Mathcamp Math JamGo back to the Math Jam Archive
Marisa Debowsky, Canada/USA Mathcamp's Executive Director, 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.
And what's this Math Jam about? Canada/USA Mathcamp, an intensive five-week-long summer program for high-school students interested in mathematics, which is designed to expose students to the beauty of advanced mathematical ideas and to new ways of thinking.
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! (I went to Mathcamp three times, from 2007 to 2009 )
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) is the Executive Director of Mathcamp. She's been teaching Topological Graph Theory and singing pop songs at Mathcamp every summer since 2006.
Kevin Carde (KevinCarde) is the Assistant Director and CTO of Mathcamp. He's been teaching Algebraic Combinatorics and playing piano at Mathcamp every summer since 2011.
(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! Thanks as always to @rrusczyk, @LauraZed and the AoPS team for hosting us.
Kevin (@KevinCarde) and I are here to talk about Mathcamp 2020, both the program and the application process. (You've got a captive audience with admissions officers, so this is a great chance to get ready for application season.)
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.
This is going to be fun
I hope so!
So, Mathcamp: it's a 5-week residential math summer program. This year, it runs Sunday, July 5 through Sunday, August 9, and takes place at Champlain College in Burlington, Vermont.
Really really frequently asked questions (RRFAQ), to get them out of the way:
Who comes to Mathcamp? We have 120 students per year, from all over the world. It's about 65 new campers and 55 returning alumni per year. The last two years have been 45–50% girls, 50–55% boys, with a few non-binary students.
How old do you have to be to join Mathcamp?
What are the age limits for Mathcamp?
It's for students ages 13 - 18.
And middle school as well
cant 8 graders also do it
Yep, middle schoolers are welcome to apply, starting at age 13.
Is it ok if I'm younger?
Can you be younger but still join?
can I still apply if I am 12
I am going to turn 13 in July, is it recommended to apply?
What of you are in middle school and are 13?
so can 6th grade do it
what abt 7 graders
Lots of younger inquirers this time! We are pretty firm about the lower age limit: we have only once made an exception for a 12-year-old.
Younger students should consider MathPath, which is a great program for students ages 11 – 14: http://www.mathpath.org .
More RRFAQ about Mathcamp:
What kind of math? All kinds. A cool thing about Mathcamp is that we offer about 150 classes and projects over the course of a single summer, and you have complete freedom to design your own curriculum.
What else happens? During the evenings and on the weekends, there are a zillion (ish) activities happening, and you choose how to spend your time.
That flexibility and creativity – academic and nonacademic – are the defining characteristics of Mathcamp.
How do I get in? Admission is competitive. (We expect to admit 10 - 15% of the applicants.) The two main ingredients are the Qualifying Quiz and your personal essay. You'll also submit recommendation letters and some short answers about your math background. For more info, see https://www.mathcamp.org/quiz/ and https://www.mathcamp.org/essay/ .
When do I apply? The deadline to apply is a few weeks away: March 12th, 2020. (All applications received by the deadline get equal consideration, so there's no advantage to applying early.)
Scholarships? Yes! Every student (US, Canadian, & International; new and returning) is eligible for financial aid, and we have a large scholarship budget: everybody who needs financial aid will receive it. About 25% of our students receive full scholarships, and we can even buy you a plane ticket.
Alrighty, enough of me talking: let's shift gears! We want to get to as many of your questions as possible.
Kevin and I would like to meet *you* along with your question (we talk to students and families a lot by email, and this is a chance for us to talk with you in realtime!), so here's a suggested format:
Name / Age / Location: Question
Alicia / 14 / Elmhurst: Do we celebrate birthdays during Mathcamp?
Fredo / Parent / Mexico : Where can we mail care packages?
(But that format is not mandatory - in keeping with the spirit of Mathcamp, just about everything is optional, and we'll do our best to answer your questions in any format.)
Okay, ready? Let's spend about now until 8:15 ET 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.)
Why does nobody ever write CT. People only state PT and ET, I know we should do math but still.
Very reasonable question.
what's the age distribution?
On the first day of Mathcamp 2019, there were:
0 campers age 13
15 campers age 14
18 campers age 15
39 campers age 16
34 campers age 17
22 campers age 18
0 campers age 19
(It is relatively unusual not to have any 13-year-olds, but it does sometimes happen. I believe that a student turned 19 at camp.)
what is the standard deviation of ages?
