Telluride Association Essays On Education

Are you a highly motivated, intellectually curious high school junior? Apply to the Telluride Association Summer Program!

Telluride Association Summer Program

Telluride Association Summer Program (TASP) is a free six-week summer education experience for high school juniors who are looking for an intellectual challenge. TASP works with institutional partners to offer seminars that will test each students thinking and provide an environment where motivated students can engage and learn from one and other.

Accepted students, TASPers, will attend a seminar, in which they are placed in based on their submitted application materials, led by university scholars and participate in many other educational activities in and outside the classroom.

TASP looks for students from different education backgrounds who demonstrate intellectual curiosity. While a strong academic background is recommended, the TASP does not look to test of the seminar’s subject matter but rather focuses on how students engage with the subject at hand in the classroom, and with other highly motivated students. No grade or college credit is offered through the program.

Eligibility & Selection Criteria

  • All current high school juniors (11th grade)

  • Application is open to U.S. citizens and international students

  • Applicants do not need to attend high school in the U.S.

Every year, TASP accepts approximately 70 students. Students cannot choose which seminar to participate in. While applicants are given the opportunity to rank their preferences, they are placed based on the student’s submitted application materials.

TASP Program Details

The main focus of TASP is the academic seminar you are placed in. For six-weeks, students will attend the simar every weekday morning for 3 hours. Each seminar is led by two faculty members and are discussion-based classes. Students should expect to spend several hours on assigned reading or other preparation for each class to properly participate in the seminar discussions. Additionally, students will be tasked with a number of writing assignments over the six-week program. Students will receive feedback, but will not be graded on their assignments.

Additionally, TASP also enroll students in a public-speaking program and invite guest speakers to give lectures to TASP students. Some past guest speakers include a Nobel laureate physicist, a DNA researcher, and a college president. They come from many different academic disciplines to allow TASP students to explore new fields of study.

Finally, TASP gives students the freedom to pursue their own intellectual pursuits. Students are responsible for organizing their activities outside of the classroom, like community service projects, reading groups, excursions to museums. There will also be time for students to get to know each other and enjoy their summers on a college campus. There will also be college students facilitating the program, giving TASP student a chance to learn more about other things like applying to college, college classes and campus culture.

The 2018 TASP offers 4 different seminars:

1. Cornell I Program

Pleasure and Danger: Bodies in History, Science, Literature, and Philosophy

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

June 24 – August 4, 2018

2. Cornell II Program

Facing Fictions

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

June 24 – August 4, 2018

3. Maryland Program

Protest Poetics: Art and Performance in Freedom Movements

University of Maryland, College Park

June 24 – August 4, 2018

4. Michigan Program  

Just Comics

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

June 24 – August 4, 2018

Here is the complete overview of the offered seminars for the 2018 TASP.

TASP Application Requirements

Applying to TASP will also be good practice for applying to college. The application requires:

  • Applicant Information

  • Academic Information

  • Essays: Students are required to write 3 essays of 9,000 characters (approximately 1,500 words) or less. Here are the essay prompts for the 2018 application:

Essay 1: Reflect on the education (formal and informal) you have received: What experiences have you felt fortunate or unfortunate to have? What part of your education (formal or informal) has challenged you the most? If you attended TASS, please reflect on that experience and explain what you in addition you would hope to gain from and contribute to TASP.

Essay 2: At TASP, you will discuss texts and ideas in a college-style seminar. You should feel comfortable thinking deeply about an issue, communicating a well-reasoned stance, and genuinely engaging with others’ positions. To that end, tell us about a time a text (a piece of writing, movie, song lyrics, etc.) influenced your ideas about an issue. What did you think at first, and how did your thinking change? Refer to specific parts of the text to analyze how it affected your ideas

Essay 3: TASP is comprised of small education communities that rely greatly on the maturity of individual members. Tell us about a recent time you did something that upset or hurt a peer in a community you were involved in. How did you respond to this situation? Reflect on your response, and evaluate it. What would you do the same, and what might you do differently? Why?

  • Short Answer Questions: In addition, students also have to respond to 3 short answer questions, each with a response with no more than 1,500 characters (or 250 words). Here are the prompts:

Question 1: A brief explanation of why you are interested in each seminar and an order of your preference for attending them. If there is a seminar that you would definitely not attend, explain why. (If you are selected for TASP, we will use your answer to help place you into an appropriate seminar.)

Question 2: A list of your favorite books and other media (such as films, exhibits, newspapers, magazines, lectures, music, works of art, etc.)

Question 3: A list of your most relevant activities, work or volunteer experiences, scholarship programs, honors and awards. For each, include a very brief description of its importance to you.

You also allowed to submit an optional essay up to 1,500 characters (250 words) of any other information you feel would help the committee understand your application. This essay can be used to explain any anomalies in your academic record, or a semester off.

TASP Application Deadline & Timeline

  • Application Deadline: Tuesday, January 16, 2018
  • Early March: Applicants selected for interview will have to submit a transcript, recommendation letter by a teacher or counselor, and a paper written for class.
  • Mid-March to Mid-April: Interviews are conducted
  • Late April: Final admissions decisions are made

You can find the application PDF and online form here.

