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Navigating Your Future: A Deep Dive into the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young marine biologist getting showing a specimen.

Navigating Your Future: A Deep Dive into the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole

Attention, high school students! Are you ready to go on an educational voyage that combines the thrill of exploration with the rigor of scientific inquiry? If you’re enthusiastic about the ocean, eager for adventure, and curious about a career in marine science, then the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole might just be the sign on your academic horizon. Let’s set sail through the crucial details of this unique program.

What is the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

Situated in the quaint village of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, the SEA (Sea Education Association) Summer High School Program stands as a bastion of maritime and scientific education. This program is a fully immersive experience that takes high school students on a journey through marine science, oceanography, and nautical science aboard a sailing research vessel.

Combining hands-on research with sailing adventure, the program empowers students to conduct scientific experiments, navigate by the stars, and live and work as part of a seafaring community. It’s an unmatched experiential learning opportunity where the rolling waves become both your classroom and playground.

Why should you attend the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

Diving into the SEA program is like unlocking a treasure chest of opportunity. You will:

  1. Gain a deep understanding of marine science and oceanography.
  2. Develop sailing and navigation skills aboard a traditional tall ship.
  3. Conduct real-world research, contributing to a growing database used by scientists worldwide.
  4. Build leadership and teamwork abilities in a dynamic environment.
  5. Explore potential college majors and career paths in marine-related fields.

Marine Biologists working at the beach coast

The SEA Summer High School Programs

SEA Expedition

Embark on a two-week nautical journey with SEA Expedition, an offshore summer adventure designed for rising high school sophomores, juniors, seniors, and fresh graduates. Set against the backdrop of the vibrant Cape Cod and New England waters, this program plunges participants into the heart of maritime life aboard the esteemed SSV Corwith Cramer.

SEA Expedition beckons young explorers to fully engage in a rigorous offshore sailing and oceanographic quest. The venture navigates the coastal and pelagic realms of Cape Cod Bay, the Stellwagon Bank National Marine Sanctuary, and the bountiful Gulf of Maine, extending to the biodiversity-rich George’s Bank.

Field-Based Research

SEA Expedition offers a dynamic platform for young scientists to delve into maritime research on the open sea. The program zeroes in on critical marine ecosystems around Cape Cod, serving as a live laboratory for observing whales, turtles, seabirds, and a myriad of marine species.

The data harvested by SEA Expedition participants are pivotal, feeding into a long-standing database that supports the annual surveillance of these aquatic sanctuaries for researchers and conservationists. From cataloging the diversity of life to documenting oceanographic parameters like temperature, salinity, and nutrients, students contribute meaningfully to the understanding and stewardship of these waters.

Discussions on maritime history and policy provide a human perspective to scientific exploration, instilling in students a profound appreciation of the ocean’s role in our global ecosystem and the urgency of its conservation.

Working on a laboratory.

Maritime Skill Development and Seamanship

At the core of SEA Expedition is the transformative challenge of operating a seafaring vessel as a coordinated crew. The sail training and seamanship experience are essential pillars of the program.

Emphasizing the values of teamwork, leadership, and community, SEA Expedition propels you into active roles where you are entrusted with the vessel’s operations. Guided by the captain and licensed mates, participants sharpen their skills in navigation, sail handling, and leadership.

These at-sea lessons in communication and strategic thinking are invaluable, equipping students with the competencies needed for academic success, career development, and navigating life’s unpredictable seas.

Life At Sea

Guided by the seasoned scientists and mariners of SEA, you will dive into the captivating realm of maritime living.

The rhythm of life aboard the ship is a round-the-clock adventure, with expectations set for each student to contribute wholeheartedly. The dynamic world of shipboard duties unfolds under a structured watch system, where you report to a dedicated mate and assistant scientist responsible for their watch segment.

Medical Research Laboratory

Each six-hour watch is a bustling period of activity where the students’ group manages the sails, engages in laboratory work, conducts scientific samplings, and navigates the vessel, among other tasks.

In the interlude of your 12-hour respite from watch duties, you have the freedom to rejuvenate with sleep, enjoy nourishing meals, delve into reading, maintain a journal of your experiences, or scan the horizon for majestic ocean wildlife.

The summer seascape of New England is a theatre for nature’s spectacles, offering chances to witness the awe-inspiring ballet of humpback and fin whales, the playful dances of dolphins, or the stealthy glide of sharks.