Exercise for the reader.
do the session dates stay about the same year to year or do they vary? And do you have any idea what the location could be next summer (not the coming summer)
The program always runs five weeks, from a Sunday to a Sunday, but can shift earlier or later by a week or two.
Location TBA for 2021, but we're looking at some Rocky Mountain and Pacific Northwest options.
Do you know the exact date when it starts?
I do! We start July 5th this year, and camp goes until August 9.
What is the locatio coming summer
We're at Champlain College in Burlington, VT.
What does it mean by on the first day?
(On July 5th.)
What's the daily schedule look like?
This is a hard question to ask, because you get to set your own schedule– that's a key feature of Mathcamp– and so it varies a lot from person to person.
Here's a summary of a typical day, though: https://www.mathcamp.org/about_mathcamp/typical_day_at_mathcamp/
Kevin Zhao / 15 / Lexington, MA: What time do classes generally run? From 9 to 5?
What's the geographic distribution?
Our students are about 75% US, 5-10% Canadian, and 10-15% from other countries.
You can see a list of home countries here: https://www.mathcamp.org/about_mathcamp/students/
Kevin / 12 / New York: are your mathcamps usually @ colleges
How will you teach for the different age groups?
How many classes does an average student take in the five weeks?
are there like different classes to choose from?
Are there mini-classes in this camp?
What do you teach or what do we do
What are some examples of things that we do there, and how do the classes work?
Every Mathcamp has a different class schedule, but the classes always come from a range of topics appropriate to a range of different mathematical backgrounds. Many classes will have no prerequisites (other than high-school algebra or precalculus); others will require some pretty intense knowledge of advanced mathematics. (Though almost always, the appropriate prerequisites will be offered as Mathcamp classes earlier in camp!) The result is that you can fill a schedule that works for you and your math background, whatever it may be. To get a sense of the variety of class offerings, take a look at last year's class schedule and descriptions: https://www.mathcamp.org/2019/classes/
kwuwu/14/M Are the classes on later weeks based on ones from earlier weeks?
What kind of math topics do you need to learn to be at Mathcamp?
Which classes are hardest?
Sometimes the classes do build on topics from week to week!
The prerequisite for applying is to first finish Precalculus. And there are lots of classes at Mathcamp that will be accessible to you if you're in the summer between Precalc and starting Calculus.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are some *really* challenging classes aimed at students who have already taken lots of college math classes.
what is the most popular class
Wow, great question. Lately, Group Theory has been really popular? In past years, Combinatorial Game Theory was huge.
Alums, feel free to chime in.
How much hours of math a day do you do
What is the hardest class
Hypothetically, you *could* take a class every hour (e.g. 9 - 9:50, 10 - 10:50...), and some campers choose to. Generally, though, we encourage you to take a break at some point so you don't get overloaded (and to have some time to think about and absorb the math in the classes you do take).
What is the hardest class to *you* will depend on your background and interests!
What are the concepts that will be taught?
We're doing our hiring right now (at the same time as camper application season!), and then our instructors will start designing their classes and shaping them into a full schedule. Typically, the list of the summer's courses gets finalized in June. Since the classes change from year to year, returning students always have something new to explore!
What classes do 1st years usually take?
There's always one class that covers basic Proof Techniques, and others will cover core introductory material that other Mathcamp classes often use as prerequisites, like Graph Theory, Group Theory, Linear Algebra, and Number Theory - those are often popular for new students. These introductory classes are often the starting point for what we call "clusters," collections of courses on core topics in pure math, like Algebra, Analysis, Combinatorics, and Topology.
How do courses work? It looks like there are four time slots per week that change for each week; do we have to choose a different course every time, and does every time slot have to have a course?
Before each week starts, you'll get a schedule and descriptions of all the upcoming classes: usually it's 4 or 5 options per hour, in each of the 4 or 5 hour-long class blocks of the day. You'll then have a chance to meet with your Academic Advisor (a staff member with whom you're paired at the start of camp - see https://www.mathcamp.org/math/academic_advising/ ) to discuss what you want to take. Every week, you get to repeat this process: reflect on the previous week, decide what you want to do for the upcoming week, and pick the classes you think you'll want to take.
