Canada/USA Mathcamp Math JamGo back to the Math Jam Archive
Canada/USA Mathcamp Program Director Marisa Debowsky describes the Mathcamp summer program for high school math students.
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Facilitator: Marisa Debowsky
Hello and welcome to the Canada/USA Mathcamp Math Jam!
Before I introduce our guests, let me briefly explain how our online classroom works.
This room is moderated, which means that all your questions and comments come to the moderators. We may share your comments with the whole room if we so choose.
Also, you'll find that you can adjust the classroom windows in a variety of ways, and can adjust the font size by clicking the A icons atop the main window.
Canada/USA Mathcamp is an intensive five-week-long summer program for high-school students interested in mathematics, designed to expose students to the beauty of advanced mathematical ideas and to new ways of thinking. You can learn more about Canada/USA Mathcamp at www.mathcamp.org.
In this Math Jam, Canada/USA Mathcamp staff will lead a discussion about their outstanding program. Many AoPS instructors, assistants, and students are alumni of Mathcamp, including me!
For now, please hold your questions -- they'll let you know when you can start asking questions. Also, due to the number of people attending tonight, they may not be able to get to every question.
And now let me introduce our guests!
Marisa Debowsky (MarisaD) started teaching at Mathcamp in '06 and has been the director of the program since 2009. If you have been writing emails to Mathcamp, she's probably been answering them.
Jalex Stark (khanh93) was a Mathcamp student in '12 and '13 and a JC (= counselor) in '14 and '15. They are currently a third-year math major at Caltech, where they run the annual Caltech Harvey Mudd Math Competition. This summer, they will work as a counselor at Bridge to Enter Advanced Mathematics (BEAM), a math summer camp for underprivileged 7th graders in New York City.
Yulia Gorlina (ygorlina) was a Mathcamp student in '99 - '01 and staff in '02 - '04. She went to Caltech for undergrad, and then the University of Arizona for grad school, where she got a Ph.D. in math. She's now a Business Intelligence Developer at Epic in Madison, Wisconsin.
David Roe (roed) was a Mathcamp student in '99-'02 and has been staff almost every year since. This summer, he'll be the Mathcamp Academic Coordinator, in charge of putting together the course catalog (of about 150 classes and 30 projects) and overseeing the academic side of the program. Outside of camp, he went to MIT for undergrad, and then Harvard for grad school, where he got a Ph.D. in math. He's now a Postdoc at the University of Pittsburgh.
And I'm Laura Zehender; I was Mathcamp student in '07-'09, and currently work at AoPS in San Diego.
I'll turn the room over to Marisa now!
Hi, everybody, and welcome to the annual Mathcamp Q&A! A big thanks to @LauraZed, @rrusczyk, and the AoPS team for hosting us.
So: David, Jalex, Yulia and I are here to talk about Mathcamp 2016, both the program and the application process. (You’ve got a captive audience with some admissions officers, so now’s your chance to ask your burning questions about applying to camp.)
First, I’ll say in a few short sentences what Mathcamp is. Then we’ll spend about 30 minutes discussing the program, and 30 minutes discussing the application process, and then we’ll wrap up around 9pm ET.
So, Mathcamp: it’s a 5-week residential math summer program. This year, it runs Sunday, July 3 through Sunday, August 7th, and it takes place at Colby College in Maine.
Really really frequently asked questions, to get them out of the way:
Who: We have 120 students per year, from all over the world. It’s 65-75 new campers and 45-55 returning alumni per year. It’s about 1/3 girls, 2/3 boys.
What kind of math? All kinds. Our course catalog has about 150 classes per summer, and you have complete freedom to design your own curriculum.
What else happens? There are a zillion (approximately) activities happening during the evenings and on weekends, and you choose how to spend your time.
How: Admission is competitive. (We expect to admit around 15% of students who apply this year.) The central components are the Qualifying Quiz (http://mathcamp.org/quiz/) and a personal essay (http://mathcamp.org/essay/).
When: Today is the early admission deadline (if you want an early decision), and the regular deadline to apply is April 15th.
Scholarships: Yes! We have them. We offer tons of need-based financial aid, and about 20% of our students received full scholarships last year. Every student (US, Canadian, & International; new and returning) is eligible for financial aid.
Okay, I think it's time for me to stop talking: we want to get to as many of your questions as possible We'd like to meet *you* along with your question, so here’s a suggested format:
Name / Age / State-or-Country: Question
Julian / 14 / MA: What is the official mascot of Mathcamp?
Debbie / Parent / England: What are the cooking facilities like?
(But that format is not mandatory - in keeping with the spirit of Mathcamp, just about everything is optional, and we’ll address you any way you like.)
