What is the Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP)?

TASP is a six-week summer program that allows strongly motivated students of any educational background to participate in insightful academic seminars. TASPers also immerse in numerous other educational and social activities beyond the classroom. The program emphasizes self-governance and meaningful learning through group discussion and collective thinking instead of the traditional lecture. Through TASP, students can strengthen public-speaking and discussion skills and develop broad interests through the disciplined seminars and activities hosted by proficient and knowledgeable faculty. 

The program is entirely free, while also very selective, with an estimated five percent acceptance rate. Program locations vary each year between college campuses across the country. 2020’s campus locations included: Cornell University, the University of Maryland, and the University of Michigan. 

Who is Eligible?

While TASP does not involve many eligibility requirements besides being a junior in high school, it is important to note that TASP is seeking academically accomplished/promising students with a clear motivation to learn as represented by their responses to the essay/short answer prompts. You do not need to live in the United States or attend an American high school to apply. 

TASP also strongly encourages the applications of underrepresented and financially disadvantaged students. 

How to Apply?

While anyone can find, download, and submit the TASP application online, students can also receive their applications through nomination by teachers or the achievement of a high score on the PSAT/NMSQT. 

Applicants are required to provide general information, including basic personal information about both the applicant and family, demographic data, school information, and familial financial status. 

The second part of the application involves the writing portion. TASP repeatedly stresses these responses as the primary basis of their admission decisions. Therefore, applicants should provide “thoughtful, complete, and concise” content. Each essay should be at least 500 words, with a maximum of 1,500. 

While it is possible that essay topics may change, the prompts (as of 2020) are as followed:

  1. Please discuss what you would contribute to your TASP seminar, and why you are interested in TASP. What challenges and opportunities have you experienced in your formal and informal education? How have those experiences shaped your interests, values, and goals, and how would they inform your experience at TASP?
  2.  At TASP, you will talk about texts and ideas in a college-style seminar (a small, discussion-based course). You should feel comfortable thinking deeply about

others’ ideas, coming up with your own ideas, and communicating these in a well-reasoned way. To that end, describe a topic, text, or idea that you find interesting. What makes it interesting? Why do you care about it?

3. Please be sure to answer both parts A and B of this question. Your answer to each part should be between 250 and 750 words. TASP is composed of small educational communities that rely greatly on members’ maturity and capacity to learn from challenging experiences.

a. Tell us about a time within the last 3 years when you hurt or upset a peer, and then reacted in a way that you later regretted. Why did you react the way you did? If you could go back in time, how would you respond differently?

b. You find out that a TASPer has been telling your fellow students that you made comments that negatively impacted them. You are very surprised to hear this, and no one has ever said anything like that to you before. You begin to notice some of the other students are not as friendly with you anymore, and seem to be upset about what they have heard. How would you handle this situation?

Short answer questions that follow the essay revolve around the applicant’s activities/awards, interest in the seminar topic, and a list of the applicant’s favorite media (books, films, music, etc.)

One tenth of applicants are selected to be interviewed, in which only then would they receive information about providing a transcript and recommendation letter. 

Any further applicant questions can be answered within TASP’s FAQs.

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