Not every time slot has to have a course! Time off is encouraged.
Kaylee/14/NH: Do we have TAs or mentors to help with concepts?
kwuwu/14/MD : Do most mathcampers also succeed in math contests?
It varies WIDELY. Some campers are very serious about competition math; others never do any contests.
How many classes do most campers choose to take?
I think 3/week is pretty standard.
Do you have syllabus for last year's classes online?
We do have descriptions: https://www.mathcamp.org/2019/classes/ (see the PDF)
will the mentors be available during free time???
Classes are strict, right? As in if you sign up for something you have to take it
No, actually, you can switch classes! You don't have to formally register for classes, so if you decide after the first day of a class that you'd rather do something else, you can just go to a different class on the next day. It's a little like how add/drop works in college: you can test out classes and see what you like. The instructors will be happy to chat with you in office hours if you missed the first day of a class but want to catch up and then join on the second day.
Alex / 14 / St. Louis, MO: What do the chili symbols mean on the Schedule?
It's a spiciness scale - one chili pepper means mild, which is intended to convey "accessible to all Mathcampers". Four chili peppers means spicy, which means it will be fast-paced and perhaps require a lot of background.
How spicy the class is?
is there "homework" for classes
Yes, in a way. Since doing math is often the best way to learn math, many classes will hand out problems at the end of each day. Sometimes, these problems will introduce new definitions or concepts, and you absolutely need to keep up with the homework to keep up with the class. For most classes, though, the homework falls somewhere on the scale between optional and recommended: it's a good way to reinforce the material, but not necessarily mission-critical. (Each class will indicate how important the homework is to understanding the material, so you'll get to take this into account when designing your class schedule.)
how long will the homework take
It varies! Most students spend 1-3 hours on homework per day.
How much homework will you guys assign us
Well, we *offer* lots of interesting homework, but it's up to you how much to do. Homework at camp is not like typical high-school math homework: it's never boring! So hopefully you will want to work on your problem sets outside of class, regardless of whether it's necessary to keep up.
are there any classes without homework?
J/12/PA: Can you work on the homework in groups? Is any of the work collaborative?
Yes! Lots of math is done collaboratively (both at camp and in real-life-research), as it often helps to talk through problems. So if you want to work together with other campers (or even your teachers!), you absolutely can find collaborators. On the flip side, plenty of students like to focus on their own when learning and working through new material. Like almost everything at Mathcamp, it's up to you!
What happens if you fail/mess up a class?
There's no such thing as failing at camp! But *every* student should experience being lost in a math class sometimes - it's good to feel like you're being productively challenged.
will each class vary in ages? Or is it just by what "Subject" of math
Everybody chooses what classes they want to go to, and we don't sort students at all by age.
who will be course instructors, professors or college students?
In between those two options. Most instructors are graduate students in math.
Eric Chen / 13 / Acton, MA: are there "grades" for classes?
Are there classes on weekends?
Not formal classes: the evenings and weekends are reserved for recreational activities.
Are there tests that we have to do in classes?
Avi/13/Wisconsin Does it change locations or is it always the same?
We move around from year to year. You can see the list of past locations here: https://www.mathcamp.org/past_summers/
When do campers usually sleep?
Kevin Zhao / 15 / Lexington, MA: What time do we have to wake up?
There's no official wake-up (or lights out, for that matter): as with everything at camp, you're in charge. You decide when you want to wake up, and you're in charge of setting an alarm. At 9am, breakfast in the dining hall ends and the first classes of the day begin, so those are good times to keep in mind when deciding what you'd like your morning routine to look like.
what time will do we go to bed? Later than 9?
when is bedtime? how are the meals? where are the dorms
We don't have an official camp curfew; again, like everything else at camp, you decide when you're ready to go to sleep. We do, however, have some systems set up to make sure everybody gets the sleep they need. One of our dorm buildings has quiet hours beginning at 10pm; the others have quiet hours beginning at midnight. To help you support you in making good decisions about when to go to sleep: on weeknights, all the social lounges close at midnight (at which point you need to be in a dorm room rather than a common space, and just be sure that you're not keeping anybody else awake who is sleeping).
what will be there for breakfast
I don't know exactly! But our breakfast is in the dining hall, and like all of our meals, there's usually a big variety of options.