TASP Summer Program Feedback

Many of our College Admits recommend applying to TASP, including those who never applied! It is a well-known, competitive program for rising high school seniors. In fact, some even wrote about that she learned at TASP in her college supplemental essay:


Lia_Columbia, Columbia University ‘19

“TASP, like Columbia, brings together people from vastly different backgrounds. Most of us had never been exposed to the ideas and philosophers we studied. We debated Plato’s view on the value of art late into the night, and discussed the merits of communism in the bathroom in the morning. We built a common repertoire of experience through reading the same texts, discussing our responses, and enduring the absence of decent produce. In only six weeks, my fellow TASP participants and I were able to communicate things like “panopticon” and “Proust” to each other without saying a word. I had one of the best summers of my life.”

She was accepted to Columbia University Early Decision to study creative writing. Unlock her Columbia profile to read her full application essays and her TASP experience in her advice section!

Applying to college?

View the app files and essays of accepted students.


It’s not too early to start planning out your summer! Many of these competitive summer programs have early January application deadlines. So don’t miss out on these opportunities and prepare your application over the holidays! Here is a list of other summer programs you should look at.

About The Author

Frances Wong

Frances was born in Hong Kong and received her bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University. She loves super sad drama television, cooking, and reading. Her favorite person on Earth isn’t actually a member of the AdmitSee team - it’s her dog Cooper.

Telluride Association sponsors a variety of awards for students at many stages of their academic careers.

Without the Mike Yarrow Award my project in Honduras would have been difficult if not impossible.” 
~Theron Tingstad

Awards Offerings

Mansfield-Wefald Senior Thesis Prize

The 1994 Telluride Association Convention established the Mansfield-Wefald Prize to honor the memory of Mary Mansfield and Eric Wefald, two Association members who died tragically in 1989. The prize of $1,000 will be awarded by a committee of Association members for the best scholarly thesis written by a Telluride associate who will have completed his or her final year of undergraduate education in the 2017-18 academic year. The 2017 winner of the prize was University of Michigan graduate Helena Ratté, MB13, for her thesis entitled “Multiple Displacements: Bosnian Refugee Journeys to Germany and Back, 1992-2016.”

Previous winners of the Mansfield-Wefald Prize.

Award recipient will be announced by the Awards Committee in June.  The application date is still to be announced, but has traditionally been in early May.



The Mike Yarrow Adventurous Education Award

Clarence “Mike” Yarrow (DS’25 CB’28 TA’28) led the establishment and operation of the Pasadena Branch of Telluride Association, which operated from 1947 to 1952. In addition to his Telluride activities, Mike was a committed Quaker who worked for world peace in many capacities, at home and abroad. A number of Pasadena Branch alumni and friends have worked to establish the Mike Yarrow Adventurous Education Award in his memory to enable Telluride branchmembers to pursue summer educational projects that reflect his spirit.

The award, of up to $3,000, is designed to allow the recipient to undertake a non-paying, public service activity during the summer that is outside of an academic institution and clearly reflects Mike Yarrow’s interests in peace and service to humanity. The award recipient may be any Telluride Association affiliate who is enrolled in formal education at some point during the 2017 calendar year and over the age of 18 by the time of travel. He or she must have a demonstrated commitment to Telluride Association and a clear need for summer earnings. Within one month of his or her return, the successful applicant must summarize his or her summer activities in a report, which will stand as a record of the summer’s accomplishments, and will also be distributed to the Yarrow Award sponsoring group.

In 2017, the Yarrow Award for Adventurous Education supported the work of Helena Ratté MB13 to conduct program evaluation research for the humanitarian organization AMICA e.V. in Freiburg, Germany and Bosnia and Herzegovina. AMICA e.V  works throughout Europe, the Caucasus, and the Middle East and North Africa region to support women and girls in post-conflict countries and crisis areas.  See Past Yarrow Award Recipients below for more information.

Past Yarrow Award Recipients

The deadline for the application for the 2018 Yarrow Award is March 23, 2018. The award recipient is usually announced by the Awards Committee in late March, in time for students to make their summer plans.



E.M. Johnson Essay Contest

At its 2015 Convention, Telluride Association announced a one-time essay contest in honor of former Telluride Association Chancellor E. M. Johnson on the theme of “The Purpose, Promise, and Practices of Telluride Association, ” open to all Association alumni not currently members of Telluride Association. Entrants submitted essays of one thousand words by January 6, 2015, which were judged by the Awards Committee based on their depth of analysis and grace in verbal expression. Entrants were divided into two divisions: Division I applicants had not yet earned their bachelor’s degree at the time of submission; Division II applicants had already earned their bachelor’s degree at the time of submission. The first prize essay in each division received $1000; the second prize essay received $750; and the third prize essay received $500. The names winners in each division and their essays are posted below:

Division I Winners:

Division II Winners:



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