Okay, ready? Let’s spend about 7:45 - 8:15 on questions about the program itself: mathematical and residential life at Mathcamp; the people; the campus; the "during" and "after" of Mathcamp. (And then we’ll switch over to discussing the "before": the application process and financial aid.)
The website says that ages 13-18, are there no Middle Schoolers?
Is this a day camp or a night camp?
It's residential - so, both!
There are students from grades 7 - 12.
Do you learn competition oriented math, or just higher level math?
Jaden / 15 / Ontario: Do a lot of the alumni of this program end up going to top schools like MIT or Caltech?
We teach both problem-solving and research-focused math, but problem solving is a pretty small part of what happens at Mathcamp. Most classes are more like college and graduate courses.
@jf57: We have alumni at various universities, including MIT and Caltech.
Some students go on to tech schools (like those), but also to lots of other styles of school: private research, big state schools, small liberal arts schools.
@vatatmaja, there is some competition oriented math (both courses and problem solving activities), but that's not the main focus of the courses. Most courses are not focused on competitions.
We do have the team problem solving session though
And math relays every Saturday.
[Group note: I'm seeing a lot of questions about the application process in the queue -- I'm going to hold all of those until the second half, just FYI.]
Jessica / 15 / AZ: Is there any sort of limitations on number of classes you can select? And how are the classes assigned? Are there limits on numbers of students per course?
Is there a way to get the course catalog?
@ jyanyp15: You get to take at most four classes per day, and you get to choose which classes to go to. You have an Academic advisor that you meet with every week to help you make sure you're accomplishing your mathematical goals.
@vatatmaja, you can see previous years academics at http://www.mathcamp.org/2015/academics/ (etc)
what kinda activeties
Are there research opportunities at Mathcamp?
@watermellon44, Board games, white-water rafting, puzzle hunts, trips to national parks (this summer we'll go to Acadia), berry picking, etc.
@ jf57: Mathcamp mentors are active mathematicians, and sometimes projects at camp have focused on real research questions. Most students won't engage in research during their time at camp, though.
Erica / 13 / Florida: Will there be classes for subjects that use math, like computer science?
Is there any homework
We do teach computer science classes! (Mostly theoretical computer science, although sometimes crash courses in programming.) Visiting speakers often give guest lectures about connections between math and related fields (CS, Physics, Computational Cognitive Science - you name it).
@Mmslitte, many classes will have homework, but not all. It's not graded, and generally is more fun than what you might get at school.
Stephen / 12 / TX: Are there any other locations for MathCamp?
Only one per year.
Kaydence / 19 / NJ: Will there be a lot of Moore Method classes? Abel's Theorem was so fun last year!
We do often teach classes in interactive formats, like Moore Method. We're definitely planning some for this year!
Albert / 15 / Canada: Do we get some down time to do other activities during the day? i.e sports
@haloyo: There are not classes ever scheduled after dinner, and most campers use the time after dinner to do things like sports and board games. You're also free to not go to every class period of the day and spend your time on other things.
What's the difference between first and second year at camp?
@ jyanp15: First year and second year campers have all of the same opportunities and expectations at camp. There are so many opportunities that one year is not enough to try them all!
13/VA: is there a recommended or enforced curfew?
@BobCat128, you have to sign in each night by 10pm and stay in the dorm area after that; lounges close at midnight but we don't force people to sleep (though we encourage you to get sleep so you can be awake in class!)
Is the style of this camp similar to other camps such as HCSSiM?
Mathcamp is similar to Hampshire in flavor, but scaled up a bit (more students, broader curriculum). I think if you ask alumni who've been to both programs, they'll say the programs feel different in culture. On the other hand, both programs appeal to really mathy students - like those at AoPS!
what is Moore Method?
Do the youngest and oldest students take the same classes? Is there any separation by age within the camp?
@moonpelt101: We don't separate campers by age; all campers have the same opportunities as all of the other campers. We often see the youngest and oldest campers in the same classes, though older campers tend toward classes that have more prerequisites
Moore Method is a style of class where students are given a list of definitions, propositions, theorems, etc. They work on them for homework, then present in class and critique each others' proofs. It's in contrast to a lecture.
Is there a correlation between and attendance to MathCamp and admission to top colleges?
I know college shouldn't be a big motivation behind summer camps, but would you say that mathcamp is viewed favorably by the top colleges?
The correlation is: the kinds of smart, creative, independent students who go to summer math programs (like ours, but others, too!) are similarly the kinds of smart, creative, independent students who often head to top colleges. But the students were already on that trajectory, so people don't come to MC in order to get into college.
