Posts filed under ‘TAMS’

Good news for science majors

Obama’s recovery package aims to…triple the number of undergraduate and graduate fellowships in science.

Dallas Morning News, 1/25/09

Science and math are already lucrative fields for students to pursue, both in terms of eventual salaries and because of the summer research grants and fellowships they can get. Obama promises to make it even better.

What do I mean by summer research grants? If a student can find a researcher-mentor and join an existing project or propose a new one, he or she can apply for grants from their college. For example, Stanford pays up to $5200; CalTech pays $600/week; the University of North Texas’ TAMS (Texas Academy of Mathematics and Sciences) pays up to $3000. Most colleges that focus on science will have similar programs.

It’s a whole lot better than flipping burgers at MacDonalds for the summer.


January 25, 2009 at 8:32 am Leave a comment

TAMS’ secret weapon

I am convinced TAMS (Texas Academy of Math and Sciences) has a secret weapon – college counselor Sharon Vann.

Sharon guides the students through the college application process, helping them pick courses, determine which colleges to target, and develop their applications.   Her involvement goes way beyond the two 45-minute presentations that the counselors at our public high school put on for students!

I’ve heard Sharon speak three times, at two conferences of the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented (TAGT) and at TAMS Summer Orientation.  She’s a former TAMSter who returned years later on a mission to help these kids.  As a college counselor she has the advantage of focusing strictly on gifted students.  But as a state employee, she feels an obligation to reach out to other students in the state, which is why she is so willing to speak at TAGT conventions.

Tips I’ve picked up from Sharon:

  • Most selective colleges are trying to limit AP credit to 12 credit hours.  TAMS students may not be issued credit for all the college classes they took at TAMS, but they often get so much advanced standing that they can finish both a B.A. and an M.S. in just one year more than it would take to get a B.A., provided they earn both degrees at the same college.
  • Her advice to National Merit Scholars or students with high GPAs is to consider going to their state school or the state schools nearby, as they often give full tuition scholarships.
  • Texas A&M loves Eagle Scouts.
  • She divides colleges into three types and warns that they require different students or different applications & essays.  MIT, CalTech & Stanford look for more math & science activities, leadership and classes.  State schools want variety.  Ivy Leagues and liberal arts schools want students who are well-rounded, at the top of their class, and show leadership not only in math/science but also in non-math/science areas.
  • All students need to read good writing.  Writing skills generally trip up TAMS kids on their essays, because colleges want their personality and beliefs to come out in the essay, not just facts

Boy, does she know her stuff!  If you get a chance, go hear her speak.

November 14, 2008 at 10:35 pm 2 comments

Intel, Siemens & Goldwater competitors at TAMS

intel-science-talent-searchTAMS (Texas Academy of Math & Science) students have the best of both worlds.  They are classified both as high school students and as college students, so they can participate in programs and apply for scholarships under either classification.  Thus TAMS has students participating in both the Intel and Siemens competitions.  This year, the grand prize ($100,000) Intel winner was a TAMS student.

According to TAMS Dean Dr. Richard Sinclair, TAMS regularly has more Barry Goldwater Scholarship winners than even MIT or CalTech and all of UNT’s Goldwater nominees are TAMS students…hence there is no way that UNT would want to close the TAMS program, even if the state of Texas were to stop underwriting the tuition for TAMS students.

Such a deal!

November 1, 2008 at 10:22 pm Leave a comment

The power of “Oooohh??!”

At the summer orientation for TAMS (Texas Academy of Math and Sciences), all day long the parents were taught that, when our kids call to tell us something, the only acceptable response is “Ooooohhh????” spoken with a questioning inflection that says “I’m interested; tell me more” but which does not express any approval or disapproval and does not include any advice or direction.   In other words, we have to start letting go and expect our children to make their own decisions.

We giggled whenever they made us say “Ooooohhhh???”, but it is probably a good technique for parents in general.

