Clark Scholars Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Michigan State University High School Honors Science, Math, and Engineering Summer Programs (HSHSP)

Clark Scholars Program

The Clark Scholars Program is one of the most prestigious summer programs for high schoolers to attend and those who get accepted make sure that it’s well worth their time. Taking place at the Texas Technological College, students have the opportunity to get a taste of college life while they’re still in high school and what better way is there to prepare for college than to spend it at college during your high school summers!

five college student walking side by side in a college town's side walk wearing winter outfits

This program seeks to attract gifted students from all around the country and those get accepted to have the opportunity to spend 7 weeks of their summer in an extensive research setting accompanied by the extraordinary staff and faculty of the Texas Tech. This hands-on summer program aims to give students the inspiration and drive they need to develop their critical thinking skills and career interests, while also making memories with like-minded students along the way.

Is This the Summer Program for You?

While the Clark Scholars Program does take place at Texas Tech this summer camp is not limited to only technology-related research endeavours, but rather anything that your heart desires. From natural sciences and mathematics to the humanities and fine arts, the Clark Scholars Program is designed to encourage students to extensively research whatever they so choose. Texas Tech offers 12 different University Colleges and Schools that the students will have the opportunity to pursue their research with and those schools can be viewed here alongside an extensive list of sample areas of research.

student doctors sitting around a table while one of them is looking at the camera smiling

This program caters to pre-college students and the admission process is awfully similar to applying to college. Although you don’t need to have taken the PSAT or SAT to be accepted into the Clark Scholars Program, these academic accomplishments are brought into consideration when applying to the program.

Students who attend the Clark Scholars Program are selected based on their academic accomplishments, career objectives and teacher recommendations, so students who are serious about their future are definitely encouraged to apply. According to the Clark Scholars official page, the average SAT of students who got accepted into the program was greater than 2276 for the program in 2011 – which is near a perfect score considering the SAT score was graded out of 2400 back then.

Although hundreds of students apply to the program each year only about 12 students get accepted each year, making it one of the most prestigious programs to attend in high school – with a roughly 3% acceptance rate. Students who attend this highly competitive program make sure that their 7 weeks spent at Texas Tech go to good use and a lot of students end up utilizing their research to help formulate their career objectives. This program is limited to rising juniors and seniors in high school and all participants must be at least 17 years of age.

Even though this program is one of the more difficult ones to get accepted to, that shouldn’t discourage you from applying. One of the best perks of this program is that it’s completely free! Yes, room and board are included and students also get a $750 stipend to spend on food and activities as well. The only cost that students are responsible for is their transportation to and from Texas Tech. This free program was made possible by a generous donation from the Anson L. Clark Foundation and has given over 250 students the opportunity to attend since it was founded in 1998.

In addition to the extensive research that takes place at the Clark Scholars Program which includes one-on-ones with Texas Tech faculty, as well as the opportunity for hands-on research experience, this program also has other perks that make this program an enjoyable experience outside of the research environment. Weekly seminars, meaningful discussions and field trips also take place at this program, which is all available to the students at no additional cost.

Will This Program Help Me Get into College?

If you apply to the Clark Scholars program, get accepted and choose to attend, the short answer is yes, this program will most definitely help out your chances of getting into college. While we know that college admissions officers are increasingly looking to student’s extracurricular involvement and academic competitions, the Clark Scholars Program looks great considering it’s highly competitive, takes place at a 4-year university and is focused on helping students develop their career objectives.

The 2018 Summer School Staff poses for a photo op.

As we know that the personal statement is the holy grail of college admissions, spending the summer extensively researching a subject that is likely directly related to your career objective gives you a leg up on your competition in this regard. Having done the research alongside the faculty at Texas Tech will most likely give you the knowledge and passion to write a very compelling personal statement essay to submit to college admissions officers.

While this program alone won’t guarantee acceptance into any college, students who get accepted to this program are likely already the top of their class in not only academics but also extracurriculars and teacher recommendations. With that being said, even the most prestigious college to get into having a higher acceptance rate than 3%, so getting accepted to the Clark Scholars Program is a great way to show your dedication to your area of study and dedication to attending a top university in the country.

How Do I get Accepted?

Now that we know that this program is completely free yet highly competitive, it’s still well worth your time to apply since this could be the program to push your college applications over the edge when it comes to applying to Ivy League schools and the like. In a recent article about getting accepted to the program, where the Dean of the Honors College is interviewed regarding the matter, he gives insider advice on how the program works and how students are chosen to attend.