12/CA How many classes are there per day?
@VivekA, there are four class periods per day with four choices in each period. Then there's a colloquium and a period for you to work on math with teachers available to help
What time do you have to wake up?
Julian / 17 / MI: Do people sometimes spend more time on projects than classes? Can you choose what balance to have between those liberally? I know some people don't do projects at all.
@lipoll: You get to choose how to spend your time; if you find a really engaging project, then you can spend most of your mathematical energy on it if you like. If not, then classes usually give out lots of recommended homework that you can work on.
Diego/12/El Salvador: At what time do you have dinner, lunch etc.
It's typically: breakfast 7-9, lunch 11:30 - 1:30, dinner 5 - 6:30. There's no mandatory wake-up time, but if you want breakfast, you have to get up by 8:50am.
@Meimeily, the first period usually starts at 9 or so. But I'm trying to get it to start later. I've never been a morning person.
What type of classes will be held?
What is a colloquium?
13/KY This is the first time I've heard of this, so I'm a bit new . . . how do you register and/or apply and what is covered in the camp? Is there a link I could find basic info?
@Math1331Math, a colloquium is a presentation aimed at everyone (ie it doesn't conflict with other classes). We have about one per day, and often have visitors give them.
Do you have to be 13? is 12 okay?
What is the required age?
@ chelopiano: Historically, we've never made any exceptions to our age policy.
Are there TAs available along with professors?
@jf57, the courses are taught by a mix of graduate students and professors. We don't have TAs, since the classes are small enough for you to have access to the teachers.
What will the academic advisors be like? Are they young adults or are they older, and how many advisors will there be?
Is there a way to choose between single dorms or those with more people?
@Sciencewhiz: Most campers live in doubles. We give singles to campers who have particular needs or strong preferences for them.
Academic advisors are drawn from the teaching staff. They're a mix of graduate students (mostly 22-28 or so) and faculty (older).
Mansi/15/Canada: What kind of environment is it?
That's a tough question, but let me try. It's a very creative, energetic environment. At any given time: someone's working on their problem set; someone's playing frisbee, someone's playing a board game, someone's making up a new game about velociraptor mini-golf, someone's curled up in the library with a book; someone's at choir rehearsal, someone's at a salsa dancing lesson; someone's baking bread; someone's on the phone with their parents, someone's writing a computer program; someone's working on a research project; someone's gone out for pizza with friends. Your task, at Mathcamp, is to do what makes you excited, and you'll find other people who share your passions.
Brett/15/NY Is there a required dress code?
No! It's very casual.
how do cabins and that kind of thing work?
It's held on a college campus, and we stay in the dorms. Most students will have doubles, as Jalex notes.
Do alumni usually stay in contact with each other?
16/NB: How long is each class?
@EsJay991: Most classes run one hour a day for one week. Some will run for just one or two days. A few classes each summer run for multiple weeks, and a few classes run multiple hours a day for one week.
@jf57, I find the alum community to be one of the most amazing features of mathcamp. I'm 31 now, and I met many of my closest friends at mathcamp. People definitely stay in touch.
how are roommates assigned?
We match up roommates by age, messiness level, and how they plan to spend their evenings (studying, hanging out with friends, sleeping), what time they get up (that's a new constraint this year!). We also try to honor roommate requests, if both people request to share a room.
When does the class catalog get posted?
@Sciencewhiz: On the first day of camp, we publish a tentative list of the classes that will run over the summer. At the end of each week, we publish detailed descriptions of the classes running the next week.
ooh! what are math relays?
@ilikepie2003, math relays are a team problem solving competition we hold Saturday afternoon (mathcamp classes are Tuesday-Saturday). They're low-key, and fairly fast paced. You only have two questions at a time, and we often have variants (like relays in the pool).
14/SD: Would I have to know certain material (precalc/calc, etc.) in order to be able to take any classes at Mathcamp? I only have knowledge up to Algebra II.
@epiclucario: If you know enough math to do well on the Qualifying Quiz, then you'll be able to take level-appropriate classes at camp.
What competitions do MathCamp help most in?
So is there some sort of survey that you send out after you have chosen who is accepted to the camp?
Do we have access to the kitchens? I love to cook and it would be nice to be able to bake something.
Re kitchens: Yes!
Re survey: Yes, during the registration process, we collect lots of data about our students.
@Math1331Math, I would say that mathcamp will teach you a lot of math, but isn't really aimed at any math competitions in particular.
Julian / 17/ MI: lounges close at midnight, but when do people actually go to sleep?
It varies a lot. I'd say between 10 and 12:30 is typical.
Are personal devices allowed?
