Summer High School Academic Program for Engineers (SHAPE)

Columbia University Engineering


New York, NY






Columbia's Summer High School Academic Program for Engineers (SHAPE) is a selective pre-college program for rising sophomores, juniors, seniors, and recent high school graduates. SHAPE is geared toward students with an aptitude for STEM: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

SHAPE consists of two, three-week summer sessions. Students may attend one or both sessions. Each 3-week session offers college-level, project-based courses in engineering taught by prestigious faculty at Columbia University. Students engage with peers and Columbia University faculty, staff, students, alumni, and industry partners through interactive programming, site visits, and workshops.

Students will choose a subject and participate in one introductory college-level engineering course for the duration of their session. The program also features electives, college preparation, support from Columbia students, and other workshops. Please note that SHAPE is a pre-college program taught by faculty, but it does not provide college credit. Students will also visit the MakerSpace. The MakerSpace is equipped with 3D printers, laser cutters, and CNC tools for digital fabrication. Students are required to complete a safety training before using the space and will only do so under close supervision. Some classes will use the Makerspace on a regular basis to build prototypes.

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Columbia SHAPE Engineering Summer Program

SHAPE is a selective summer program for rising high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors geared toward local students who have demonstrated an interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). SHAPE offers college-level courses taught by full-time engineering professors in robotics, computer science, electrical engineering, biomedical engineering, and innovation and design. These courses are complemented by electives and workshops. They have need-based scholarships available and encourage applications from all students.

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As I connected with my new friends, I was able to explore and enjoy the Columbia campus. My favorite memory was building a bot with my new friends at SHAPE and presenting it at a symposium to professors and students from other programs...Attending SHAPE showed me that the collaboration of people from different fields and backgrounds can have a bigger impact. I am excited about the possibility of studying and doing innovative research at Columbia University.

Will doing Columbia University High School Summer Program give me a better chance into Columbia?

I did the summer program and enrolled in the school, but I don’t know anyone else from the program who ended up getting in. The program is a good way to see if you like the school, especially the dorms, campus, food, etc. The classes are decent representation of the program, although a little less challenging. However, the program is mostly just a way for the school to make money. It’s far less selective than the colleges, and I only recommend going if you get a really good scholarship. If you go, try to take a small, discussion-based class. The professors for these will write you really good letters of recommendation. In summary, it’s a good experience that I don’t recommend unless it’s free for you.

Finally: the truth about Columbia University High School Program

Based on the fact that this program was advertised as a "college-level academic experience", I assumed it was selective, and admission was competitive. Turns out, virtually no one is ever rejected. Some of the students I've met here have GPAs below 2.0, sleep through class and have partied every night of the three weeks. ...The coursework is easy, and most classes have 50+ students (mine has 100+), so you are fortunate if the prof even knows your name... Oh, and the "evaluation" you get at the end of the course that everyone says is "great to send to colleges" consists of 4-5 sentences and is the same letter for the majority of the students.

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