What You Need to Know About the UC Davis Young Scholars Program

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Young man smiling for the camera.

What You Need to Know About the UC Davis Young Scholars Program

The UC Davis Young Scholars Program is an interactive, comprehensive, and exciting summer program designed to give students a hands-on opportunity to experience real scientific research. Although the program is open to students from all disciplines and academic interested, it’s specifically geared towards those with a penchant for science. The highlight of the UC Davis Young Scholars Program is its full-immersion design which sees like-minded students livings, studying, and researching on campus for six weeks during the summer. It’s an excellent opportunity for students to pursue their academic goals in the field, to get real-world experience in terms of research, and to determine whether or not a science-related major is what they’d like to pursue in college. An ancillary benefit is the boost participants will experience in their college applications. AdmissionSight has helped students find and prepare for the most suitable programs, and we’ve put together this guide to help those interested in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program. Read on to learn what the program offers, the benefits of participating, and other helpful information.

a professor mentoring her students

What is the UC Davis Young Scholars Program?

The primary goal of the UC David Young Scholar Program as expressed on its main website is to engage and expose 40 high school students to a wide range of research experiences that revolve around the fields of natural, environmental, agricultural, and biological sciences. The program is aimed at students who are high achievers and those with high potential. In order to be considered for the program, students have to be enrolled as a junior or sophomore in high school at the time of application.

The UC Davis Young Scholars Program places a strong emphasis on providing students with an opportunity to develop an understanding and an appreciation for research in biological science and its resulting interdisciplinary effect on related fields through a comprehensive research experience that takes place in state-of-the-art labs. Under the guidance and mentorship of research faculty at the university, each participant will take on an extended research project with access to a university laboratory for six weeks.

a group of forensic science student wearing their complete laboratory outfit and working inside the lab

While the research component is the main highlight and focus of the UC Davis Young Scholars Program, there are some other prominent aspects of the program that shouldn’t go unnoticed. Students in the program will also participate in a series of lectures that are designed with the intention of reinforcing some fundamental biological concepts. To make things even more exciting, there will be weekend excursions to places like the Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe, and even the Pacific Ocean. In order to fully immerse themselves in the program in all social and academic aspects and to ensure sufficient study time, students will have to reside on-site, including for most of the weekends.

All students participating in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program will enroll in five units of what’s known as University Group Study Credit. Although the research projects are the primary focus of the program, you’ll also have to field some assignments throughout the duration of the project. Some of these assignments include a research notebook, a journal-quality article that outlines the research you’re conducting, and the resulting conclusions, a presentation of your research during a research symposium, and another presentation of your research to fellow students at your home high school. All of this work is to be graded, and you’ll receive credit after you complete home presentations.

Is there financial assistance for the UC Davis Young Scholars Program?

The exact price of the UC Davis Young Scholars Program tends to fluctuate slightly each year given the natural price fluctuations of the research equipment, materials, excursions, and other costs involved. Although the exact prices for the 2021 program have yet to be finalized, we can look to the overall cost of previous years in order to give participants an accurate idea of what they can expect to spend.

In 2020, the estimated cost of the six-week, intensive program was $6,500. (Unfortunately, the exact price was never realized for this year since it was canceled due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic). This price included board, room, university credit, program costs, and all activities that take place during the UC Davis Young Scholars Program.  For those who can’t attend as a result of financial limitations, there are funds available to assist. AdmissionSight recommends applying if you’re unsure about the cost.

In order to be considered for a reduction in the overall program fee, participants have to submit an application of sorts. The package needs to include a letter or cover sheet explaining a guardian or parent’s financial situation and request for support along with a copy of the guardian or parent’s most relevant Federal Income Tax Form (i.e.1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040). The exact amount of the overall fee reduction will be determined by the needs as they’re assessed by the admission board. The number of applicants and the availability of relevant funds will also play a role in how much each participant receives. Requests for a fee reduction will only be accepted before and during application acceptance since the reductions are dolled out when notifications of acceptance to the program are administered.

What do students need to have before participating in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program?

In order to participate in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program, students have to meet one basic requirement. The only rule requires that students be a minimum of 16 years old before the program beings but not 18 years old at the end. This would mean that most rising juniors and/or seniors could participate in this summer program. Other than that, the program is pretty much open to anyone, although students with strong applications will certainly be considered above others.

Students walking in the school campus.

You don’t have to be residing in California at the time of the program to attend. Both international and out of state students are eligible and encouraged to apply. While both groups have to fund their transition to California during the duration of the program, out of state students really don’t have to do anything different than in-state participants. However, international students who wish to participate in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program should get in touch with the Executive Director to receive detailed information that applies exclusively to international students. The time sensitivities and visa situations make it critical that intentional students apply as early as possible.

What kind of field trips are included in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program?

Field trips are one of the most popular components of the UC Davis Young Scholars Program. Although the program doesn’t visit the same locations each year, there are some recurring field trips that are a favorite among students and faculty alike. When the 2021 program has been finalized, the locations of next year’s field trips will be posted on the official site. Here’s a list of some of the most popular field trips that have been taken over the past few summers.