Like computers and cell phones? Yes.
is there an orientation at the beginning of camp, or any other necessary events for that matter?
@BobCat128: On the first day of camp, we tell you everything we think you need to know in order to thrive over the summer. Afterward, we have one mandatory morning assembly per week so that we can distribute critical information.
Are we allowed to cook food on campus?
We generally eat in the cafeteria. There are some kitchens, but not enough to cook most meals (and you can't use them on your own). Staff sometimes run baking activities though.
Wait, there are salsa dancing lessons?
Relays in the pool? Like a swimming pool?
@WL0410: Yep! This usually happens once near the end of camp.
is it ok to practice violin at camp?
And there are practice rooms for serious musicians.
Does a student get to know what course(s) s/he will be taking before s/he goes to the camp?
You'll get a chance to look at the course catalog in June, before camp starts, but you'll really make those decisions once you get to camp. The first step is to choose an academic advisor, and then you'll have a one-on-one meeting with your advisor to talk about your plans for the summer - what you're interested in studying, and what MC classes will be the best fit.
Do the practice rooms include pianos?
Is there a piano in the practice room?
13/OR do you have to choose classes or can you just show up to any class any day?
@yayups: You have the freedom to show up to different classes on different days, though it's generally best to stay with a week-long class for a whole week, since different days of the same class build on each other.
is there unlimited food?
Yeah, food is generally unlimited.
yay practice rooms
How large is the campus?
(To be exact.) But our dorm, dining hall, and classrooms are all near one another.
which university is Camp at this year?
Colby College in Waterville, ME (www.colby.edu)
What are weekends usually like?
Some people relax on the weekends, sleep in, play board games, etc. There are also lots of field trips (white-water rafting, puzzle hunt, Acadia National Park, berry-picking, contra dancing...)
Is it easy to make friends at Mathcamp?
When I was a camper, I found making friends at mathcamp to be very easy. You will likely have a lot in common with other campers, and when you're around each other a lot, making friends is much easier.
What are the rules about leaving campus?
@AstroCarp: Campers can check out to leave campus in groups of at least three. They have to tell a staff member where they're going and when they'll be back, so that we know to check up on you if you're late.
Will we be able to access all of campus?
At 6:30 there are "evening activities" can I go back to the dorm and do other stuff like aops classes?
That's an evening activity (for you).
Are we sharing the campus with other camps?
@ BobCat128: Yes
We are sharing campus with other groups
What will the visiting speakers be talking about?
@AlanDu: Visiting speakers talk about lots of things! Usually their talks are focused in their area of research.
Could you list some of the most popular courses people take?
Check out http://www.mathcamp.org/2015/academics/4WeekSchedule.pdf for last year's schedule.
I think Combinatorial Game Theory might be the historically most popular class
You can find descriptions at http://www.mathcamp.org/2015/academics/
Do we get t-shirts / apparel?
@AstroCarp: We give out Mathcamp T-shirts at the end of camp. Sometimes we run tie-dye as a camp activity, for a different kind of camp apparel.
15/CA Are there specific things that we need to bring to the camp?
There's a suggested packing list: http://www.mathcamp.org/currentstudents/precamp/whattobring.php
(not trying to offend anyone) What is the general demographic of Mathcampers? Are there minorities (by gender, race, age, etc.) among the campers or is it more "balanced"?
It's a big mix. Usually, about 1/3 girls, 2/3 boys; about 75% US, 10-15% Canadian, and 10-15% from other countries.
The mean, median, and mode of the age distrituion are almost always 16. On the first day of Mathcamp 2015:
4 campers age 13
8 campers age 14
23 campers age 15
35 campers age 16
33 campers age 17
17 campers age 18
0 campers age 19
(That was slightly more young students than we usually see, and we do once in a while have 19-year-olds.)
How are the classes run? Are they more proof-oriented or problem solving based?
Classes vary based on the instructor, but more of them are about cool topics that you wouldn't normally see in high school than about problem solving. We usually have 1 or 2 problem solving classes each week.
(One or two per day, that is, that continue throughout the week.)
Are the courses aimed toward college or usamo/imo training?
More towards college, but it's a mix.
What are the pepper things in this link? http://www.mathcamp.org/2015/academics/4WeekSchedule.pdf
@himaximushi: Chili peppers! Some classes are "spicier" than others, which means they move at a faster pace and introduce higher-level ideas.
Does the homework have to be printed or hand-written? Or does it vary from class to class?
Do we have homework and if we do, is it mandatory that we do it?
Homework is optional, but most people opt in. You mostly handwrite, but there's a computer lab in case you wanted to TeX something up.