No previous mastery of the sails is required—only an eagerness to learn and immerse in the seafaring lifestyle is needed to join this transformative oceanic journey.

View of a sailing boat.

SEASCape: Ocean Studies on the Cape

SEASCape: Ocean Studies on the Cape beckons high schoolers for an immersive two-and-a-half-week sojourn at the SEA, nestled in the picturesque locale of Cape Cod. This exceptional program grants eager minds the chance to delve into the oceanic realms both through the lens of science and through the narratives of history and society.

Split into the foundational segments of “Introduction to Oceanography” and “Oceans and Society,” SEASCape invites you to unearth the storied past of the region as a hub for worldwide maritime trade, prolific fisheries, venerable shipbuilding, and naval exploits.

The journey includes weekday lectures, spirited discussions, laboratory exploration, field excursions, and collaborative projects.

Academic Coursework 

For the SEASCape: Ocean Studies on the Cape program, you will be discussing these topics: Introduction to Oceanography and Oceans and Society.

1. Introduction to Oceanography

This invites you into the captivating world beneath the waves. This program is about getting hands-on with marine life and unraveling the secrets of ocean geology and sediments, navigating the complexities of ocean currents, and dissecting the chemical makeup of seawater. This course plunges into the coastal marine environment, turning salt marshes and sandy shores into natural classrooms.

As budding marine scientists, you venture into these environments to gather a wealth of biological, geological, and physical specimens. But their work doesn’t stop at collection. Back in the laboratory, you will analyze their findings, transforming raw data into a tapestry of understanding through rigorous scientific methods.

The culmination of your hard work is seen in the group projects they prepare and present, each telling a story of discovery and insight.

Being part of SEA means immersing oneself in a rich tradition of marine research. Students are afforded rare opportunities to engage with prestigious local research institutions like the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Marine Biological Laboratory, U.S. Geological Survey, and National Marine Fisheries.

A student holding a model of the earth

2. Oceans and Society

Oceans & Society offers a deep dive into the multifaceted relationship humanity shares with the vast oceans. This program encourages students to navigate through time, exploring the rich tapestry of historical, political, cultural, and economic ties that bind us to the marine world.

It equips students with the insights and tools used by seafarers, charting the evolution of maritime science and technology born from the necessity of ocean exploration and molded by seafaring experiences.

Cape Cod, a region steeped in maritime heritage, stands as a living classroom where these connections come into sharp focus. It’s a place where the pressing debates of the day – from fisheries management to the harnessing of ocean energy to the challenges of coastal development – are as palpable as the salty sea breeze.

a marine biologist diving deep in the ocean examining a wall of corals

To bring current ocean-related issues into clearer view, you will embark on field trips to maritime museums and hubs of local fishing industries. You will engage in dialogue with those shaping ocean policy and converse with professional mariners, gaining insights from those who navigate these waters both literally and figuratively.

As you investigate the area’s rich maritime culture, you will understand how our societies are irrevocably tied to and influenced by the seas that surround us. It’s a journey to understand how the pulse of the ocean beats in rhythm with our own.

Oceanography in Woods Hole: A Pre-College Experience for High School Students

Guided by SEA’s seasoned scientists with Ph.D. credentials, the SEA’s Pre-College: Ocean Sciences seminar doesn’t just scratch the surface but plunges participants into the depths of advanced oceanographic research.

As you navigate through this program, you will enrich your grasp of pivotal environmental concerns and delve into marine-centric topics such as coastal ecology, strategies for climate change mitigation, the intricate dance between the ocean and climate, and the wonders of marine biology.

View of a woman using a microscope.

Academic Coursework

The journey is a holistic exploration of how the ocean’s characteristics and processes—from the topography of the ocean floor to the chemistry of seawater and the diversity of life within—contribute to global patterns on various scales. Climate solutions, marine conservation, biodiversity, and the intricacies of coastal ecosystems are just a few of the pressing environmental dialogues students will dive into.

Boasting over 40 hours of scholarly instruction, this program sails beyond traditional lectures, incorporating hands-on lab work, dynamic group discussions, and collaborative research initiatives. It sharpens your prowess in research methodologies, science communication, critical analysis, and data interpretation, coupled with enhancing leadership abilities.

