Student Life

students at a dance at Duke University
Student Video

Outside the rigorous classroom atmosphere, students take time to decompress and make new friends in a variety of social and recreational settings.

This opportunity to socialize creates new bonds and strengthens the TIP community both in and out of the classroom. It also results in lifelong friendships. Students often discover that they have much in common with their fellow TIPsters far beyond the class they’re taking. They are often able to be their authentic selves and find new friends that they can talk to about all their interests.

Residential model

Residential staff members plan a wide variety of activities that appeal to all students. Programming follows our TIPstar programming model, focusing on five broad areas.

Students may receive a button for activities they participate in. They wear these tangible memories on their lanyards throughout the term and can take them home as memorabilia. The buttons also serve as great conversation gateways and tokens of appreciation and accomplishment.

1. Diversity

Understanding and embracing the differences within ourselves and the world around us.

Sample activities include community mural; history of hip-hop and freestyling; capoeira and Brazilian culture; and “salsa and salsa,” i.e., both making the food and learning the dance.

2. Service

Supporting the people within our own and surrounding communities through volunteerism and compassion.

Sample activities include crochet making for a cause, random acts of kindness competition, cards for the troops, campus cleanup, and recycling projects.

3. Leadership

Helping students grow to become stronger people while exploring and defining their own values, ethics, and identity.

Sample activities include college expo, public speaking, debates, research opportunities, and LeaderTIP Academy.

Student Video

4. Health and Wellness

Intentionally creating an atmosphere in which residents are exposed to information that will enable them to make healthy lifestyle choices.

Sample activities include yoga, TIPstar Boot Camp, cooking lessons, healthy snacks, field day, and sports competitions.

5. Fine Arts

Fostering the opportunity for students to share their originality through performing arts, creative arts, visual arts, media, and entertainment.

Sample activities include painting without brushes, “kookies and karaoke,” jam sessions, playwriting, poetry night, improvisation, and talent shows.

Parent Advice

We tried not to overwhelm my child with preparations and travel details, but kept her abreast of dates and what to expect in general regarding college and dorm life. She ended up being excited and practically shoved us out when we dropped her off. Students have limited free time to phone home, and I cried many evenings when my child, four hours from home, did not call and give me every detail from the day. She did not call because she was having fun and was exhausted every night. She made friends. She received instruction from a qualified teacher that was not below her level for once in her life. She met other smart kids she could relate to. She really liked her roommate. She liked the cafeteria food. She lived tasting the freedom of being a college student. She was well “guarded.” She was safe. She and her groups were escorted around the campus. In summary, now my daughter is not afraid to go to college: ‘been there, done that!’ She wants to go again this year. We are so happy we did it! –Sandra A., TIP Parent, South Carolina

Student Video

Residential staff and supervision

Outstanding undergraduate and graduate students serve as Residential Counselors who live in the residence halls with the students, organize social and recreational activities, serve as role models, and enforce Duke TIP conduct guidelines.

Each Residential Counselor supervises a group of approximately ten to sixteen students. Additional residential administrators with extensive experience provide further oversight.

Staff members supervise students throughout the day, including during blocks of free time. Duke TIP students may not leave campus or designated boundaries at any point during the program, except under the direct supervision of Duke TIP staff.

students going wild at a dance

Campus-wide events

During the weekends students participate in large, campus-wide social and recreational programming such as field day activities, talent shows, lip sync or skit competitions, carnivals, dances, and off-campus field trips. Recent campus-wide field trips include major and minor league sporting events and family fun centers.

Free time

Students need downtime after a day of challenging academics, so we ensure they receive free time each day to relax, read quietly, or spend time with their friends. Some sites also offer a few voluntary activities to provide more structured options.

Religious services

Free time during the weekends allows students to attend services, if they wish.

The availability of services for particular religions or denominations varies by program location, but we will accommodate student transportation requests to attend religious services within a ten-mile radius of each site, to the extent that staff supervision and drivers can be provided.