How is the food
I hear it's good! But this is our first summer at Champlain, so I'm not an authority yet.
will there be vegan, vegetarian options?
Is it vegetarian friendly
Yes! I'm a vegetarian, so it has to be.
Is the campus generally crowded*
No, it'll be pretty quiet over the summer. There are a few other academic programs on campus at Champlain with us, but it'll be quieter than usual.
Jason Kim/14/Camas, WA: How many people a room?
How many people stay in each room?
how many people are usually to a dorm room
We will have a mix of singles, doubles, and I believe a few triples.
Do you guys sort dorms by age?
do we pick our dorms or are they assigned?
We do assign dorm rooms, and they are generally sorted by age (at least roommmates are paired up of similar ages).
What about roommates?
Kevin Zhao / 15 / Lexington, MA: Is there space in the dorms for our own body pillows?
Kevin Zhao / 15 / Lexington, MA: Can I request a triple?
Are they randomly chosen?
You can request a triple! And you can bring your favorite pillow, of course.
Kevin Zhao / 15 / Lexington, MA: Can I request a roommate?
First, you're matched by age and gender. Then we send a questionnaire to our admitted students (it's part of registration) to get info about second-order considerations: how tidy do you prefer to keep your room? Do you like to have friends hang out in your room in the evenings, or use your room as quiet study space? What time do you like to go to bed and get up? And: which of these things is most important to you? You also have the option to request to have specific roommates (which we'll honor if they request you in return, so coordinate in advance!) or to avoid specific roommates (which we'll always honor). We offer options for both single-gender and mixed-gender halls.
How many girls are usually in the camp, percentage wise?
Girls are about 45-50% of camp.
What about laundry and stuff
Yes! There are laundry rooms. (And campers do their own laundry.)
Are the restrooms clean?
Will there be an option to ask for no roommate?
do we have to have roommates?
We do have some single dorm rooms, and you can request a single.
are restrooms shared?
There's actually a really nice setup this year – there are some shared restrooms, but the configuration offers a lot of privacy. There are also single-user bathrooms.
can we have sleepovers?
Are there gathering areas in rooms?
There are gathering areas in the dorms! (But dorm rooms are just rooms.)
will the students need to have cell phones?
Are we allowed to use smart phones at any time?
Yes, students are encouraged to bring cell phones to camp so they can call home! (There are no rules about cell phone use, but it would be considered very rude to use a phone for non-math purposes during class.)
Are the schoolrooms and dorms far away?
Eric Chen /13/ Acton, MA: How far will we need to walk each day?
Champlain has a very compact campus, so it's only a few minutes from the dorms to the classrooms and the dining hall.
Kevin Zhao / Lexington, MA / 15: Are there all gender restrooms?
Yes! (In particular, there are nonbinary students and staff.)
do we get mail once and a while
Yes! We encourage you to encourage your friends and family to send you mail. You can send them mail, too!
Do we have an option to leave campus and purchase things during like the break times>
Can we bring laptops?
Yes! We recommend it if you have one.
What do you do on weekends
clairin xzhuoo / 13/ M what type of non-math activities are popular
There are *all* sorts of activities on weekends – basically, if you can think of it, we have it at Mathcamp. Sports, music, dance, hiking, bookstore trips, amusement parks, laser tag, baking, cooking, walking around downtown – you name it.
or internet around campus?
Is there internet in the dorm rooms?
Yes and yes.
Kevin Zhao: Lexington, MA / 15: What is the policy of watching anime in the classrooms?
Not during class.
Is there a piano on campus?
What sports are offered?
Both campers and staff will organize games – basketball has been popular recently, and also Capture the Flag. Frisbee is a perennial favorite.
will we need to bring laundry detergent
No, we will supply laundry detergent.
are there events during the camp for which we should pack specific clothing?
Here's the packing list: https://www.mathcamp.org/current_program/what_to_bring/
Some students like to bring clothes appropriate for hiking. Others like to pack something a little fancier in case they feel like getting dressed up with their friends.
Jason Kim/14/Camas, WA: Will we need to bring coins? (my brother went to a different camp, but he needed coins for laundry)
No, we will provide that.
Do we need to bring sleeping bag?
No, actually, linens are included this year.