Excursions to globally recognized research centers, including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Lab, enrich the academic experience, offering a glimpse into the real-world application of classroom concepts.

a group of athlete putting their hands together

Campus Life at SEA

Academic pursuits anchor at the SEA’s Madden Center until the late afternoon on weekdays, but students should anticipate a significant portion of their learning in the open air, whether that’s participating in fieldwork or engaging with a local scientific hub.

Afternoons are a time for relaxation and camaraderie in the student cottages before evening meals and activities commence. Each SEA cottage, overseen by a dedicated Program Assistant, accommodates up to a dozen students, providing cozy living spaces complete with two bathrooms, a communal area, and a kitchen. Community dining in SEA’s shared dining room adds to the day’s shared experiences.

Evenings and weekends are interspersed with structured study sessions, creative movie nights, artistic endeavors, and team-building pursuits, all under the guiding hand of the Program Assistants and the watchful eye of the Program Director. Recreational times may include spirited volleyball matches, tranquil bike rides along the scenic “Shining Sea Bike Path,” refreshing swims at local beaches, or simply a quiet moment to reflect and rest—ensuring that your time at SEASCape is as enriching as it is enjoyable.

an aerial view of a circular table filled with students studying

Sea Quest SEA Quest 2024: Critters, Coral, and Conservation

Dive into the digital depths of oceanography this summer without leaving home! High school students globally can join SEA Quest 2024, an enriching online journey into marine sciences, offering a window into ocean conservation and collegiate preparation.

This virtual seminar takes you on a scientific adventure focusing on coral reefs, climate change, and conservation efforts. Using the Phoenix Islands Protected Area as a living classroom, you will analyze reef health, the effects of climate change on these vital ecosystems, and how ocean currents and maritime activities influence marine habitats.

Expect to become a part of a community that’s not just learning but actively contributing to marine science through projects and discussions that span marine policy and nautical science. Plus, SEA will kit you out with all the seminar materials you need, delivered right to your doorstep.

Your commitment to the program, marked by a certificate of completion and a personal letter detailing your accomplishments, will be a beacon for college applications. And beyond the seminar, the SEA faculty remains your navigational aid for college or internship references.

In SEA Quest, you’ll virtually sail alongside SEA’s scientific missions, contributing to a legacy of marine research. You’ll return with not only new knowledge but also a deeper appreciation for the ocean’s critical role on our planet. Expect to devote an additional 10 hours outside the interactive sessions for a fully immersive experience.

Top view of an unrecognizable marine biologist writing data on a paper on a boat

How to get into the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

SEA is calling all inquisitive high schoolers, up to and including those donning their graduation caps this year! If you have navigated through at least one high school science and math course and harbor a curiosity about our oceans and the environment, they are looking for you.

Whether you’re a seasoned upperclassman or an eager incoming freshman, SEA is ready to chart a course with you toward discovery and insight into the vast blue.

The application process is crafted to spot the spark of interest, the drive for knowledge, and your personal aspirations for joining the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole.

With an intimate setting of 20-25 students per program, spaces are as coveted as a calm sea. With the tides of interest, some programs may reach their capacity ahead of schedule. So, set sail early on your application voyage to secure your spot on this educational expedition with SEA.

How to apply to the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

Step into the SEA online application gateway. Here’s what you’ll need to launch your application ship:

  • Fill out the online application form that charts your academic course.
  • Present your official high school transcript as your scholarly compass.
  • Obtain one academic recommendation to act as your navigational star.
  • Reflect and respond to short answer essay questions to map out your intellectual territory.

Young woman using a laptop in a desk.

Charting Your Course Ahead

Engage with SEA Admissions

They are your co-navigators, ready to help you pinpoint your aspirations and sift through the program currents. They are also equipped to converse with your captains at home—parents and guardians.

Select your SEA Program

With guidance from your family, educators, and mentors, find the program that sails closest to your dreams—whether it’s anchored on land, riding the waves, or navigating the digital ocean.

Submit your completed online application. It’s your ticket to an extraordinary summer, where adventures await onshore, afloat, or in the virtual expanse of SEA.

High school students writing their college applications for the fall 2020

Financial Aid & Scholarship Opportunities

At SEA, they are committed to helping families make their high school programs accessible. The admission procedure does not consider an applicant’s financial situation, ensuring a fair chance of acceptance regardless of applying for aid.