Can classes be "full" if they're too popular?
No, we'll just move them to a bigger room.
Is there a lights out time?
(And add a TA if need be.)
@AllenWang134: On weeknights, we ask campers to be in their rooms and not make loud noise after midnight, but we don't force them to be silent or turn their lights out.
Where is MathCamp 2016?
Colby College, in Maine.
is it a boarding camp?
Sign in lasts two hours, what exactly happens? can it be shortened? Why does it take so long?
@AllenWang134: Students only have to spend a few minutes signing in, but they have a two-hour window to do it in.
Is the homework proof based or more computational?
Are we allowed to switch classes half-way into the week?
@chezbgone2: Yes! It's a good idea to talk to the instructor before doing so, so that they can tell you about what's been covered so far
@Tega, It's a mix, but it generally doesn't have the feeling of "practice this a bunch in order to get better at it"
During some of the blocks for classes ex: 10:10-11:00 bloack, are we allowed to take no classes?
@AllenWang314: Yes! In fact, we usually encourage students *not* to take 4 classes at once, because that's just too much math for lots of people.
What is sign in?
Then what do you do in the time when everyone else is signing in?
There's a staff member sitting in the lounge between 8 and 10 each night. You have to come visit them at some point, and then stay in the dorms afterward. It only takes a minute, and you can do other stuff during that period.
is the food good
Will there be any courses on programming in LaTeX this year?
@jf57: We usually have an informal workshop at some point during camp, but usually not a full class
MathStudent2002, It's one of the things we select campuses based on. It's good, though cafeteria food can get tiring after a while.
You can always spot a sign-in staff member as they'll be wearing an absurd hat.
Okay! Those were great questions about the program.
Let’s spend about 8:15 - 8:45 on questions about applications and financial aid: eligibility, the application process, scholarships. (And then we’ll open up to any kinds of questions before we wrap up.)
do they have food that copperates with allergies
Do you have any ideas what Moore-Method classes will be held?
Not yet. Still working on the schedule for this summer.
Can you tell us the cost?
how much does the camp cost?
Does it cost money?
Is Mathcamp free for aops students?
The full cost of the program is $4,000, which includes tuition, room & board, local transportation (to and from the airport, e.g.), field trips, your camp t-shirt - the whole program. The only thing not included is your flights to and from camp.
@Tryharder, yes we have food for people with allergies.
We offer LOTS of need-based financial aid, including full scholarships and travel subsidies (i.e. plane tickets to camp).
In fact: Mathcamp is totally free for families in the US and Canada with household income under $60,000. We also give lots of partial and full scholarships to middle-income families.
International students are eligible for financial aid, too.
(Including full scholarships and plane tickets!)
Question: When you say that the top scorers on USAMTS get scholarships into the camp, do you mean students who get like 70 and above or just like the top 30 students? In other words, what's the floor for "top scorers?"
How hard is it to get in? Do you ask AMC, AIME, etc. scores?
We do give small merit awards to the top 30 girls and top 30 boys on the USAMTS competition. We also give small merit awards to top scorers on the Math Prize for Girls competition. (It's how we sponsor each program.)
@SS00090: If you self-report your competition scores, we'll take them into account. If you haven't taken any contests, that's okay! The only proof you need to give us that you're strong enough for camp is your Qualifying Quiz
Is there any differences between early and regular application, for example is there a quota for each or how does admission based on submission work?
Nope, the process and the rate of admission are the same. The only difference is the date of the deadlines.
So there's no advantage for applying early besides knowing results earlier?
How many questions should I answer on the quizzes?
@PixelPlex: You should answer as many as you can figure out! Solving more questions can only help your application.
To make the camp, I'm assuming there is a type of examination or quiz?
Yep! See http://www.mathcamp.org/prospectiveapplicants/
Does it cost to apply?
No, it's free to apply.
Is there any difference in early and regular admission, for example will spaces fill up faster for early admission due to a quota?
Does the personal essay count towards getting into camp?
Yep, we use your whole application - Quiz, essay, recommendation letters, and math background - to get a picture of you as a student and as a person we might get to spend the summer with. Everything counts!
If I finish my application by the early decision deadline, but one of my recommendation letters do not come in by the 17th, will i be put in the regular action pool?
You should encourage your recommendation letter-writers to get their letters in on time, but we're not robots - talk to us if there's a special case.
should the qualifying quiz be in latex or is handwritten ok?
Handwritten is okay! Just scan it and send us a PDF.
Do more people apply early or regular?
