Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.)

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

forensic science student examining a sample in microscope

Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.)

The Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program is a unique opportunity for high school students to dive deep into the world of science before they even step foot into college. It’s designed to spark curiosity and passion for scientific discovery among young minds through hands-on experiments, engaging workshops, and mentorship from experts in various scientific fields. This program not only provides a solid foundation in science education but also opens doors to future career paths in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) fields.

Understanding science and its wonders from an early age is crucial. It helps students make informed decisions about their future studies and careers. In this blog post, we will explore what the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program is all about, where and when it takes place, and why it’s an opportunity you shouldn’t miss. We’ll also guide you through the application process, discuss the program’s selectivity, and provide additional advice to prepare you for this exciting scientific journey.

What is the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program?

The Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program, or BUGS Jr., is a special summer program for high school students interested in science. It’s all about helping young students learn how to work across different areas of science, build connections with professionals, and get involved in important research projects. The main goal is to prepare students for future challenges in understanding human health and the human body by giving them a chance to do real scientific research.

This program started as part of a bigger initiative alongside the Bridge Undergraduate Science Program (BUGS) at the University of Southern California (USC). Both programs happen during the summer, but BUGS Jr. is specially designed for high schoolers. In BUGS Jr., students get to work closely with USC professors and their research teams, which include graduate students and others, in top-notch labs. This hands-on experience is invaluable for students interested in science and research.

teacher explaining to students a cell model

Throughout the summer, participants in the BUGS Jr. Program enjoy various activities. They can tour the USC campus, join clubs that discuss scientific journals, and attend career symposiums and technical panels. There are also plenty of chances to build a community with peers through research seminars and social events that mix different scientific fields.

A really cool part of BUGS Jr. is that students can also work with peers from the USC School of Cinematic Arts, showing how science can connect with other disciplines. The program ends with a big event in early August where students present their summer research projects in a poster session to their mentors, other students, and even their families. This is a chance for them to show off what they’ve learned and done, making it a highlight of their summer research experience.

Where is the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program Being Held?

The Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program, also known as BUGS Jr., takes place at the University of Southern California (USC). This means students get to spend their summer in one of the most vibrant and dynamic university campuses in the country. USC is well-known for its advanced research facilities, and participants of the BUGS Jr. Program will spend a lot of their time in these state-of-the-art labs. These labs are where students get to do their hands-on research, working alongside experienced scientists.

But it’s not all lab work. The program also makes use of classrooms for discussions, seminars, and other learning activities. And because learning can happen anywhere, there are also outdoor activities that take advantage of the beautiful USC campus. These different settings help make learning more interesting and varied for students.

Getting to USC is pretty straightforward. The campus is located in Los Angeles, which is easily accessible by public transportation, including buses and trains. For students living nearby or those who can get a ride, there are also parking options available. This makes it convenient for students from different areas to join the program and enjoy everything it has to offer.

When Does the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program Take Place?

The Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.) starts on Monday, June 17, 2024, and wraps up with a big event, the Finale Symposium, from Thursday, August 1 to Saturday, August 3, 2024. This means the program runs through most of the summer, giving students plenty of time to dive deep into their science projects. The whole thing happens at the University of Southern California (USC) and some other places connected to USC. While most of the program is done in person, there’s a bit of flexibility, allowing for some activities to be done online.

Every day, students will follow a schedule that’s packed with research in labs, learning sessions in classrooms, and even some special events outside. The program is designed to fill their days with science from morning until the afternoon. On top of the regular schedule, there are special events like guest speaker sessions where experts come to talk about their work and experiences in science. This is a chance for students to learn from real scientists and ask questions.

The big highlight is the Finale Symposium in early August. Over these three days, students get to show what they’ve been working on all summer. They present their projects to other students, teachers, and even their families. It’s a great way to finish the program, celebrating everything they’ve learned and done.

Why Should You Join the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program?

Joining the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.) is a fantastic idea for any high school student interested in science. There are many reasons why this program is beneficial, starting with the hands-on experience you get. Instead of just reading about science or watching experiments from afar, you’ll be right in the middle of the action, doing experiments yourself in some of the best labs at the University of Southern California (USC). This real-world experience is something you can’t get in a regular classroom and it makes learning much more exciting and meaningful.

Another big benefit is the mentorship from experts in various scientific fields. You’ll work closely with USC faculty members, graduate students, and other researchers who can teach you a lot and give you advice about science and careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). These mentors can help guide you as you think about your future, whether it’s choosing a college major or figuring out what kind of scientist you want to be.

The program also lets you explore different areas of science. Whether you’re interested in biology, chemistry, physics, or something else, you’ll get a taste of various fields. This can help you discover what you’re most passionate about and could influence what you decide to study in college.

A student on a classroom. STEM

Speaking of college, participating in the BUGS Jr. Program can also make your college applications stand out. Colleges are always looking for students who have gone above and beyond in their high school years, and this program is a great way to show that. It tells colleges that you’re serious about science, that you’ve already got some experience with real research, and that you’re ready to take on the challenges of a STEM major.