Is there a drum set on campus?
I do not know, but I will find out for you. Send us an email after the Jam: email@example.com .
Are we allowed to bring instruments with us to the camp? (e.g. guitar, violin, etc.)
Will there be spaces where we can practice an instrument?
Yes! You are welcome (even encouraged) to bring instruments. We have reserved a rehearsal room for practicing.
is there a guitar?
Yes, at least one or two.
Eric Chen/ 13/ Acton, MA: Could I play an instrument during break/free time? Would my roommates kill me?
Yes, you can set your own schedule! You and your roommates might want to work out when it's cool to practice in the room and when it's better to go to the rehearsal space.
Are there violins?
Is there a violin or will we have to bring one?
Can I learn instruments during camp?
at Ross playing an intruemnt was allowed
We do not generally provide violins. Bring yours!
Are pranks allowed?
is there a piano for practice?
Thanks for all the questions about the program, everybody!
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.)
what is the application process
It starts with the Qualifying Quiz and an essay! Here's a summary of the process: https://www.mathcamp.org/admission/how_to_apply/
Can we talk about the application process?
Is there a suggestion math level?
We ask that you complete Precalculus before you come to Mathcamp. (The AoPS class counts!)
Saumya Singhal /15/California: what do you look for in an application? (e.g. balanced, focused, hardworking, ...)
Ooh, great question, and the answer is "all of the above." We're looking for students who we think would be a good fit for our program – in particular, the flexibility of the academic and non-academic offerings.
Kevin Zhao / 15 / Lexington, MA: Would more people be accepted if more outstanding people apply?
Alas, no: we have a fixed number of spots.
Julia/13/NY: Do we need to provide a grade transcript?
No, we do not require a transcript.
Is precalc at school ok
If you haven't formally completed a class on Precalculus but have studied it on your own time and have a strong understanding on it is that ok?
What if you are self-taught in precalculus?
As long as you're very comfortable with the material, that's what we're looking for.
what do you look for in an application essay?
What will be on this personal essay?
Linus / 13 / San Jose, CA:
1. Is there a recommended length for the application essay?
The essays can be any length! We have some prompts for writing, here: https://www.mathcamp.org/admission/personal_essay/ ...but you can write about anything that you think makes your case
and what we're looking for is – well, just getting to know you as a person! The Quiz is our way to learn about you mathematically; the Essay is a chance for you to talk directly to the admissions committee and tell us about yourself.
Saumya/15/California: what have been some of the best application essays you have seen and why
Kind of like a personal essay on a college application?
Kind of like a college essay, yes. Essays can be on any topic! We got on once that was a puzzle. Sometimes they're stories or poems.
does the essay affect your admission?
Yes, everything counts!
Linus / 13 / California :
Can the second recommendation letter be written by your band teacher at school?
That could be a good fit for a personal recommender, especially if you've interacted with your band teacher outside of the classroom – on band trips, for example.
(Extra especially if you have a leadership role in band and they can speak to that!)
So the personal essay doesn't have to be an actual essay?
Yuchen Li/15/Washington Do we need letters of recommendation?
Yes, two letters: one mathematical and one character reference. See https://www.mathcamp.org/admission/recommendations/ for more details.
So if you're an officer for student council, the student council advisor would be a good personal recommender?
Jackson Gish / 15 / California: Is there a recommended length for the personal essay?
Try to keep it to a page?
what if you cant answer the application questions?
How much questions on the quiz are solved on average if they get in?
How would you grade the qualifying quiz, and is there a minimum score to qualify?
Around how many quiz questions does the average accepted person answer?
Are you guys looking for elegant and creative solutions in the problem set?
So, these are hard questions to answer, because the Quiz varies from year to year, and so do the Quiz solutions we see. In broad strokes: most successful applicants do try every or almost every question, and make significant progress on several. But you'll find anecdotal evidence on all of the extremes: we have admitted students who solved only a few Quiz problems, and not admitted students with very strong Quizzes.
We are indeed always happy to see elegant and creative solutions! (But sometimes you have to bash something, and that's okay, too.)
Do you have a favorite quiz problem?
Ooh! I kinda like the fortuitous sequences problem, myself.
14/NC: is it ok if I get my academic letter from a 16 year old who's taught me or does it have to be an adult?