June 7, 2008 at 10:18 pm Leave a comment

I’m a TAMS mom!

My son has been accepted at TAMS (Texas Academy of Math and Sciences) early college program.  Yippee!  Boo hoo!


March 1, 2008 at 10:42 pm Leave a comment

Interview Day at TAMS

Drum roll, please.  Today my 14-year-old son interviewed for a place in the freshman / junior class at Texas Academy of Math & Sciences (TAMS).


He’s applying to attend TAMS  early college program.   He’ll be a high school junior and will graduate in two years with a high school diploma, but he’ll also be registering as a college freshman and will earn about 60 hours of college credit.

TAMS is a jewel of an option for Texas students.  It’s funded by the state, so parents pay $0 tuition – just room and board and a $1300 program fee that pays for additional staffing to support these underage kids.

At Interview Day, he took a math test to make sure he was ready for college level work and participated in a group interview.  The TAMS student who served as our tour guide told the kids not to sweat the interview.  He felt it was primarily intended to weed out the kids whose parents were forcing them to apply but who did not really want to attend TAMS.

In the meantime, the parents heard from the academic dean, admissions counselor, and other staff.  Highlights:

  • TAMS not only encourages students to work with professors on their research projects, but will provide stipends for summer research.  Not only is this better than flipping burgers at McDonalds, but students might actually get published or use their research to compete in the Intel or Siemens competitions.  The research opportunities are one of the advantages TAMS offers compared to our local high school, where none of the teachers are engaged in research, let alone have grants from the National Institute of Health or other nationally recognized organizations.
  • TAMS’ Mission is “to provide an accelerated education for bright, motivated Teas high school students who have demonstrated an interest in pursuing careers in mathematics and science.  tams-ruining-the-curveThe academy also seeks to provide its students with the companionship of peers; to encourage students to develop the creativity, curiosity, reasoning ability, and self-discipline that lead to independent thought and action: and to aid students in developing the integrity that will enable them to benefit society.”
  • TAMS is the oldest early college program in the country so other states send contingents to study the TAMS program and emulate it.
  • TAMS T-shirt:  “Ruining the curve since 1987”.     Some of the classes TAMS students attend are composed solely of TAMS students, but others include regular UNT students.  The regular UNT students tend to avoid classes with many TAMS students, because they know those young nerds will skew the grading curve, making it harder to earn an A.

January 28, 2008 at 10:06 pm 3 comments

Success factors among early college entrants

Michael Saylor has been researching the radically accelerated students at TAMS (Texas Academy of Math and Sciences) for years.   These are students who enter college in what should be their junior year of high school.  This year he presented “Success Factors Among Early College Entrants” at the National Association of Gifted Children annual conference.

My takeaways:

  • The “Little Fish/Big Pond” effect is in effect in that, after just one semester, they show a drop in sense of achievement and their relationships are still not developed.  I suspect the latter is because TAMS puts 200 gifted kids together in an environment where they have to make new friends because their old friends aren’t there, but 75% of gifted people are introverts, so friendships don’t develop overnight.
  • However, in the long run (1 to 5 years after the program) early entrance has a positive effect on their well-being.

He also profiled the students who do well academically their first semester versus those who do well in terms of personal well-being:

  • Academic success is predicted by high SAT scores, high school grades, a family focus on “personal growth”, and authoritarian parents – e.g., those parents who teach their children to conform & obey authority, allow less feedback, are high in control and less nurturing, but support their child’s academic interests.
  • Personal well-being is predicted by 9th grade GPA, resilience (confidence that they will cope well despite challenges), and permissive parenting styles.

So, if I want my son to succeed academically at TAMS, I have to use an authoritarian parenting style, but if I want him to feel good about himself, I have to be permissive.  I give up!

(Actually, my kids say it’s too late…they think I’ve been permissive all along.   Funny – in middle school their friends thought I was the strictest mom ever.)

November 11, 2007 at 9:07 pm Leave a comment

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