Join us this summer!
@Oxford. Amherst. Stanford. Dublin.

FAQs for Parents

What are the ages of the students at the program?

The Great Books Summer Program is offered for two age groups: the Intermediate Program for those entering grades 6-8, and the Senior Program for those entering grades 9-12.

For our younger participants (entering grades 6-8), the Intermediate Program is often a time of intellectual awakening. The Great Books Summer Program helps young minds gain confidence and find a voice within their own capacity for critical thinking and engagement with important ideas. Readings include: Plato, Homer, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Cervantes, Douglass, Emerson, Dickinson, Lincoln, LeGuin, and others.

Participants in the Senior Program (entering grades 9-12), come from wide-ranging backgrounds and points of view, yet they share a common trust and interest in helping each other hone their creative instincts and intellectual risk-taking. More advanced readings and greater peer-to-peer interaction lead to exciting discussions and debates. The entire program delivers the best possible preparation for the SAT verbal section.

Students who are attending our Oxford program can find answers to their questions here.

Who are the counselors?

The counselors at the Great Books Summer Program are called Program Assistants and they are chosen from hundreds of applicants. Our staff hails from colleges and universities including Stanford, Yale, Amherst, Columbia, Cornell, and Harvard. Our summer staff have outstanding academic credentials, possess exceptional maturity and share a passion for leading kids. To learn more about our staff, click here.

How much supervision is there?

Program Assistants supervise students for the entire stay and are each assigned to lead a "pod" made up of 6-8 students. In addition, adult faculty and staff members reside in the dorms and are present at discussions, meals, and activities throughout the day. All students are required to stay within the safety of the supervised group. Employees of Great Books Summer Program go through a rigorous personal background check.

Participants in our Senior Program (entering grades 9-12), enjoy more freedom to explore the towns of Amherst, Palo Alto, Oxford and Dublin, take field trips and use the athletic facilities with their Program Assistant. Lights out for the Senior Program is 11 pm and students have free time each evening in the dorm lounges.

How will my child receive medical care if it is needed?

All programs have on-campus health facilities or community-based physicians who are on-call for participants of Great Books Summer Program. Prescriptions and over-the-counter treatments for pain and minor discomfort will be administered by our adult staff with a signed parental permission notice. A completed medical form is required to attend and gives you the opportunity to share all relevant information.

How do I communicate with my son or daughter?

Parents are encouraged to text their children. Students are allowed to bring cell phones, but we ask that calls and texting be kept to a minimum and during specified times only. All phones will be turned off during class and activities. Emergency contact numbers will be provided at registration.

What are the housing arrangements like?

Students are ordinarily assigned to single or double rooms in the dormitories of Amherst College, Stanford University, University of Oxford and Trinity College, Dublin. Boys and girls are separated by floors or wings, and in some cases by dorms. Students are also separated by age group as much as possible.

Most of our students come to the program by themselves, but if there's a request for a friend or sibling roommate we will do our best to meet it.

Do you provide transportation to and from the airport for students traveling alone?

We will arrange transportation to and from the airport for students traveling alone for an additional cost of $85 one-way. Students traveling by air should use Bradley (Hartford) Airport for Amherst and San Francisco Airport for Stanford. More complete instructions will be sent to you if you would like to use this service. A staff member will meet the flight and accompany the students on an airport shuttle van to or from campus. Students needing transportation must arrive between 11:00 am and 2:30 pm on the day of registration, and should plan to depart on flights leaving between 12:00 noon and 2pm. Flights arriving and departing outside of these windows must be approved in advance.

Students traveling to our Oxford or Dublin programs will receive group travel information upon registration.

What kinds of recreational activities are there?

Each day, our college-age Program Assistants lead a variety of fun activities and games, taking advantage of the beautiful open lawns and facilities of our unique campuses. We go fountain hopping at Stanford and swimming in the Olympic-sized pool at Amherst. There are ball games, foam sword fights, theater skits, jam sessions, and chess matches. In the evenings, there are movies, impromptu music sessions, performances, a dance, and lively discussions in the dorm rooms.

Students in the Senior Program (entering grades 9-12) often have separate planned activities such as shopping in Amherst or exploring the Stanford book store, hikes to nearby ponds for swimming, campus tours and museum visits.

During our multi-week sessions students take part in Saturday excursions to nearby areas of interest. At Amherst, we'll leave campus for a fun-filled day trip to the local Six Flags park, or to explore the Pioneer Valley mountains and lakes. Students at Stanford will head off to explore San Francisco or venture to San Jose or Monterey Bay.

In addition, students can choose from several "electives" in the visual and performing arts. We offer theater, art, writing and music electives. Working in small groups with highly talented teachers, students collaborate and contribute to a final evening of performances which is one of the highlights of the program. To learn more about the electives, click here .

What about meals and snacks?

All of our meals are provided by the college dining services. They offer a wide selection of nutritious foods and beverages and can accommodate special dietary concerns if we are notified in advance. During the sessions, we often have outdoor barbecues, picnics, and ice cream sundae parties. Healthy snacks and drinks are provided during breaks.

What do students do in terms of clean clothes?

Coin-operated laundry facilities are in each of the dormitories. Multi-week sessions will include a break for students needing to use the laundry. Program Assistants are available to accompany or help students. We ask that students attending the one-week program pack enough clothes for the session.

Should my child read anything in advance?

No advance reading is required before the start of the program. Reading selections are generally brief, with the majority of time spent on discussions, activities and group projects. Students should just come ready to have an unforgettable experience!

What is included in the tuition?

Tuition includes all instruction, supervision, materials, recreational activities, three meals per day with snacks provided, and a T-shirt. Transportation to and from campus is not included.

Are there any savings for families with two or more children attending?

If two or more siblings attend, each sibling receives a savings of $100 on their tuition.

Is there financial aid available?

Limited financial aid may be available based upon demonstrated need. To view more information on financial aid, click here.

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