Finally, the skills and experiences you gain from the BUGS Jr. Program can open up career opportunities in STEM fields. The world needs more scientists, engineers, and tech experts, and this program can help set you on the path to becoming one of those much-needed professionals. By starting early, you’re giving yourself a head start in understanding complex scientific concepts and solving real-world problems.

In short, joining the BUGS Jr. Program is a great way to learn more about science, meet people who share your interests, and prepare for a future in STEM. It’s an opportunity that can shape your education and career in exciting ways.

How to Join the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program

Joining the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.) is a great step for any high school student interested in science. Here’s how you can apply, step by step:

  1. Check if You’re Eligible: First, make sure you fit the eligibility requirements. If you’re currently in high school or will be starting high school in the upcoming school year, you’re eligible. This includes students who will graduate high school in Spring 2024. There’s no need to worry about your citizenship status, as there are no requirements for that. Also, you don’t need to have a specific GPA to apply, making the program accessible to a wide range of students.
  2. Application Opening Date: Mark your calendar for Monday, February 26, 2024. That’s when the application portal opens. You’ll be applying through a system called Qualtrics.
  3. Prepare Your Application: Before you start filling out the application, look at the preview of the questions provided on the application form. This will help you gather all the necessary information and materials to answer the questions thoroughly.
  4. Fill Out the Application: Go to the Qualtrics link provided by the program to submit your application. Be honest and detailed in your responses. Focus on sharing your passion for science and why you’re interested in the program.
  5. Required Documents: While the specific required documents aren’t listed here, you should be prepared to provide basic information about yourself, your school, and possibly a statement of interest or letters of recommendation. Check the application preview for any documents you might need to gather.
  6. Application Tips: Since there’s no GPA requirement, your application essays or statements are crucial. Use them to show your enthusiasm for science and how you think the program will benefit you. Be clear about your interests in science and any experiences you have in the field, even if they’re just personal projects or hobbies.
  7. Program Cost and Stipend: Remember, the program is free to attend, and if you successfully complete the summer research course, you’ll receive a stipend of $800. This is a great incentive and helps make the program accessible to everyone.

By following these steps and putting thought into your application, you’ll be well on your way to possibly joining the BUGS Jr. Program.

When is the Deadline to Apply for the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program?

The deadline to apply for the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.) is Sunday, April 21, 2024. Make sure you submit your application through Qualtrics by this date. After you apply, you and your parent or guardian will get an email confirming your application has been received. If you need to make any changes to your application, don’t submit a new one. Instead, email the changes to [email protected].

student laptop

After the application deadline, the selection process begins. From Wednesday, May 1, 2024, to Monday, May 20, 2024, students who are provisionally accepted into the program will be notified by email. Being provisionally accepted means you still have a few more steps to complete:

  1. You must finish the USC General Laboratory Safety Training Course.
  2. You need to return the completed BUGS Jr Student Contract Forms. If you’re under 18, your parent or guardian must sign these, too.
  3. You have to complete the health and registration requirements through CampDoc. Again, if you’re under 18, a parent or guardian will need to handle this.

Following these steps will secure your spot in the program, so keep an eye on your email and make sure to complete everything on time.

How Hard is it to Get Into the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program?

Getting into the Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.) can be challenging because many high school students want to join. Since there’s no GPA requirement, the program looks at other things to decide who gets in. They’re interested in students who are really passionate about science and eager to learn more through hands-on research. The selection process is competitive because only a limited number of students can be accepted each year.

To stand out in your application, here are some tips:

  • Show Your Passion: Use your application essays to talk about why you love science. Share any science projects, experiments, or clubs you’ve been involved in. It’s your chance to show how excited you are about the subject.
  • Be Clear About Your Goals: Explain how the BUGS Jr. Program fits into your future plans. Do you want to solve a specific scientific problem? Or maybe you’re interested in a certain science career? Letting them know why the program is important to you can help your application stand out.
  • Get Good Recommendations: If you need letters of recommendation, choose people who know you well and can speak about your interest in science. This could be a science teacher, club advisor, or someone you’ve worked with on a science project.
  • Check Your Application: Make sure your application is complete and free of mistakes. Ask someone else to read it over to catch any errors you might have missed.

Remember, the program wants students who are not only interested in science but also ready to learn and work hard. Showing that you’re one of those students can help you get a spot in the program.

Final Thoughts

The Bridge Undergraduate Science Jr. Program (BUGS Jr.) is a fantastic chance for high school students to get a head start in science. It offers hands-on research experience, mentorship from experts, and a peek into different scientific fields. This program can help shape your future in science, whether for college or a career in STEM.

If you’re excited about exploring the wonders of science, don’t miss this opportunity. We encourage you to apply and take the first step towards your scientific journey. For more details or if you have questions, please visit the program’s website or reach out to the admissions office. They’re ready to help you with everything you need to know about joining the BUGS Jr. Program.


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