If there are any questions or special considerations that Duke TIP should be aware of to allow students to practice their religion, please contact the Director of Student Affairs at


Students live in college residence halls with one or two roommates as part of a ten-to-sixteen-student residential group.

They may live on floors with members of another sex, but all halls have adult staff supervision and same-sex bathroom facilities. Where possible, students will have access to a single-occupancy all-gender restroom if needed. Students are only allowed to have their assigned roommates in their room.

All residential rooms, classrooms, and labs are air conditioned except for a few classrooms at Appalachian State University.

Living with a roommate is part of TIP’s goal of giving students the opportunity to meet people from many walks of life. Sharing a residence hall space with someone new can be exciting and can create the opportunity to build lifelong friendships.

Student Video

Roommate requests

Duke TIP is unable to accommodate roommate requests. Just before students arrive, Duke TIP staff members make residential group assignments based on the gender, age, and interests of the students, as stated in their online forms.

Transgender or gender nonconforming students who have specific housing needs based upon their gender identity or gender expression may contact the Director of Student Affairs at

Dietary allergies and restrictions

Students who choose to eat the regularly prepared meals and do not require any specially ordered meals do not need to make any special arrangements. However, students who have severe or life-threatening allergies or dietary restrictions must make prior arrangements.

Duke TIP provides student meals for the duration of the program. We offer a variety of à la carte options at each meal, including a meat and meatless entrée, salad bar, and other assorted items. Menus are designed to accommodate vegetarian, gluten-free, and lactose-free diets, as well as many common food allergies.

Kosher meals are not available, but students are able to eat “kosher-style” by selectively choosing items from the regular dining hall offerings.

Students with special dietary needs or severe allergies must contact the Coordinator of Accommodations at or (919) 668-9100 by April 13 to discuss meal options.

boys playing frisbee


Coin- or card-operated washers and dryers are available on all campuses. Each load costs approximately $1.50, and Residential Counselors will be glad to provide instructions on using the machines.

Athletic facilities and training programs

The residential staff schedules evening recreational and athletic activities, such as swing dancing, basketball, soccer, and Frisbee, depending on the available facilities. TIP staff may lead supervised group runs if there are appropriate facilities and interested students, but we cannot accommodate specific training needs.

TIP students are not allowed access to campus weight rooms, swimming pools, or other athletic department facilities or equipment, nor to swim recreationally. 

Musical instruments and practice facilities

Students may bring small musical instruments (clarinets, trumpets, etc.) that can be stored in their residence hall rooms. However, music practice rooms are not available, and students will have very little time to practice.

Please do not bring large instruments (drums, harps, etc.), as there is no storage space available for them. Duke TIP is not responsible for loss or damage to instruments during the program.

Mail service

Residential Counselors distribute mail each weekday. There are US Post Offices or mailboxes on or near each campus where students may purchase stamps and send mail. Specific information regarding mailing addresses will be provided to enrolled students in May. 

Although Duke TIP staff distributes student mail, we do not accept responsibility for lost or stolen items. Some service may be slower than expected due to reduced summer staffing and campus mail centers. Mail sent during the last week of the program may not arrive in time to be delivered.

students with arms around each other at a dance

Summer Studies is a three-week residential program for high-achieving students in grades seven through ten. Taking place at thirteen college campuses across the country over two different summer sessions, the programs provide the social and intellectual stimulus that gifted students need.

New to Summer Studies? Look for this banner and select it for advice from other parents on how to make the most of your child's Duke TIP experience:

Parent Advice

Throughout this section of our website, you can access advice from actual Duke TIP parents by clicking on the blue banner above. Their advice will then appear in a box of text like this one. If you would like to talk to a TIP parent directly, to hear what they have to say about the Summer Studies experience before you decide to apply, you are welcome to take advantage of our Parent Ambassador Program. Simply submit a request using this form and you will be contacted by a parent whose child attended the program last year.