The Ancient Studies Institute

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Greek language carved in stone

The Ancient Studies Institute

As you navigate your high school years, the prospect of college and the choice of programs can seem both exciting and overwhelming. If you have an interest in history, particularly the ancient world, the Ancient Studies Institute at Washington University in St. Louis offers a unique opportunity to explore this passion. 

This blog aims to give you an in-depth look at what the Institute offers, from its curriculum and activities to the broader experience of being part of a residential program. You’ll learn about the key aspects of the program, including who can participate, the themes explored, the types of activities involved, and how this experience can enrich your college applications and future academic pursuits. 

Whether you’re a history buff or just curious about the ancient world, this program has something to offer that goes beyond traditional classroom learning.

What is the Ancient Studies Institute?

The Ancient Studies Institute offers you a unique opportunity to delve into the intriguing world of ancient civilizations, particularly focusing on the Roman Empire. This program, designed for high school juniors and seniors, allows you to engage deeply with the history, culture, and impact of one of the most significant ancient civilizations.

As a participant, you’ll explore various facets of Roman history, culture, and society. The Institute’s curriculum is structured to provide a comprehensive understanding of Roman life and its lasting influence on the modern world. You’ll study the social, political, and economic structures that defined Roman society, and examine how these elements have shaped contemporary cultures and institutions.

One of the key themes at the Institute is the concept of ‘villainy’ in ancient Rome. This theme is not just about exploring infamous characters from Roman history but also about understanding the broader social and political contexts that shaped these figures. By studying ‘villainy’, you’ll gain insights into the moral and ethical frameworks of ancient Rome, and how these frameworks compare to modern-day standards.

walkway lined with trees at both side at the Washington University in St. Louis

The program is not just about classroom learning; it involves a range of interactive and immersive activities. You’ll participate in discussions, group projects, and creative activities that will enhance your understanding of the course material. These activities are designed to be engaging and thought-provoking, ensuring that you gain a well-rounded perspective on ancient Roman civilization.

Another significant aspect of the Ancient Studies Institute is the focus on developing critical thinking and research skills. The program encourages you to question, analyze, and interpret historical evidence, skills that are essential for any academic pursuit. This emphasis on critical thinking not only aids in your understanding of ancient history but also prepares you for future academic and professional challenges.

Where Does the Program Take Place?

The Ancient Studies Institute program takes place at the picturesque Washington University in St. Louis campus, where you’ll be immersed in a vibrant academic environment. Nestled in the heart of St. Louis, the university campus offers a perfect blend of historical charm and modern facilities.

As a participant, you’ll experience life as a college student, residing in undergraduate dormitories and utilizing the university’s extensive resources. The campus setting not only provides an authentic college experience but also allows you to explore the cultural and historical richness of St. Louis. This setting serves as an inspiring backdrop for your exploration of ancient Roman culture and history.

Who Can Participate in the Program?

The program is specifically designed for high school juniors and seniors. This means you, as a student currently in these grades, are the ideal candidate. The Institute seeks individuals who have a keen interest in ancient history and cultures, particularly the Roman Empire. Your enthusiasm for learning about the past and its influence on the present is what makes you a perfect fit for this program.

Eligibility criteria for the High School Summer Institute include:

  • Being a current sophomore or junior in high school, set to graduate in either 2026 or 2025.
  • For international students, attaining a TOEFL iBT score of at least 90 or an IELTS Academic score of at least 6.5. Further guidelines for international students can be found here.
  • Fulfilling any specified prerequisites for the institute of application.

Prospective participants are sought to be mature, academically motivated individuals engaged in a challenging curriculum, which may incorporate honors, advanced placement, and International Baccalaureate courses if available at their high schools. Success in our program is often observed in students who exhibit collaborative, intellectually curious, and creative thinking traits.

The Ancient Studies Institute doesn’t require any specific prerequisites in terms of your previous study of history or classics. Whether you are someone who has always been fascinated by ancient civilizations or someone newly discovering this interest, the program is structured to cater to a diverse range of backgrounds and knowledge levels. The key is your eagerness to learn and engage with the material presented.

Furthermore, as a participant, you’re encouraged to bring your unique perspectives and insights to the program. Your participation in discussions and activities will not only enrich your own learning experience but also contribute to the learning of your peers. The collaborative environment at the Institute ensures that you learn not just from the instructors but also from each other.

Additionally, your participation in this program is an excellent opportunity to experience college life firsthand. As a residential program, you will stay on the campus of Washington University in St. Louis, providing you with a glimpse into what your future college experience could be like. It’s an excellent way for you to prepare for the transition from high school to college.