Monterey Bay Aquarium – This famous location is the perfect example of an ideal blend between a public venue a private research facility. It maximizes the opportunity to conduct research while also having a great place to share the results publicly. Young Scholars often travel to the Monterey Bay Aquarium to spend the early morning learning more about the ecology of the area and the surrounding ecosystems that exist along the shoreline. At the end of the exciting day, students have the opportunity to see historic Monterey and Cannery Row, an elective waterfront street.

students doing a sea clean up

UC Davis Bodega Marine Laboratory – At the Bodega Bay Marine Laboratory, participants in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program have the chance to experience research taking place away from the primary campus area. Parents and participants both have an opportunity to tour the grounds and laboratories in order to learn more about studies being conducted at the time. After the informative tour, the group stops at a local beach for some beach, sun, and lunch. If you haven’t noticed by now, the organizers of this program are great about throwing in some leisure time for fun.

Alcatraz or Exploratorium and San Francisco – Although it might not seem like a relevant field trip, students have had the chance to visit the famous island prison of Alcatraz. While there’s a side tour of the intriguing and historically-relevant prison, there’s a focus on the newly renovated Exploratorium. Later on, students typically visit Fisherman’s Warf and Pier 39 – well-known landmarks in their own right.

UC Davis Tahoe Environmental Research Center – Another great field trip and research opportunity for participants in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program takes place at the Tahoe Environmental Research Center (TERC). TERC has been dedicated to public outreach, education, and research on lakes, their surrounding watersheds, and airshed. Young Scholars have the chance to see the middle of the large Lake Taho on a UC Davis research vessel in order to see how the clarity and health of the lake are tracked first hand. Following a similar progression of other field trips, students head to King’s Beach after visiting TERC in order to get some well-earned beach time.

Donner Summit Overnight – The Donner Summit region in California is a natural wonder with stunning landscapes and captivating vistas. Participants will spend two days in the area exploring the local ecology, history, and geology. As a reflection of the area’s austere nature, sleep arrangements are quite rustic during this excursion. Students should bring comfortable and warm sleeping bags. The camp’s dining hall will provide all meals.

How is the UC Davis Young Scholars Program special?

One quick Google search will prove that there are countless summer programs from which high school students can choose to participate. This sheer variety often makes it difficult for interested students to know where to begin. If you’re interested in pursuing a scientific-related major, the UC Davis Young Scholars Program should certainly be a consideration. What makes this summer program stand apart from others is its dedication to hands-on research experiences. This is the perfect opportunity for students who want to gain some real-world experience with their scientific knowledge.

The program’s field trips are another distinguishing characteristic. Not only are participants able to get involved with real research opportunities, but they also have the chance to get out into the field to see how real scientists conduct experiments, what equipment they use, and what their overall environment looks like. It’s this complete immersion that sets the UC Davis Young Scholars Program from other summer programs. By the end of the program, you’ll certainly feel like a more capable student of the sciences.

What are the benefits of attending the UC Davis Young Scholars Program?

Out of all the summer programs you can choose from, there’s no doubt that the UC Davis Young Scholars Program sticks out as one of the more unique and enticing options. After all, if students are willing to give up a good portion of summer vacation in order to do academically related activities – no matter how fun – the program certainly has to be worth it. Below, we’ve outlined some of the main advantages of attending the UC Davis Young Scholars Program. Hopefully, these benefits will simplify your decision-making process.

  • Your college application will be stronger – The most frustrating thing about college admissions is its competitive nature. With thousands of other students applying to the same school, making your application stand out from the crowd becomes a key factor in determining whether you’ll be accepted or not. AdmissionSight has always recommended that students do everything reasonably in their power to strengthen their applications and participation in the UC Davis Young Scholars Program definitely accomplishes this goal. An intense extracurricular summer program like this shows admission officers just how dedicated you are to the subject.
  • You’ll have a clearer understanding of your major – Constantly switching between majors is an issue that plagues nearly every college student at one time or another. Ideally, you’d be able to enter into the college of your choice being confident about your chosen major. Not only does this make it easier to determine the ideal college program, but it also increases your chances of graduating in the standard four years. Participation in such an in-depth program is a great way to get clarity on what you want to study. Even if you realize that science isn’t your passion, it’s still worth the insight.
  • You’ll find it easier to transition to college-level material – Just like AP courses, summer programs often expose students to content that’s more on par with the curriculum of college courses than that of high school courses. While this challenge might be frustrating at first, it’s the only way you’ll be able to grow in understanding and knowledge during the program. The skills and prowess you come away with will make it significantly easier to make the transition from high school into college. This can help to ease any anxiety you have about your first year of college since you’ve already successfully dealt with university-level material.

AdmissionSight is your college admission specialist

The AdmissionSight team has dedicated itself to helping students succeed in every step of the college admission process. With over a decade of experience in the area, we’ve developed the expertise, knowledge, and resources necessary to aid students in the realization of their academic goals. Whether you want to get into the likes of Harvard, Yale, and other Ivy League Schools or simply want to gain admittance to a respected state college, we offer services that can help improve your chances. We offer essay editing assistance, help with finding summer programs, and dedicated academic guidance – just to name a few. If you’re interested in learning more about our services and how we can help you specifically, please feel free to contact us.







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