The recommender should be an adult.
Can the essay be art
If you think this is the best way to convince us to admit you, then sure!
Do you provide feedback for unsuccessful applicants?
Alas, there are too many applicants and too few of us. We can't provide individual feedback.
can it be a parent recommendation
No, recommendations can not come from a family member.
can u throw more light on criteria for selection with solving only few problems and strong quizzes
What we're trying to read out of the Quiz is a little bit between the lines of the actual solutions: it's an understanding of the author's mathematical maturity. So if you demonstrate that in your solutions to a few problems, then that's great. (But don't just try a few and then stop! We really encourage everybody to try all the problems.)
Are scholarships need-based?
Yes, all of our financial aid is need-based.
What’s the general cost of the program overall?
The cost for our 2020 program will be between 0 and $4,500, depending on financial aid.
David Jiang/17/Middleton High school: Is it important that the letter of recommendation be from a current teacher, or can it be a past teacher?
Can the Math recommendation come from an AOPS instructor who has never met me? (I am homeschooled)
Dan Ni / 18 / New York: Can I get a LOR from a coach or sort?
Past teachers, AoPS instructors, and coaches can all be good recommenders.
Eric Chen / 13 / Acton, MA: How is financial aid calculated?
What are some scholarships available?
Kevin Zhao / Lexington, MA / 15: how do i get financial aid?
See https://www.mathcamp.org/admission/scholarships/ for details: the process of applying for financial aid is really straightforward, and it happens at the same time as the application for admission (though first we admit students, and only then do we look at which newly-admitted students will need financial aid).
Do you apply for financial aid, and if so, is there a way to get “rejected”?
We fully meet the demonstrated need of every family.
If you went to Ross or another summer program, would you recommend that they write the recommendation letter? By they I mean the counselor
An instructor / TA from another summer program would be a great recommender.
Are recommendation letters due by the application deadline?
What do you look for in an application?
We're looking for students who are passionate about mathematics, and who we think we really benefit from the curriculum and the community at Mathcamp!
(I know that sounds generic, but I really mean it.)
On the Quiz, do more challenging problems count for more?
Well, not really, because there's no such thing as a grade for the Quiz. Everything counts!
Will stellar contest results make up for a poor Qualifying Quiz?
Contest results aren't a big part of our application process: we focus on the Quiz.
How much does the personal statement affect the application?
how much are letters of recommendation taken into consideration
Is there a deadline to apply for financial aid/scholarships?
When is the deadline for the application?
The deadline for the application - both for admission and financial aid - is March 12th.
David Liu/ 17/ FL: To what extent are we allowed to reuse previous essays we wrote for mathcamp?
You may reuse past application materials! But keep in mind that the essay is a chance to tell us what's up for you lately, so you might want to use that space to update us.
Is this camp more geared towards competition or research?
We have a few competitions for fun, and some students do research, but it's geared towards introducing students to new areas of math that they haven't previously seen.
Julia / 13 / NY: When are admission decisions released?
This year, it's April 15th.
is there acceptance preference put on students who don't apply for financial aid
Not at all: during the admissions process, we won't even know which students have applied for financial aid.
Coby Tran / 16 / Oregon: If you are exceptional in one area of math (NT for example) but really bad in something else like geometry) would you be able to express this on the quiz? Will it affect our chances of getting in?
The Quiz has all kinds of different problems, so in the areas where you feel most comfortable, you can shine!
Are there any limits on how many people at one school/city/state get in?
Peter/18/Maryland: What's the best approach to starting/tackling one of the quiz problems? What if we just can't figure them out?
Tough question, and a good one. I mean, sometimes, I just can't solve a math problem, you know? But these are designed for you to be able to crack them eventually, and one of the reasons that the Quiz is untimed is so you can sit with them.
Does being a returning applicant have any impact?
We do take it as a sign of motivation when students apply more than once!
Has anyone ever (correctly) solved all the quiz problems
If you have trouble on 1 question, but you do good on everything else, can you still make the camp? Or are there enough people that get perfect on the test?
Saumya/15/California: do you give equal consideration to a stellar incomplete solution (like if we can't solve it) VS a complete solution?
Partial credit counts! It is very rare to see a perfect solution set.
Penz Ive/16/Wayzata what is the acceptance rate?