How Hard Is It to Get Into the Program?

Gaining admission to the Ancient Studies Institute at Washington University in St. Louis is competitive, reflecting the university’s overall selective admission process. While specific statistics for the Ancient Studies Institute aren’t publicly available, insights into Washington University’s general admissions landscape can give you a good idea of the competitiveness.

Washington University in St. Louis boasts a low acceptance rate, with the overall rate being around 16% for the class of 2024​​. This indicates a highly selective environment, although the actual rate for the Ancient Studies Institute might vary. The university employs a holistic admissions process, meaning they consider more than just your grades and test scores. Factors such as your extracurricular activities, personal essays, and letters of recommendation play a significant role in the decision-making process​​​​.

To improve your chances of getting accepted, it’s crucial to excel academically. The middle 50% of admitted students had SAT scores between 1480 and 1560 and ACT scores between 33 and 35, with an average high school GPA of 4.21​​.

Additionally, involvement in extracurricular activities, community service, and demonstrating a genuine interest in the program can strengthen your application. Washington University seeks well-rounded individuals who show promise not only in academics but also in their contributions to the community and personal character​​​​.

Remember, while the admissions process is competitive, each application is reviewed comprehensively, considering the unique qualities and experiences you bring. If the Ancient Studies Institute is your dream, focusing on building a strong, well-rounded profile aligned with the program’s values and objectives can increase your chances of success.

Law library on the campus of Washington University

What Should I Join the Program?

Let’s talk about the reasons why you should join the Ancient Studies Institute at Washington University in St. Louis. Here are some key points:

1. Learning Roman Culture and History: The Institute gives you a comprehensive understanding of Roman life, from daily routines to the complexities of their social structures and governments. By examining the ‘villainy’ theme, you explore various historical figures and events, gaining a deeper insight into Roman culture and its influence on the modern world. This holistic approach enriches your knowledge and appreciation of ancient civilizations.

2. Critical Thinking and Analytical Skills: The program is designed to enhance your critical thinking and research abilities. You’re not just memorizing facts; you’re analyzing, questioning, and interpreting historical data. This skill set is vital in academic pursuits and helps develop a more nuanced understanding of historical contexts.

3. Interactive and Creative Learning Experience: The Ancient Studies Institute provides an interactive learning environment. Through various activities, discussions, and creative projects, you engage with the material in a dynamic way. This method not only makes learning more enjoyable but also helps in retaining knowledge more effectively.

4. Exposure to College Life: As a residential program, the Institute offers a taste of college life, including the experience of living on campus. This aspect of the program can help ease the transition from high school to college by providing you with a sense of independence and an understanding of the college environment.

5. Building a Network: Participating in the program allows you to connect with peers who share similar interests. These relationships can become valuable networks in your academic and professional life.

6. Personal Growth: Beyond academic learning, the program contributes to your personal development. Living away from home and interacting with a diverse group of students helps build independence, adaptability, and social skills.

7. Preparation for Future Studies: The experience and knowledge gained at the Ancient Studies Institute can be a significant asset in your future academic endeavors. Whether it’s in the form of enhanced college applications or as a foundation for further studies in classics, history, or related fields, the program prepares you for the next steps in your academic journey.

How to Apply to the Ancient Studies Institute

To seek admission to the High School Summer Institute, prospective students need to finalize an online application, which encompasses short essays, along with the submission of additional required materials:

  • A nonrefundable application fee of $50.
  • Transcript.
  • Teacher recommendation.
  • International applicants must forward an official TOEFL iBT or IELTS Academic score report.

Applicants are required to complete this process by the application deadline, which is April 1, 2024, at 11:59 pm CT. It is essential to ensure that all requested supplemental information is submitted by the stipulated time for consideration.

Before you begin your application to the Ancient Studies Institute, it’s essential to thoroughly research the program. Visit the Institute’s website to understand the curriculum, the type of activities involved, and the overall objectives of the program.

Look into the program’s duration, the schedule, and any special events or projects that are part of it. This research will not only help you decide if the program aligns with your interests but will also provide valuable information you can reference in your application, especially in your personal statement. Pay attention to the details of the program’s focus on ancient Rome, the interactive learning approach, and the residential aspect.

Understanding these elements will enable you to clearly articulate why this program is a good fit for you. Additionally, researching beforehand will help you prepare any questions you might have, which you can address in your application or in subsequent communications with the program coordinators.

