supervised and every student to be accounted for at all times. We want you to have a wonderful time while you’re with us on campus, and we encourage new friendships and community building at every turn.

May I bring a cell phone, iPad, or other electronic device? Yes. However, we do have restrictions on the use of these devices, which we will ask you to follow. The policy for use of electronics will be outlined in your student handbook.

Do I need a computer? Some students do find that a computer is beneficial  but it is not required. Students will have access to three computer labs, which will be accessible at certain hours of each weekday.

What should I wear? VSA is an academic environment that requires a casual but appropriate dress code. We ask that students use good judgment in packing for the session. Clothing with offensive language, symbols or designs is unacceptable. Revealing clothing is also unacceptable. Nashville is hot outside in the summer, but inside is often cool with ample air conditioning. Be comfortable and bring layers!

Will I do my own laundry? Yes. Students attending Sessions II or III will do their own laundry. Laundry facilities are available in the residence hall. Don’t forget to pack extra quarters, a laundry bag or hamper, laundry detergent, fabric softener, etc. If you’ve never done laundry, you might want to ask your family for a crash course before you arrive at VSA!

Do you accept international applicants? Yes! Many international students have joined us for past sessions of VSA from countries all over the world, including China, Turkey, Switzerland, France, Nicaragua, and Ghana, to name a few.

Are there any additional application requirements for international applicants? For international applicants who speak a native language other than English, TOEFL or IELTS scores should be submitted with your application. While TOEFL or IELTS scores are strongly preferred, students without them may submit an English-language portfolio which should include a short description of your past English language studies or speaking experience and a letter of recommendation from an English teacher. TOEFL/IELTS scores or the portfolio should be submitted in addition to regular qualifying documentation (ACT/SAT/PSAT scores or a portfolio). We may also request a phone or Skype interview at the discretion of the VSA admissions team. Please note as well that any supporting original documents not in English that are submitted with your application must be accompanied by a certified translation. 

Can international applicants apply for financial aid? Yes. International applicants should fill out the financial aid application and attach official documents with proof of the student’s household’s annual income from the previous year. Supporting documents not in English must include a certified translation. Financial aid supporting documents should also be expressed in US dollars, or conversion information should be attached.

From Parents

What is the “application priority window”? How does it affect my student’s application? All applications received during the application priority window (see our timeline) will be placed in a priority pool regardless of the particular date submitted. This means that any complete and qualifying application submitted during the application window has the same chance for placement. At the close of this window, all applications received will be randomly assigned a number determining their placement in the review queue. Applications received after the application window will be time and date stamped upon arrival and reviewed in order of receipt. What does this mean to your student? Because our courses fill so quickly, we highly recommend that you submit your student’s application during our application window for the best chance at placement in his or her top ranked course.

When are applications due? While most classes fill within the application priority window (see our timeline), we will continue to accept applications throughout the spring until all classes are filled.

Why does VSA use ACT/SAT/PSAT scores to determine eligibility? VSA specifically designs courses for academically gifted and advanced learners. Our instructors teach their courses at an accelerated pace and at a level of depth which research suggests works particularly well with academically gifted students. We use ACT/ SAT/PSAT scores as one reliable measure in determining a student’s ability to succeed at this accelerated and in-depth pace.

If my child doesn’t have ACT/SAT/PSAT scores or if I feel his/her scores are not the best indicator of his/her academic ability, is there an alternative qualifying method? Yes. In addition to ACT/SAT/PSAT scores, we also offer a portfolio option. Please be sure to read about the materials required in the portfolio section of How To Apply. There is no admission advantage to either qualifying method.

I have a rising 7th grade student, and while we’re interested in VSA, we’re hesitant to have her take part in a residential program just yet. Does PTY offer any day program options for her grade? Yes! Programs for Talented Youth also offers Summer Academy at Vanderbilt for the Young (SAVY), an academically advanced day program for students in rising grades 1-7. For rising 7th grade students in particular, SAVY is launching a new immersive program in July called Career Connections, which will allow students to experience how expert knowledge and skills are applied in different fields, industries, and/or research. Rising 7th grade students may choose to attend Career Connections, VSA or both! Students interested in attending both programs will need to complete two separate applications. PTY encourages students to apply during each program’s priority window to increase the likelihood of being admitted to a top-choice course. More information on Career Connections and the SAVY application timeline can be found at