During the admissions process, they engage with applicants to review expenses, explore aid availability, and discuss alternative financing solutions, including installment plans. They evaluate the financial needs of each applicant meticulously, using the submitted documentation as a basis.

To maximize consideration for SEA’s available financial resources, students should adhere to submitting their financial aid applications by the set priority deadline. Financial aid decisions are conveyed subsequent to the admissions verdicts.

Female student writing in her desk using a pen.

Guidelines for Applying for Financial Aid

For consideration for need-based financial assistance from SEA, applicants are required to submit the following through the SEA application platform:

  • The SEA High School Program Financial Aid Application Form
  • The most recent Federal Tax Return from the supporting parent or guardian

Financial Aid Application Priority Deadline: April 15.

Designated Scholarships

SEA Alumni Award: Any student who has previously participated in an SEA high school program is eligible for a $500 scholarship towards another SEA high school program.

Cape Cod & Islands Scholarship: This scholarship is available for permanent residents of Cape Cod and the Islands who exhibit a need for financial assistance.

Woods Hole Children’s School of Science Award: This award is extended to local students previously involved with the School of Science.

How hard is getting into the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

As with any prestigious program, admission to the SEA Summer High School Program is selective. The acceptance rate fluctuates yearly based on the number of applicants and available spots. However, don’t let this deter you. With a strong application that shines a light on your interest in marine science and your readiness for an adventure, you stand a fair chance of joining the ranks of SEA scholars.

Female student reading a likely letter.

When is the deadline to apply to the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

Here are the important deadline dates you need to remember:

  • Start of application process: starting from November 15.
  • Application Deadline 1: January 15
  • Application Deadline 2: March 1
  • Financial aid priority deadline: March 15

A quick tip: the early mariner catches the favorable winds, so don’t procrastinate on starting your application.

When do I find out about my application to the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

Upon the completion of your application, you will be interviewed by a member of the admissions team. Typically, the decision regarding your admission will be communicated within two weeks following your interview.

Female students looking out the window while thing

Where is the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

The SEA campus is anchored in Woods Hole, a hub of oceanographic research on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. This village is not only home to SEA but also to several world-renowned scientific institutions, creating a rich tapestry of research and discovery.

How long is the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole?

The length of the program can vary, but it usually spans several weeks, striking a balance between in-depth study and the demands of an intensive academic schedule.

When does the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole take place?

The program typically sets its course during the summer months, with the exact dates shifting slightly each year. It’s designed to fit snugly within the summer break, allowing students to embark on this educational journey without conflicting with the traditional school year.

Female student attending an online course.

Summer 2024 SEA Expedition Program Dates

Session 1: June 29 – July 10, Voyage: Roundtrip from Woods Hole, MA.

Session 2: July 14 – July 25, Voyage: Roundtrip from Woods Hole, MA.

Session 3: July 31 – August 11, Voyage: Roundtrip from Woods Hole, MA.

Session 4: August 15 – August 26, Voyage: Woods Hole, MA to Boston, MA.

SEASCape: Ocean Studies on the Cape Program Summer 2024 Itinerary

Session 1: June 24 – July 12 at the SEA campus in Woods Hole, MA.

Session 2: July 22 – August 9 at the SEA campus in Woods Hole, MA.

Group of students working on their desks.

Oceanography in Woods Hole Summer 2024 Exploration Itinerary

Session 1: June 24 – July 13, 2024

Session 2: July 22 – August 10, 2024

Both sessions anchor at the SEA campus in Woods Hole, MA.

Sea Quest SEA Quest 2024: Critters, Coral, and Conservation 

Virtual only.

Three students walking in the hallway.

For those high school students yearning to chart a course through the unexplored waters of ocean sciences, the SEA Summer High School Program at Woods Hole is your compass. It points towards a future where passion for the marine world and the pursuit of scientific excellence converge, offering a transformative experience that extends far beyond the summer months.

The knowledge gained, connections made, and memories forged here, beneath the sails of inquiry and atop the waves of discovery, will echo through the halls of future academic endeavors and ripple out into the wider world, where the ocean awaits its next stewards.

Looking for expert advice on navigating pre-college program applications? AdmissionSight is here to help. Our seasoned professionals have a proven track record in guiding students toward securing spots at prestigious universities worldwide. Take the first step on your educational journey – schedule your consultation with us today!

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