Gathering Recommendations

Recommendations play a significant role in your application. They provide an external perspective on your academic abilities, character, and suitability for the program. Choose recommenders who know you well and can speak to your strengths and potential. These could be teachers, counselors, or mentors who have observed your work ethic, academic interests, and personal qualities.

Inform your recommenders about the Ancient Studies Institute and what the program entails so they can tailor their recommendations to reflect why you’re a good fit. Give them ample time to write a thoughtful and detailed recommendation. A well-written recommendation can provide a significant boost to your application, offering insights into your capabilities and personality that aren’t apparent from grades and test scores alone.

Confirmation and Follow-Up

After submitting your application to the Ancient Studies Institute, ensure you receive a confirmation of receipt. This confirmation is important as it assures that your application has been successfully received and is under consideration. If you don’t receive a confirmation within a reasonable time frame, don’t hesitate to reach out to the program’s administration for verification.

Following up shows your keen interest in the program and your proactive approach. During the waiting period, stay informed about any additional steps or information that might be required. Check your email regularly for any communication from the Institute. If you’re called for an interview or any further participation, respond promptly and prepare adequately to showcase your enthusiasm and suitability for the program.

When Is the Deadline to Apply to the Ancient Studies Institute?

If you’re looking to apply to the Ancient Studies Institute at Washington University in St. Louis for the summer of 2024, you should mark April 1, 2024, 11:59 pm CT on your calendar. That’s the deadline for submitting your application. Remember, this is a firm deadline and it’s essential to get your application in by then to be considered for this unique and engaging program.

Following the application deadline, admission and scholarship decisions for the summer programs will be released by the end of the day on April 8, 2024. To ensure you don’t miss out on this opportunity, it’s a good idea to start preparing your application well in advance, giving yourself plenty of time to gather all necessary materials and thoughtfully complete your application​​.

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How Do I Find Out About My Application?

To find out about your application to the Ancient Studies Institute at Washington University in St. Louis, you’ll need to navigate the WashU Pathway, a system designed to manage and track applications. After submitting your application, you will receive login instructions for the WashU Pathway. This pathway serves as a central hub where you can check the status of each piece of your application and view important updates.

In the WashU Pathway, you’ll find a checklist showing the status of different components of your application, such as the school report, official transcript, teacher evaluation, and any additional materials you might have submitted. Additionally, this portal will provide instructions for optional submissions, like a 90-second video, and give you access to your financial assistance account, if applicable​​.

Admission decisions for the Ancient Studies Institute will also be posted in the WashU Pathway as soon as they are released. This platform is an essential tool for staying informed about your application’s progress and for receiving any updates or notifications regarding your application status. Remember to check the pathway regularly and ensure that all required materials have been submitted properly to avoid any delays in the processing of your application​​​​.

Why Study Ancient Rome in the Modern World?

Studying ancient Rome provides a unique lens to understand the foundations of modern society. As a student, you might wonder why ancient history is relevant today. The answer lies in the profound impact that Roman culture, politics, and philosophy have had on the contemporary world.

Engaging with Roman history isn’t just about learning what happened thousands of years ago. It’s about understanding how those events shape current legal systems, governance, art, and culture. By studying the past, you gain a deeper appreciation of the present. The social structures, political strategies, and cultural developments of ancient Rome are echoed in today’s world.

At the Ancient Studies Institute, you’ll not only learn about historical events but also develop skills in critical thinking and analysis. These skills are essential in any field of study or future career. The ability to analyze complex information, draw connections between different periods, and understand the evolution of ideas and systems is invaluable.

This program isn’t just about acquiring knowledge; it’s about learning to think in new ways. You’ll be encouraged to ask questions, challenge assumptions, and consider multiple perspectives. This approach will help you become a more thoughtful, informed, and engaged citizen.

What Themes are Explored at the Institute?

At the Ancient Studies Institute, you will explore various themes that are central to understanding ancient Rome. This exploration is not just about historical events; it’s about delving into the societal, cultural, and political aspects of Roman civilization. You’ll learn how Roman society was structured, how their government functioned, and what daily life was like for people during that time.

A significant focus will be on understanding Roman art, architecture, and literature, which have left an indelible mark on the world. These studies will help you appreciate the sophistication and complexity of Roman contributions to these fields.

Moreover, examining the Roman Empire’s expansion, governance, and eventual decline provides insights into the cyclical nature of civilizations. These lessons are crucial for understanding the rise and fall of empires and nations throughout history and in the present day.