Although the program doesn’t do any advertising and only promotes on their website and via word of mouth, there are still typically over 500 applicants per year and once again only 12 are accepted. Some of the major factors that the program considers when looking over applicants are:

  • Transcripts
  • SAT or ACT Scores
  • Extracurriculars
  • Teacher Recommendations
  • Volunteer Experience

The dean then makes the point, which is also a great tip for students when applying to college, that a student’s extracurriculars are considered on their quality as opposed to the quantity of them. As he makes appearances in the article we “like to see students who do one or two things exceptionally well, in addition to volunteering, instead of doing 500 things.

If you are going to do something, do it sincerely. Make it meaningful to both you and the community.” This is super important to remember as you choose which extracurriculars are best for you to pursue during high school, as the ones that are most meaningful to you and your community are held in higher regard.

The dean also makes it apparent that, although previous research experience is not required, students who have experience in a research extensive setting have a greater chance of getting in. This prior research experience demonstrates a student’s ability to thrive at the Clark Scholars Program, especially if their previous research experience is on the same subject that they are hoping to pursue a the Clark Scholars Program.

The gravity of teacher recommendations is also greatly taken into consideration and this program also makes sure that there is sincerity in the recommendations written by their teachers. This is also great preparation for when it comes to applying to colleges and the dean makes a great point that students who embody a ‘bigger picture’ mentality, not only in their extra-curricular but also in their teacher recommendations, have a greater chance of getting in.

Students who want to make a difference in not only their world but the world around them are more likely to be accepted, which is also something to keep in mind while applying to college.

The application also requires students to list their top 5 volunteer activities, which is something that will also help greatly with college applications as well. As the dean at Texas Tech mentions that volunteer experience is taken into consideration alongside a student’s extracurricular activities, this is super important to remember as you prepare your chances of getting accepted into this program and college. If your volunteer experience and extracurricular activities are associated with each other, then that can help make an even greater cause for your dedication to helping out the world in their area of study.

Where do Attendees End Up After the Program?

The Clark Scholars Program is specifically designed for the most gifted students and the majority of students who attend end up at Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, all of the top schools in the country. This program may or may not have been the deciding factor of whether they got into these schools or not, but at the very least it definitely helped them prepare for applying to these schools. In fact, in an article written by the office of admissions at MIT, the Clark Scholars Program is considered one of the top research programs for students to attend in high school.

They make note that these programs will not guarantee acceptance into MIT or any other school, however, they can be extremely valuable when it comes to personal development in high school, which is something that college admissions officers do take into consideration.

To make note that the “Clark Scholars Program” is a program that creates an atmosphere where extensive research takes place, students that pursue attending this program should be interested in being a scholar in whatever field they aspire to pursue.

One of the best perks of attending an Ivy League School is the fact that you are surrounded by leaders in their field who have often accomplished Nobel Prizes and other awards for their dedication and research. The Clark Scholars Program aims to recreate that setting for high school students at the Texas Tech each summer in hopes that the research done by the students at the program will give them a hefty head start in their field as well.

How do I apply?

The application for the Clark Scholars Program is typically due at the beginning of February each year, however, students are encouraged to start prepping their materials well before the due date. In addition to the criteria mentioned above regarding consideration to the program including transcripts, SAT/ ACT scores, teacher recommendations and volunteer experience, students also have to submit a personal essay as part of the application.

Each year there is a different prompt for students to respond to and the latest prompt can be viewed here for reference. More information about registering for the program and submitting an application can be viewed here.

Give it Your Best Shot

Although this is one of the most prestigious research programs that are available for High School students, if you are at the top of your class and think you have a shot at getting into an Ivy League School, then you should definitely give an application to this program your best shot. There really is no best time to start preparing for college, so if you’re reading this and you’re in your first or second year of high school, then starting to prep for this program will also help you get prepared for college admissions as well.

Group leader giving instructions to her members.

At AdmissionSight, we know that even with the top SAT and ACT scores in your class and a noteworthy GPA, there is so much more that goes into consideration when it comes to applying to college. Honing in your extracurriculars, volunteer experience and career objectives at an early age can help you focus in on what you want your major to be in college and can even give you a great taste of whatever field you want to pursue.

Even if you don’t get accepted into the Clark Scholars Program, preparing for it will greatly increase your chances of getting into college since the criteria are very similar and who knows, maybe you’ll even get the opportunity to be a part of the next 12 students that spend their summer at Texas Tech.


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