How To Get Into SUMaC Summer Program

Prestigious summer programs for high school students can boost a college application profile, as well as broaden student exposure to college-level academic topics. So, what’s it like to attend competitive Stanford University Mathematics Camps, SUMaC, summer program? Below, hear from Empowerly’s very own Hanjoon K. as he recounts his own experience. Empowerly is here to help with your summer roadmap; easy as pi, way less complicated than the unit circle. 

Clever young woman solving a mathematical problem standing with her back to the camera writing on a college blackboard

Hanjoon Kim, fellow Stanford University alumni, is a Software Engineer here at Empowerly. In fact, he attended the Stanford University Mathematics Camp (SUMaC) summer program for high school students in 2011. Following, he shares his personal experience with our blog readers below. I interviewed him to help you get a glimpse into the SUMaC life– for all of our SUMaC applicants and hopefuls out there. To start, the SUMaC summer program is a 4-week intensive study of advanced math hosted on Stanford University’s campus. 

What should I expect out of my time at SUMaC summer program? 

Expect an absolute blast, from the math to the structured events. When I attended in 2011, I enjoyed a trip to Angel Island, another trip to the Exploratorium, a scavenger hunt around Stanford University, plus talent shows! It was my favorite high school summer by a large margin, and I came back with a grander sense of the world. I still keep in touch with some of the people I met that summer, and it’s been great to follow their career success. 

SUMaC programming includes lectures, research, and group projects. Students engage topical math research, historical milestones in mathematical discovery, and explore a survey of relevant applied mathematics. Cartesian coordinate system party! 

This summer’s dates are Sunday, July 12- Saturday, August 8, 2020. Tuition for SUMaC costs $7,000, which includes on-campus dorm housing, meals, and transportation. Financial aid is available via online application for American and international students alike. 


What were the most memorable parts of attending SUMaC summer program? 
  • The people
  • The introductory simulation of what it’s like to attend college
  • Learning cool math every day like the unit circle

It was my first time attending a full-time summer camp outside of my home state, and the first opportunity to meet brilliant students from all over the world.  I honestly had a blast getting to meet the counselors and hanging out with fun, math-loving people every day at SUMaC. 

It was also my first time living away from my home for an extended period of time, which gave me a glimpse into how life in college would be. While the camp didn’t give students complete autonomy the way college does, SUMaC summer program staff did plan structured events and give us free time to explore the Stanford University campus. 


Who should attend SUMaC summer program? 

Students who love math and want to learn more about math with a group of equally talented and passionate students should apply. Current 10th- and 11th- grade students are eligible. 

SUMaC summer program also allows students to explore interesting math topics that would typically not be covered until theoretical courses in college: number theory, abstract algebra, and algebraic topology. Calling all aspiring mathematicians! Get on this Euclidean plane! 

The Empowerly Digital Toolkit gives you access to Empowerly’s summer program database, where you can explore other similar summer programs as you prepare your applications. 

Interested? Book a consult to find out how you can access your account!

What does a competitive SUMaC candidate look like? 

A good amount of advanced math coursework helps increase your chances of admission. If a younger student is strategizing toward future application, I’d recommend trying to test out of basic math courses in school if possible in favor of more advanced math coursework. Many of my SUMaC peers (10th- and 11th- graders) had finished Calculus, and some had experience in even more advanced math topics like trigonometry.

A high PSAT score supports your application, too. As with all standardized tests, practice makes perfect. Make sure you take several practice tests before your PSAT test date. 

Any additional extracurriculars that demonstrate your passion for math will also help you stand out; whether it’s participation in math competitions, or your previous attendance of other math camps, be sure to highlight all evidence of your interests in math activities. 

The application also involves a written test, based heavily upon writing proofs. 

 A competitive SUMaC applicant should have: 
  • A high GPA, including but not limited to high grades in math courses
  • High standardized scores, particularly in math portions
  • A demonstrable passion for math through extracurriculars like math competitions
  • Attendance of prior math camps
  • High performance on the SUMaC proof-based entry exam

Want to know more about choosing the right math-based extracurricular activities? Our expert team of counselors knows the drill.

What Can I Expect of the SUMaC Application Process? 

The application process comes with an entry test based on writing proofs.  Without some experience writing proofs, it would be tough to do well on the test, or to keep up with the program’s coursework. 

There are two math proficiency levels to SUMaC: Program 1 and Program 2. Students less experienced in advanced math topics should apply to Program 1. A lot of the students in Program 2 are repeat students who previously attended Program 1. 

Hanjoon’s Pro Tips for SUMaC Summer Program Admission

I recommend students attend other math camps before applying to SUMaC, in middle school and/or the summer before their freshman year– especially if their high school doesn’t offer coursework beyond calculus. Check out camps that cater to younger students, like AwesomeMath. 

My other recommendation is for future SUMaC hopefuls to participate in math competitions. Competing can be a big time commitment, but can pay off toward both summer program and college admission, while advancing your math skills along the way. 

Practice writing proofs before test day, and attempt every problem. Use Khan Academy to browse advanced math like the unit circle and other trigonometry concepts. 

What Personal Value Did You Get Out of Attending SUMaC? 

I grew as a person, learned some cool math, and met brilliant people. Attending this prestigious summer program also boosted my extracurricular profile in terms of college admission. Although attending summer programs at Stanford University in no way guarantees admission to Stanford University. But participation in selective and prestigious summer programs does make you a more competitive applicant.

Ta-da! We’ve Got Essay Editing! 

Preparing an application to SUMaC and other summer programs is actually great practice for college admissions application… but on a smaller scale. If you need help with your application essays, check out Empowerly’s essay editing services.  You’ll receive your edits and suggestions within 24 hours.

Create your Empowerly account to access the Digital Toolkit, giving you access to our Accepted Essay Bank for inspiring examples. Easy as pi, way simpler than the unit circle! We love math puns. 

An Empowerly college counselor can help you chart out a dynamic and rigorous summer. Click below to schedule a consult by phone to learn more. 

Questions? Let us know!