Around 10-15%, usually.
Does being an international student influence acceptance?
We like having international students at camp! But the acceptance rate is about the same across the board.
How many people apply usually?
It REALLY depends on how tough the Quiz is. But usually somewhere around 400 - 500.
How many spots are there at camp?
We usually enroll 65 new campers per year.
Okay! Thanks, everybody, for all the questions about the application process.
The field is open for *any* questions you have about Mathcamp, and we'll wrap up at 9pm ET.
what percent of campers are musicians?
Lots! Tons. Most?
Can I apply if I am about to turn 18?
Do we need teacher recommendations?
Dan Ni / 18 / New York: Are seniors allowed to go this summer? Or is it only for rising high schoolers?
Seniors are welcome to apply (for summer after senior year)!
If we handwrite solutions, where should we be writing our mathcamp sol id number
Anywhere in the header is fine! Just as long as it's clear to the reader.
How contest focused is Mathcamp?
There are two weekly problem-solving competitions at camp, and both are team competitions. (Participation, like everything else at camp, is optional!) More about problem solving at camp: https://www.mathcamp.org/math/problem_solving/
Do your AoPS course grades weigh in on your application/does mathcamp admissions look at them?
When you apply to Mathcamp, we don't ask for transcripts or standardized test scores (because we don't think they will help us to predict which applicants are ready for Mathcamp classes). Instead, we use the Quiz and your academic recommendation letter to give us a picture of your preparation.
Will I have time to take an online summer course while at camp?
This is a tough question. Hypothetically, the answer is absolutely yes: you set your own schedule, so you can make time to work on outside-of-camp projects. That said, camp is very busy, and you'll find that it's hard to tear yourself away from other activities.
Flus Hed/16/Kansas Is there a fitness room there?
Ben Hu / 16(?) / New Jorsy: Can I bring a buzzer set to camp?
does the middle school camp MathPath feed into Mathcamp?
Not officially in any way, but we do have a lot of alums from MathPath who come to our program. (Alums from MathPath go to lots of other summer programs in high school, too.)
How big are the dorm rooms?
Pretty standard size: each person has a twin XL bed, a dresser, a desk, a chair...
how many people type their solutions for Quiz instead of hand-write?
Maybe half and half?
How much do campers play board games?
do you have any preference for handwritten or typed solutions?
Nope, whatever's easiest for you is fine – as long as we can read the solutions!
is mathpath basically the exact same thing
I think if you chat with AoPSers, you'll get the impression that there are overlaps, but that the programs are VERY different in feel and style.
If I am attending a competition the first three days of the camp, would I be able to join the camp afterwards?
In general, especially for new students, we prefer students to be able to attend all or almost all of the program: it is designed to be a full five-week experience, and that experience is diminished when students arrive late. That said, we can make exceptions.
Giddeon Tzfareai/ 15 / Lexington: Do we need prior LaTeX experience for camp?
about what percent of math camp has to do with math?
It's pretty equal parts "Math" and "Camp". In the best of all possible worlds, maybe your time is actually divided in thirds: math, and camp, and sleep.
what is the camp website?
which we just overhauled this year, so I hope you like it!
What are the big differences between this and other math camps like AwesomeMath, Sumac, Promys, Ross, etc?
All of the summer math enrichment programs are places where you get to dive into interesting math and meet like-minded peers. You might think of these programs as sorting into three categories -- competition programs (like AwesomeMath), single-focus programs (like PROMYS and Ross, which have a Number Theory curriculum), and broader programs (like HCSSiM and MathILy). Mathcamp is in the 'broad' category.
What makes Mathcamp unusual is the extraordinary amount of academic and personal freedom that students have. You design your own curriculum, you decide how to spend your time.
Akul/12/Texas: is there a minimum age limit? If our contest/quiz scores reflect that we are intellectually capable, will our age have an adverse effect on our accpetance?
Can younger students join too
What is the youngest age of kids that will be at camp?
We invite applications starting at age 13.
(And being young won't be held against you! That said, the standard is the same for everyone, and some of your fellow applicants are 18.)
do you have to bring money to camp
We suggest that folks bring about $100 for spending money if they can. You can always talk to Mathcamp staff if this is an issue for you at camp.
Is there a limit to the number of people in a class?