The program aims to provide you with a comprehensive and nuanced understanding of ancient Rome, equipping you with knowledge and skills that are valuable in a wide range of academic and career paths.

How Does the Institute Approach the Study of ‘Villainy’?

This theme might initially seem unusual, but it offers a unique perspective on Roman history and culture. By studying ‘villainy’, you’re not just learning about the notorious figures of the past but also understanding the broader societal and ethical frameworks of the time.

When you think of Roman history, names like Julius Caesar and Nero might come to mind. These figures are often depicted with a mixture of awe and infamy. At the Institute, you’ll examine the lives and actions of such individuals, not just to label them as heroes or villains, but to understand the complexities of their characters and the times they lived in. This approach allows you to see beyond the simplified narratives often presented in history books.

This theme also prompts you to think critically about the concept of ‘villainy’ itself. What made someone a villain in ancient Rome? How do these standards compare to today’s moral and ethical norms? Such questions are not just academically intriguing; they encourage you to reflect on contemporary societal values and how they have evolved from ancient times.

Moreover, exploring ‘villainy’ in the Roman context offers insights into the political and social dynamics of the era. You’ll learn how power was gained, used, and abused, and how public perception and historical narratives were shaped. This study is particularly relevant in understanding how history is recorded and remembered.

A male student looking for his university

What Unique Activities Are Included in the Program?

At the Ancient Studies Institute, a range of unique activities are designed to deepen your understanding of Roman history and culture:

1. Interactive Learning Sessions: These sessions are not typical classroom lectures. You’ll engage in active discussions, debates, and problem-solving exercises that make learning about ancient Rome dynamic and interesting. This interactive approach ensures that you’re not just passively receiving information but actively engaging with it, making the learning experience more memorable and effective.

2. Creative Projects: You’ll have opportunities to work on projects that allow you to express your understanding of Roman culture creatively. Whether it’s through writing, art, or multimedia presentations, these projects help consolidate your learning and encourage you to explore Roman history from different perspectives.

3. Hands-on Activities: The Institute includes hands-on activities that bring ancient Roman culture to life. These might include recreating Roman artifacts, participating in mock archaeological digs, or engaging in role-play exercises that simulate Roman social and political scenarios.

4. Group Discussions: Group discussions are a key part of the learning experience at the Institute. You’ll participate in guided discussions where you can share your thoughts and learn from your peers. This collaborative environment not only enhances your learning experience but also helps develop your communication and teamwork skills.

5. Exploration of Roman Art and Architecture: You’ll explore Roman art and architecture, learning about their significance and impact. This includes understanding the aesthetics of Roman art and the engineering marvels of Roman architecture, which provide insights into Roman technological advancements and cultural values.

6. Cultural Immersion Activities: The program may include activities that immerse you in aspects of Roman culture, such as language workshops, culinary experiences, or exploring Roman literature. These activities are designed to give you a taste of Roman life, enriching your understanding of their society and customs.

These diverse activities at the Ancient Studies Institute ensure a comprehensive and engaging learning experience, providing you with deep insights into ancient Roman civilization.

How Does the Program Enhance Critical Thinking and Research Skills?

At the Ancient Studies Institute, you’ll be challenged to think critically about historical events and figures. This involves evaluating evidence, making informed judgments, and understanding the complexities of historical narratives. Such analytical skills are crucial in academic and professional settings.

You’ll learn how to conduct effective research, a skill vital for academic success. This includes finding reliable sources, synthesizing information, and presenting your findings in a coherent manner. The program encourages you to interpret various types of historical evidence, from texts to artifacts. This practice develops your ability to understand and contextualize historical data, a key skill for historians.

Through debates and discussions, you’ll learn to articulate your views clearly and listen to others’ perspectives. This is essential for developing a well-rounded understanding of complex issues. You’ll also engage in writing assignments that help refine your ability to communicate ideas effectively. Good writing skills are invaluable, whether you’re preparing for college essays or future professional tasks.

By examining ancient Roman society, you’ll gain insights into ethical and moral perspectives of the past and how they relate to modern values. The program teaches you to apply your understanding of ancient Rome to contemporary issues, helping you see the relevance of historical studies in today’s world.

Are There Any Prerequisites for Joining the Institute?

One of the most appealing aspects of the Ancient Studies Institute is its inclusive approach to admissions. As a student interested in the program, it’s reassuring to know that there are no strict prerequisites in terms of prior academic achievement in history or classics. This approach is grounded in the belief that a passion for learning and an open mind are the most crucial requirements.