We offer an early deadline in case people want an early decision: e.g. because they are applying to other programs that have similar deadlines, or need to get started on a visa / plane ticket as an international student. Most students take the extra month to work on the Quiz.
but if people are admitted earlier, then won't their be less space for people in the regular date
We try to keep the admissions rate consistent across the season.
Can answer half of a question and put it on my solutions? ie. do part a but not b
@pierre11134: Yes! We'll award partial credit for any ideas that go toward solving the problem.
Is it fine if my essay is a bit large (i.e. 1000+ words)
Sure. Most applicants will keep it to a page, but feel free to express your ideas at their natural length.
is the early deadline at 11:59 pacific or eastern time?
Central time, actually.
Who grades the application?
@hliu70: The applications are graded by current and former Mathcamp staff, precisely the people who know what makes a student qualified for Mathcamp!
So since I qualified via USAMTS, do I still need to write an essay and get recommendation letters?
Re-addmission is guaranteed, right?
@E: Yes! The only way to qualify is to apply. (Even if you're a top scorer on a competition.)
how is the Quiz scored? like on what scale?
We don't release quiz scores; the only feedback you'll get is whether or not we accept you. We typically release solutions, so you can check afterward which parts you got and which parts you didn't.
We sometimes run Math Jams here to discuss the Quiz solutions (past examples: http://www.mathcamp.org/prospectiveapplicants/quiz/solutions.php).
So I need to write an essay and get recommendations?
If I get deferred to regular action, would I be able to submit another solution or two for the qualifying quiz if I solve them?
In fact, yes. So, for context: During early admissions, we make decisions of “admitted” and “not admitted” for almost all the applicants, but we do hold onto some candidates (“defer”) whose applications we'd like to see in a broader context, and defer them to regular admissions and give a decision when we see the whole pool.
If we ask you to wait until the Regular Action season for a decision, then we will offer the option of reopening your application so that you can edit it (e.g. to update your Quiz), since you are now essentially applying at the same time as the Regular Action candidates. Since students usually apply early for a good reason (that is, they need to hear back from us sooner rather than later), we use this option sparingly.
Can my personal recommendation letter be written by a teacher who monitors a club that I lead?
is it suggested to bring a computer?
what is the acceptance rate of the camp?
I expect it will be about 15% this year.
do you grade relatively harshly for nontrivial progress for the quiz (like with Olympiads) or more like the usamts
@AMN300: We give credit for partial solutions; I'd like to say that we're more generous than typical Olympiad scoring. If you have some ideas but not a full solution for a problem, tell us about it!
@a, it will be useful, but a lot of camp actually happens offline.
Is that 15% rate included alumni?
Alumni are (mostly) guaranteed readmission, so that's just for new students.
if our proof is not rigorous but more qualitative, for example we find a pattern, are we allowed to use the patterns we find
Do you have to be a top scorer in a competition to attend? i.e. Does a bad competition score detract from the application?
Not at all! Many of our students have never done a competition before.
@chessinfinity, you should certainly include patterns you observe, though to get full credit you will usually need to prove that your patterns are correct.
What's the quiz website again?
Is it encouraged to look up ideas for solving homework problems or encouraged to come up with the inspiration independently by struggling through it with peers?
At camp, working together on homework is very much encouraged. On the qualifying quiz, we expect your solutions to be your own.
are there quizzes at the camp? or is it just lessons?
We don't have grades or exams at camp, though there is a weekly team problem solving competition.
What documentations do you need for financial aid application?
At the time of registration, we ask for your family's most recent tax return (or equivalent).
do you get to select your own teams?
No, though you can for relays.
Is there a minimum income necessary for financial aid eligibility? How much are your family's circumstances taken into account?
There's no explicit minimum. We work with each family of an admitted student who requests aid to make sure that every qualified student can come to camp. We definitely take special cirucmstances into account.
how many questions do we usually have to get to get in?
will answering only 4 out of the 6 questions negatively effect my chances of gaining acceptance?
how many admission quiz questions do applicants who get in normally do?
There isn't a good answer to this. The bar for admission changes from year to year, different parts of different questions have different weights, and we give partial credit for answers that make progress but aren't correct.
The best strategy for the Quiz is to write solutions for all the problems you solved and show us your progress for all the problems that you tried
in the qualifying quiz, if i have already completely solved a problem, then is it ok to show some additional thoughts (that helped me to lead to the solution, or some more detail that was skipped in my formal solution) after the formal solution is shown? The reason i ask is because i dont want to diminish the elegance of my solution by adding too much detail and background thoughts, yet on the other hand its a dilemma to not put in enough detail for fear of making the solution too brief so that
There is nothing wrong with a bare-bones solution if it's 100% rigorous and correct. However, in our experience, many students are not very good at judging their own solutions: we often get applicants who think they've solved a problem completely, when in fact they have barely scratched the surface. For this reason, it may be in your interest to provide us with some of the background to your "bare-bones" solution: this background might show us that you had some good insights, maybe even pointing in the right direction, while the final solution will only tell us that you didn't get there.
how do you have space for new comers if people who have gone before are getting in no matter what and the other people leaving are 12th graders
@pierre, not everyone is able to come back. We have a cap on the number of alums that can return, but we've never reached it.
how many people go in total?
