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Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Who can apply?

Any 8th grader who will attend an MNPS high school and who is motivated, curious, and interested in STEM and the research process.

Is there a cost?

No. The SSMV is free of charge. Students who currently receive free or reduced meals through Metropolitan Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) will receive the same benefits while attending the SSMV. Otherwise, students will be required to bring or pay for their own meals on campus while attending.

What are the benefits of the SSMV experience for students?

In addition to the seven honors credits earned over their four years, there are several ways that participation in the SSMV benefits students. Primarily, students will be exposed to a truly astounding array of experiences related to scientific inquiry, renowned scientists, researchers and academics, all in a rich university culture. They will receive intensive, high-quality instruction from Ph.D. scientists and engage in a sequential curriculum which will give them strong scientific research skills and prepare them for entry to universities. Students will build relationships with their instructors and research mentors who will benefit them in a host of ways, both during their high school careers and afterward. Students can call on their instructors and mentors for letters of recommendation and guidance beyond the classroom. Ideally, students will form long-term relationships with their mentors who they may call on throughout their careers and which will set them apart from other students who are highly-qualified but have not had the benefit of this experience.

How many days of the week will students be at Vanderbilt?

Students will attend 1 day per week as follows:

  • Freshmen – Mondays.
  • Sophomores – Wednesdays.
  • Juniors – Thursdays during the fall semester. Individual lab schedules vary during the spring semester.
  • Seniors – Tuesdays. Individual lab schedules vary during the fall semester.
  • Summer sessions vary but are generally all day Monday through Friday for 3 consecutive weeks. The summer between the junior and senior year has a 6 weeks session.

What are SSMV hours?

The SSMV day begins at 8:00 a.m. and ends at 2:00 p.m. There is an optional two hour study period from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. The classroom opens at 7:30 a.m. Students are dismissed at 2:00 p.m.

If accepted, when would my commitment begin?

Rising 9th grade students are required to attend a mandatory orientation which will be held prior to the beginning of the school year.

Once students are accepted to the SSMV, their commitment continues through the school year and summers of their entire high school career.

Is the independent study period at our home school mandatory?

The SSMV strongly encourages students to take advantage of an independent study period available to them; however it is not a requirement to participate in the program. This option is in place with good reason and is meant to offset the time students will miss while attending the SSMV. The SSMV and MNPS have both agreed that this will be beneficial to students. Individual school policies may vary so please check with your school.

Is the two hour study hall on SSMV days mandatory?

No. However, we strongly encourage students to take advantage of this resource as they will have instructors and other university tutors available to help them with any zoned school or SSMV work they have. Students choosing to stay on campus for Study Hall must remain in the SSMV classroom or sign out on the class board if they choose to study in the nearby Cafe on the basement level of Mayborn. Off campus excursions to coffee shops, restaurants, etc. are not allowed as SSMV staff are unable to supervise.

Will students be penalized for missing their regular school day?

No. Attending the SSMV will count as a school day and students will not be marked absent at their zoned school.

How will students be supported in their zoned high schools while attending the SSMV?

The SSMV is a collaboration between The Collaborative for STEM Education and Outreach (CSEO) and MNPS. There are several layers of support between the two that will ensure that each student’s needs are addressed and that there is good communication between the SSMV and the student’s zoned high schools. SSMV administration will facilitate communication from principals, guidance counselors, teachers, and students to help each student achieve success in the SSMV and at their zoned high school. We believe that each student accepted into the SSMV will thrive and that their work at the SSMV will add to their overall academic success.

How will the high schools know who is in the SSMV and how to adjust their schedule?

Principals and guidance counselors will be made aware of the SSMV students once admissions are finalized. The SSMV’s MNPS liaison will communicate with the high schools and report attendance. We also strongly encourage students and parents to establish and maintain good communication with their high school teachers, counselors, and administrators throughout your high school years.

How will students complete schoolwork missed at their zoned high school?

It is the student’s responsibility to ask teachers from their zoned high schools to provide them with assignments they miss while at the SSMV prior to the SSMV day (e.g., by the previous Friday for 9th graders, who are on Vanderbilt’s campus on Mondays). Following each SSMV day, an SSMV instructor will be available to assist SSMV students from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. Students are also encouraged to request an independent study course at their zoned school for one hour per day, dedicated as time to pursue missed work.

We strongly encourage students to establish and maintain close communication with all of their teachers regarding assignments and any extra time commitments required (e.g., band rehearsals, out-of-town trips, etc.).

Will there be homework?

Yes. There will be assignments, just as there would be for any honors level course.

Will students receive grades? How will they be graded?

Yes. Students will be graded via traditional and nontraditional assessment that conforms to state and MNPS requirements. Student assignments will be developed by the SSMV instructors over the course of the year. Graded assignments will include, but are not limited to, essays, research papers, manuscript drafts, problem sets, discussion, laboratory notebooks and reports, and presentations. Instructors will also collect laboratory notebooks from students.

Is there an SSMV calendar and course syllabus?

Please see the calendar on the website. The SSMV will follow a modified version of the MNPS calendar. In order to comply with state requirements for contact hours, students may be expected to attend the SSMV on some teacher in-service days and parent-teacher conference days as they will not be observed by the SSMV. All other holidays observed by MNPS will be observed. Important dates are currently available on the SSMV’s webpage and are updated. Once the SSMV year begins, a more formalized SSMV calendar and/or syllabus will be available.

Will students receive college credit once they have completed the four year program?

No. This is a part-time high school program. Students are MNPS students at Vanderbilt. SSMV courses will receive state credit with honors status. Completion of each dedicated academic year SSMV course (e.g., Interdisciplinary Science I) will equal one unit of credit. Full completion of the program will result in seven honors science elective credits.

How are parents involved?

Parent involvement is crucial to the success of the SSMV. From the time your child applies to the SSMV until they graduate, parent support will be one of the major factors in their success. We ask parents to play an active role in helping students make the transition from 8th grade to high school plus the SSMV. This includes talking to teachers, counselors, and principals before the start of the year and making sure that they know your child is in the SSMV. Parents are our partners in monitoring student success throughout their four years in high school and our program and we will communicate with you frequently about the SSMV, your child’s progress, and ways you can help.

Parents also have the opportunity to take a leadership role through the SSMV Parent Council. Each year positions open and parents may volunteer to participate.

Will MNPS or Vanderbilt provide transportation to and from the School for Science and Math?

SSMV students will receive a badge which will allow them to ride MTA buses free of charge. Parents are also welcome to drop off and pickup their students from the campus.

What about carpooling?

We encourage students to carpool whenever possible. Please contact us if you would like assistance with this.