As a high school junior or senior, you’re at a pivotal point in your academic journey. The Institute recognizes this and is designed to be an enriching educational experience irrespective of your previous exposure to ancient history. This means that whether you have always been captivated by the tales of Roman emperors and gladiators or have only recently developed an interest in ancient civilizations, the program is accessible to you.

The absence of prerequisites also means that the program attracts a diverse group of students. This diversity is not just in terms of academic backgrounds but also encompasses a variety of cultural and geographical perspectives. As a participant, you’ll have the unique opportunity to interact and learn alongside peers from different walks of life, each bringing their unique viewpoints to discussions and activities.

This diversity enriches the learning environment, making the experience at the Ancient Studies Institute not just about acquiring knowledge from instructors, but also about learning from each other. You’ll find that your peers can offer different interpretations and insights into the ancient world, which can broaden your own understanding and appreciation of the subject matter.

Furthermore, the lack of prerequisites allows for a more dynamic and flexible curriculum. The instructors at the Institute can tailor the content and pace of the program based on the collective experience and interests of the group. This adaptability ensures that the program remains engaging, challenging, and relevant to all participants, regardless of their initial level of knowledge about ancient Rome.

In addition to fostering a rich academic experience, the no-prerequisite policy also aligns with the Institute’s broader educational philosophy. The focus is on nurturing a love for learning, encouraging intellectual curiosity, and developing critical thinking skills. These are qualities that transcend specific academic backgrounds and are invaluable in any field of study or career path you may choose to pursue in the future.

college student at campus

What are the Benefits of a Residential Program Experience?

Living on campus at Washington University in St. Louis, you’ll get a real sense of what college life is like. This includes managing your time, balancing academic and social activities, and becoming more independent.

Being in a residential program also means you’ll be part of a community of like-minded peers. The relationships and networks you build here can be invaluable, lasting well beyond the duration of the program. It’s a chance to make connections with students from diverse backgrounds, each bringing their own unique perspectives to the table.

Additionally, living on campus allows you to immerse yourself fully in the learning experience. You’re not just attending classes; you’re living and breathing the academic atmosphere of one of the country’s prestigious universities. This immersion can be incredibly motivating and inspiring, giving you a taste of the excitement and challenges of college life.

The residential aspect also encourages a deeper engagement with the program’s material. You’re not just learning during class hours; discussions and collaborations often continue outside of formal teaching times, in more informal settings. This constant engagement can lead to a richer understanding of the subject matter.

Furthermore, being part of a residential program at the Ancient Studies Institute means you’ll have access to the university’s facilities and resources. This could include libraries, laboratories, and other academic resources that can enhance your learning experience.

Lastly, this experience is also about personal growth. Living away from home, even for a short period, can help you develop independence, resilience, and adaptability. These are essential life skills that will benefit you in your future academic and professional endeavors.

How Can This Program Influence Future College Applications?

Participating in the Ancient Studies Institute can significantly influence your future college applications. Through this program, you acquire a set of skills and experiences that make your application stand out. Colleges often look for students who have shown a commitment to learning and an ability to engage with complex subjects, qualities that your participation in this program demonstrates.

Moreover, the experience you gain at the Institute showcases your intellectual curiosity and willingness to challenge yourself academically. These are traits that colleges value highly. Your involvement in a specialized program like this also indicates a depth of interest in a particular subject area, which can be appealing to colleges that value focused academic pursuits.

In addition to the academic benefits, the program also helps in your personal growth, another aspect that colleges consider. The experience of living on a university campus and interacting with a diverse group of peers prepares you for the social and cultural aspects of college life.

Furthermore, your experience at the Institute can be a valuable topic for your college essays. It can provide rich material that showcases your learning journey, your insights, and how the experience has shaped your academic and career goals.

Lastly, the skills you develop at the Ancient Studies Institute, such as critical thinking, research, and effective communication, are not just beneficial for college applications but are essential for success in higher education.

Final Thoughts

After exploring the various facets of the Ancient Studies Institute, it’s clear that this program is more than just a summer course on ancient Rome. It’s a comprehensive experience that immerses you in the rich tapestry of Roman history and culture. The program not only broadens your academic horizons but also contributes to your personal growth and development.

From enhancing critical thinking skills to providing a taste of college life, the Institute prepares you for future academic challenges and opportunities. As you consider your options for summer programs and further studies, remember that the Ancient Studies Institute is a unique opportunity to delve deep into the ancient world, connect with peers who share your interests, and prepare for a successful transition to college.

Multiracial university students

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