Since students don't have to register for classes, there are no limits! Some classes are really small – like 5 students – and others are giant, like 50 students. But those extremes are rare; most classes are 12-20 students.
Are there a lot of rising university freshmen that attend Math Camp?
What are the age limits again?
13 - 18.
what if you are homeschooled?
We love homeschoolers!
So many music questions about a math camp
About transportation - what airport do we arrive at if international and/or geographically far enough away to warrant a plane ticket? Will there be shuttles waiting for us who are flying alone?
We do pick up students at the airport! (And bring them back to the airport at the end of camp.) More info here: https://www.mathcamp.org/parents/how_travel_works/
How deep does each class go into its subject?
It *really* varies from class to class: some are surveys, others are a really deep dive into a subject.
Are we allowed to talk to family after classes in some way?
Of course! We strongly encourage people to call home on a regular basis.
do people ever run in the morning before breakfast?
Yes, shockingly often. There are often early-morning running groups.
are we allowed to have snacks other than breakfast, lunch and dinner
Kevin Zhao / 15 / Lexington, MA: Are there computers for student use at camp?
Are there any non-math activities?
Can you do math on weekends?
How serious is the atmosphere? Like really studious, or a lot more relaxed, etc.?
I think it's pretty relaxed, although maybe "intensely relaxed" or "relaxed intensity" or something is a better description: students are generally really engaged and enthusiastic.
Alex/15/Waltham, MA: Is there air conditioning?
Actually, mostly yes: two of our dorms are air-conditioned! (The quainter, quirkier one is not.) And the dining hall and classrooms have A/C.
How many people go?
120 students per year.
were can we go off campus
You can "check out" (there's a system) to go off-campus, and we're right in downtown Burlington, which is a fun place to hang out.
Mikey / 18 / Wisconsin: What kind of food is there on campus? Are there vegetarian options? Gluten free?
Champlain has a very friendly and helpful Dining Hall staff, and they can work with individual students on a case-by-case basis to handle any food allergies.
Their regular offerings include: pizza, grill, salad bar, main dish station ("Euro"), a vegan station, a gluten-free station, and soft-serve ice cream.
In the past, we've been able to accommodate students with strict allergies to peanuts, tree nuts, gluten -- even strictly kosher and halal. And of course there are always vegetarian, vegan, and plain options. All stations label their ingredients.
Mikey / 18 / Wisconsin: Does laundry cost money? Are we able to hand wash our clothes?
Laundry is free. You can hand-wash if you like.
Ash NotTofsnt/16/Idaho: are there camp sponsored activities for exploring the city?
Would there be a way to go to sleep eariler than 10pm?
Yes! You set your own schedule.
How long, like how many days, is each camp?
Can international high school students participate? I'm a junior from India.
is it easy to get from one dorm to the other?
Yes, it's three buildings in a row.
If I want to practice an instrument, is there a place I can do that when not doing math?
will we ever go to a ⛱
Is there an on campus store we can buy food and supplies from?
will you guys provide extra snacks
Yes and Yes.
(Sorry, these answers are getting boring.)
What are the hiking opportunities?
Oh, there's fantastic hiking in Vermont! We'll offer the option to go for a day hike on the first weekend of camp, and probably several more throughout the summer.
will there be field trips?
Yep, every weekend.
Okay, everybody - time to wrap up. Thanks for spending your evening with us!
If we didn't get to your question (and there were 200+ people here, so we didn't get through everything...), feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll be happy to continue the conversation. You can also post questions in the Mathcamp forum here on AoPS; the Mathcamp staff will post replies, and you'll get student opinions, too. Here's the forum: http://www.artofproblemsolving.com/community/c135_mathcamp
Thank you very much!
thanks for hosting
Kevin Zhao / Lexington, MA / 15: THANKSNKSKSKSKSKSKSKS
Thank you all for joining us, and a big thanks to Marisa and Kevin for answering so many questions!
Again, if you're interested in applying for Mathcamp (or just want to try solving some cool questions), the Qualifying Quiz for Mathcamp can be found at http://www.mathcamp.org/quiz
If you have further questions for Mathcamp, you can contact them through either of the means that Marisa mentioned above.
And finally, a transcript of this Math Jam will be posted soon here: http://www.aops.com/school/mathjams-transcripts
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