Camp is usually between 110 and 120 students.
Can you go more in-depth into financial aid? About how much (on average) does a Mathcamper from a medium-income household pay to go?
About what income level tends to get significant financial aid?
There's a chart for estimation here: http://www.mathcamp.org/prospectiveapplicants/scholarships.php
do you "grade" our solutions, like give points out of 7 or something and use that?
Yep, solutions are graded, though different problems are worth different numbers of points sometimes.
what are the chances of getting in if we make progress on all the problems?
how many questions do we have to solve in order to get in (on average)
Hard to say, for both. But remember that the Qualifying Quiz is not a math contest: your ultimate goal is not to maximize your score but to show us, through your solutions, how you think about math.
16/NB: I received reference letter from teacher. Is it possible to upload the scanned pdf of the reference letter?
You can have your teacher transmit the recommendation through our online system (recommended), or they can send it to us directly. Applicants can't sumbit their own recommendation letters, though.
Okay! Thanks for all the great questions about the application process.
The field is open for any questions about Mathcamp, and we’ll wrap up at 9pm ET.
so should we include all insights, motivation, and dead ends on a solution or should we just do a standard Olympiad-style writeup
@AMN300: If you don't have a full solution, showing us insights and motivations will help your score. If you thought of something particularly clever and want to include it, please do!
Is there wifi/do we need to bring ethernet cables?
Yep, there's wifi.
What percentages would you weigh the Qualifying Quiz, the application, personal statement and recommendations be on the final outcome?
That's internal admissions committee politics. Let me just say: every component counts, but the Quiz is the central piece, so that's where we recommend you start.
is this for mosp?
Nope, it's not aimed at mosp
@epiclucario: Some students have done things like this in the past. We generally encourage students to only push themselves as hard as they want to; you're not doing camp wrong if you decide to drop a class in order to socialize more!
If one were to do 3 or 4 Mathcamp classes a week, would they still have time for an AoPS class and time to socialize?
How would you compare this camp to, say, the one in MIT?
You mean RSI? Mathcamp is broader in focus. At RSI, you work on a research project. At Mathcamp, you *can* work on a research project, but you can also do lots of other (academic and non-academic) things.
if you aren't sure whether you can go this year (for reasons outside of our control), could we still apply?
how many people grade / evaluate each quiz? just one, or more?
It's a big committee.
How many students do you accept
We typically admit about 75 new students per year.
Freya/15/CA: How is the homework structured? (e.g. PSets, class overleaf document, etc.) Do the classes have exams?
@Freya: Most classes will hand out an optional homework set in paper each day in class. After classes end for the day, there's a two hour period called TAU where all of the instructors hold office hours. Lots of students camp out near a few of their teachers and work on the problem sets with other students for most of this time.
There are no exams at Mathcamp
How much higher math (like group theory, lin. alg) would the 'average' mathcamp student know (for taking the courses)?
Very few classes, if any, will collect and grade homework assignments
I would say that most students don't come in knowing group theory or linear algebra, but most alums will have some exposure to them (and some new students as well). There will be classes on both group theory and linear algebra at camp.
So 15% of new students get in?
On the application, it says "(We give returning applicants special consideration.)" Does that mean those that apply one year but get rejected have a better chance the next year?
Yes! Applying to Mathcamp takes a lot of time and persistence; applying twice, doubly so. We're always impressed when people apply more than once. People do sometimes get in on their second or third try, and I'm always excited when that happens.
how can a committee grade a quiz? do you project the solution on a projector with the committee looking at it together?
Do Mathcampers ever get homesick over the 5 weeks? That's a long time
Some people do get homesick. I personally got "campsick" when I got home after my first Mathcamp.
We grade it individually a number of times, then talk about it afterward.
If we get accepted into this camp, by what date would you want confirmation that we can attend (ex. if we applied to both this camp and HCSSiM)
May 20th is the registration deadline (for students admitted during both early and regular seasons).
Or is it that one person looks at a particular problem for multiple quiz submissions? something like USAMTS grading?
Yes, this too. Each person grading will focus on one problem at a time.
Would you say that Mathcamp is more or less selective than PROMYS?