What is your cancellation policy? The $40 application fee is nonrefundable for all applicants. Once the student is admitted and placed in a ranked course choice, a nonrefundable 10% tuition deposit will be due and is required to hold the spot for the admitted student. If no tuition deposit is paid within the communicated timeframe, the student forfeits his/her space in that course. A student who has not been placed in a course and remains on one or more waiting lists may withdraw at any time. A student who withdraws from the program after submitting the 10% tuition deposit, will receive a tuition refund for any amount paid above the deposit amount if VSA is notified before April 12, 2019 for Session II & III or May 3, 2019 for Session I. Sessions II & III students who withdraw between April 12, 2019 and May 10, 2019 may be eligible for a 50% refund (less the deposit and application fee). Session I students who withdraw between May 3, 2019 and May 10, 2019 for Session I may be eligible for a 50% refund (less the deposit and application fee). After May 10, 2019, requests for refunds of any kind will not be granted.

Could you tell me more about the deposit? The 10% tuition deposit is nonrefundable and paid after the student has been notified of their course placement. If a student is admitted to course that is not his or her first choice, paying the deposit does not remove the student from other waiting list positions. The deposit does secure the student’s placement in a ranked course and therefore, in the program as a whole. Should a spot open up in a higher ranked course, the next student on the waiting list moves into that course. Due to long waiting lists, the deposit is necessary to secure the student’s placement and reduce last minute withdrawals. Therefore, we highly recommend that students only rank courses they are willing to take and pay for. Of course, once paid, the deposit is applied to the student’s overall tuition balance.

Will attending VSA help my student get into Vanderbilt University? No. However, attending VSA will provide an inside look at Vanderbilt and opportunities to learn more about the typical college admissions process than you typically would get from a regular admissions visit.

Will I get to meet my student’s instructor? Yes, if you wish. Optional parent/teacher conferences or classroom open houses will be available to parents and guardians on check- out days.

Who will supervise VSA students in the residence hall? The VSA residential staff consists of a four-person residential leadership team, including the VSA program director, and three full-time residential supervisors, all who reside in the residence hall for the duration of the program. Additionally, three program office staff members live in-house, as do 15-18 residential counselors (VSA proctors) who live on the residential floors near their students.

May I visit my student during VSA? Due to a rather packed student schedule, we respectfully request that families remain off campus while VSA is in session. However, during sessions that include weekends, families may sign their students out on Sunday mornings. See your student’s welcome packet for details.

Are all meals included? Yes.

Can VSA accommodate dietary restrictions? Yes, in most cases, with adequate prior notice.

Are medical services available? In the event that students need medical attention, a staff member will accompany them to a nearby medical facility. The staff member will stay with the student until the situation is resolved. The Vanderbilt Summer Academy office will contact parents and/or guardians and will keep them informed of the situation. VSA also has established procedures for the handling of routine medications. Details will be provided upon admission to the program.

Should I send any spending money with my student? We recommend about $40-50 per week for incidentals and occasional optional outings for an ice cream cone or souvenirs from the VU bookstore.

How does VSA determine financial aid eligibility/awards? Eligibility for financial aid and the financial aid award amount are determined based on financial need. Families must submit their most recent federal tax return, the completed financial aid application, and any other documents that might prove helpful in order to demonstrate need. We will contact you shortly thereafter with the award amount. All admissions decisions for VSA are need-blind. No commitment to the program is required until you receive your financial aid decision and subsequent tuition balance.

I am applying for financial aid. Should I send the financial aid application along with my student’s application for admission? When applying for admission to VSA, be sure to indicate, when prompted, that you will be applying for financial aid. You will complete the admissions application and submit it (online) or mail it (paper application) along with the $40 application fee. You can fill out the financial aid application and mail/email/fax it along with any relevant documents to our office.
Mailing Address:
Vanderbilt PTY Peabody #506
230 Appleton Place
Nashville, TN 37203-5721

Email: Programs for Talented Youth
Fax: (615) 322-3457

Will I have to pay a tuition deposit before I know my award amount? As a financial aid applicant, no tuition deposit is due until the assistance amount has been communicated. We are happy to work with our families when receive financial assistance regarding a time-frame receipt of the 10% tuition deposit.

Does VSA award full scholarships? No. All financial aid awards are partial.