I don't know what PROMYS's admission rate is right now, actually.
If someone doesn't go, do you give admission to the next person in line?
What level is this math camp? Is it like AIME level, AMC 10 level, USA(J)MO Level, or USAMO level?
It's a little more complicated than that - the waitlist isn't ordered. We're looking at the whole composition of the student body when selecting students.
@WSun: There are problem solving classes, which vary in scope, but most of the classes at Mathcamp are focused on theory-building rather than solving contest problems.
So in my application, is there some place where I can say that since I was in the top 30 males in USAMTS, I do not have to work on the "Quiz Solutions" part of my application?
No, that's not true: no matter how you did on USAMTS, you have to do the Quiz if you want to come to Mathcamp.
August/16/WA: Can you give us detail about the research project we *could* do at mathcamp?
See http://www.mathcamp.org/2015/academics/ProjectBlurbs.pdf for the projects that were proposed last year.
Are there any math assessments, competitions and contests during the camp besides the Sunday relays?
i heard that some people who made at least significant progress on all the problems got rejected last year. is this true?
Alas, we end up having to turn away lots of great students - there are way more talented applicants than we have spots for!
@addisonxyz: There's also an Olympiad style team contest every wednesday
@addisonzxy Also, there's puzzle hunt
What speed is the math in Mathcamp done at?(e.g. fast-paced, slow-paced)
is admission need blind?
For domestic applicants, yes.
Classes have chili ratings, which are based on a mix of pace and level of mathematical experience we expect.
When does the camp start?
does the food contain chili?
Can you order pizza?
is there an ice rink for skaters to practice on?
Maybe as a field trip!
But chili ratings are just a measure of pace for each class, not based on actual spiciness.
is there ping pong there?
Is there any required level of mathematical understanding or do you just have to be within 7th-12th grade?
do we have to pay for pizza?
The only mathematical requirement is to do well on the Qualifying Quiz.
@Anonymous, yes, unless it's coming back from a hike where we miss dinner.
Ah - that, plus Precalculus.
Oh yeah, we go hiking most weekends.
Ahhh contra dancing.... That's an interesting ride.
Here's one for the alums:
what was ur most memorable event/activity at mathcamp? (just curious )
is there an available pool?
Yes, there's usually a pool available at some hours.
question, which airport should we travel there?
Is there a lot mosquito there?
See http://www.mathcamp.org/parents/arrivalsanddepartures.php for travel info.
@moowoof, there are some, but not as bad as Minnesota or Alaska.
what is the temperature usually like during the 5 weeks?
Thanks for the help!
It's very pleasant, actually - usually 70s - 80s during the day, cool at night.
A serious question here: Is the food specifically marked "gluten-free?" I got nailed last summer at a weekend summer camp because the breakfast sausages had gluten binders in them.
YES. We're very careful about this.
Will there be a store to buy food, drinks, or everyday items?
Probably when we had to pretend to be cats to get problems.
what if you've attended mathpath
There are lots of MathPath alums around. You'll see some familiar faces.
What do we do the most there?
Where is Mathcamp held?
@sohappy: The only thing that *everybody* does a lot of at camp is math, but people also do lots of other fun things, like playing sports, board games, going off-campus, etc. You have a lot of personal freedom in deciding how you want to spend your time.
Is it possible to become a JC at Mathcamp even if you don't attend as a camper?
Mathcamp's at Colby College in Maine this summer
...but if you go to math grad school later, you can become a Mentor!
Okay, everybody - time to wrap up. Thanks for spending your evening with us! Lots of great questions.
If we didn't get to your question, feel free to email email@example.com and we'll be happy to continue the conversation. (You can also post questions in the Mathcamp forum here on AoPS, at http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/community/c135_mathcamp - the Mathcamp staff will post replies, and you'll get student opinions, too!
Thank you for the math jam
Thank you very much!
Looking forward to meeting some of you this summer!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR YOUR TIME! I'm sure that you taste better than Smoked Gouda cheese from Costco.
16/NB: Thank you!
Hope to see you there! ;)
Thank you all for joining us, and a big thanks to Marisa, Jalex, Yulia, and David!
Thanks again, everybody - good night!
uh... do we leave?
yay you all should come to mathcamp! i went in 2015 and it was great
everyone go to mathcamp!
Yeah, we're done.
In case you missed/forgot the link – if you're interested in applying for Mathcamp, you can find the qualifying quiz for Mathcamp at www.mathcamp.org/quiz
If you have further questions for Mathcamp, you can contact them via the email address above (firstname.lastname@example.org) or at www.mathcamp.org/contact.php.
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