Friday, November 13, 2015

UW Robinson Center Programs

Due to the interest I thought I'd start a separate thread for the UW early entrance programs. 

In addition, a current parent in the programs has emailed me and is willing to talk further. Email me with contact info if you'd like to be put in touch.

UW Academy For Young Scholars

The University of Washington’s Academy for Young Scholars is a competitive early entrance program for highly capable and motivated high school students. A select cohort of approximately 35 students is admitted to the Academy each year, becoming a part of the Robinson Center’s vibrant early entrance community. Students apply to the Academy during the 10th grade, and if accepted, withdraw from high school at the end of the school year and enroll as full time UW freshmen in Fall.

Eager to learn all about the UW Academy? Check out the UW Academy page under the Programs tab of our website. Additionally, come to one of our Information Sessions, to be held Nov 17 and Dec 15 in Foege Auditorium 060 on the UW Seattle campus. (We are also holding an Off-Campus Info Session on  Dec 5 at Franklin High School in South Seattle.

Questions? Email us at or call 206-543-4160.

Important Dates:
November 17th: UW Academy Info Session
December 5th: UW Academy Info Session
December 28th: The deadline to register for the January 23rd SAT test date, The latest date to take the SAT to be considered for 2016 Admission to the Academy
January 8th: The deadline to register for the February 6th ACT test date, The latest date to take the ACT to be considered for 2016 Admission to the Academy
January 14th: UW Academy Info Session
March 10th: Complete Applications due to the Robinson Center by 4:30pm
April 22nd: Decision letters mailed to all applicants

UW Transition School

The Transition School/ Early Entrance Program is once again considering applicants from the Seattle area and far afield to join the long legacy of the program, which has been providing young students with University-level learning opportunities since 1977.
How it works, in a nutshell:
Students in 7th or 8th grade (or between 12 and 14 years old) submit an online application, which lets the Robinson Center know you’re collecting the required materials to be considered for a TS interview. Once your ACT scores, transcripts, and teacher recommendations are submitted, the review committee will let you know if you qualify for an interview. Around 16 of the interviewed candidates will be welcomed to the Transition School, where they will hone their skills for one year before joining the University of Washington’s freshman class.

Eager for all the details of the Transition School and Early Entrance Program? Visit the Transition School page and come to one of our Winter Information Sessions, to be held  Dec 1 and Jan 7 in Foege Auditorium 060.

Have questions? Email us at or call 206-543-4160.

Important Dates:
December 1: TS/EEP Information Session
January 7: TS/EEP Information Session
February 12: Early Decision Application Materials Due
March 21: ALL Application Materials Due
Early Decision Letter Mailed
June 10: Acceptance Letters Mailed

More info:


Anonymous said...

We did get an email/letter about this for our student. Are Seattle schools coordinating with UW?

Anonymous said...


This is not something new. The UW has been doing this with SPS for years. The program at the UW is tiny, and there is no way many kids from SPS would even get in.

I don't believe there is any coordination. Your kid just scored high enough on a test - it's a form letter based on a score.


Anonymous said...

Dingo every year kid(s) from SPS get in but it is a statewide draw.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how the UW received access to test scores and whose scores they have.

Anonymous said...

Yes, 2nd Anon, I know that. I used the word "many" because I know some do get in, but it is not MANY.

I was trying to let the 1st anon parent know that these letters go out to a lot of kids and there is not room for all the kids who got letters to get into the program, even if they do meet all the additional qualifications.

The district is obviously sharing the test results with the UW. From my understanding, the district gives the UW the names and scores of all the kids who score above the criteria.


WILL EVERYONE PLEASE USE SOME SORT OF NAME?????? It is difficult to respond to comments in this thread and there are only four comments, but three are anonymous. I promise it's really easy to add some name at the end of your comment.

Anonymous said...

Hi Dingo and Anons:
I don't think the AL Office (SPS) is sharing any personal/test info with the Robinson Center (RC) at the UW. Since parents receive the official invitation letter from the Advanced Learning Office (SPS) and inside there will be two invitation letters, one from Stephen Martin (SPS) with the student's name and one from Nancy Hertzog (Director of RC) with no name, I think the procedure is the following: The Director of the RC sends anonymous Invitation Letters to the AL Office and then there Stephen Martin and his team decide who to send out these forms in the district based on test scores and grades.
Important for parents and students to know that you can apply to these programs without any invitation letter.
If you are interested in the programs the best thing to do is to sign up for one of the many offered info sessions.

- Parent

Anonymous said...

Actually, they draw from beyond WA state, too. My kid's cohort included two who moved from out of state to attend the program, as well as one who moved from another country. Not many SPS kids were accepted--I think there was at least one, but not more than 2 or 3.

UW parent

Anonymous said...

Does anyone know if students in 9th grade last year took a standard test? There are no test results posted to the source for spring 2015, and my daughter doesn't remember taking a test. We received an email letter about the Robinson Center program and I was wondering what test scores they are using.


Anonymous said...

Maybe all HCC students get it?
My children opted out of testing for the past 3 years. And I agree that it doesn't look like SPS is sharing any data with the Robinson Center, they're just passing on the invitation from the RC.
I'd love a thread about High Schools too. Thanks, Ben!


Anonymous said...

We know 3 boys who started in the Transition School from SPS this year - 2 9th graders and 1 8th grader. I don't know if there are any more from SPS.


Anonymous said...

The RC makes its choices not merely on test scores, but (mainly) on whether it's a good emotional fit for the student.

It is not a good choice for most students, for a variety of reasons.

It's a fine program, but not always very successful in terms of outcome. Many students in the RC feel marginalized and unsupported, and many do not thrive academically.

A UW Parent

Anonymous said...

@ A UW Parent,

Your use of "many" seems to exaggerate the atypical outcomes. True, the program is "not always successful" in terms of outcomes. Who would expect it to be? But evaluation results suggests most RC Early Entrance students DO have successful academic outcomes--high GPAs, high graduation rates, high rates of post-grad degrees, etc.

Socially, they are much younger than their non-RC classmates, so that's a challenge for some. But they have lots of peers in the RC--and many of these kids did not really have peers in middle or high school. In other words, to the extent that some feel "marginalized" in the wider UW community and don't feel like they're getting the typical college experience, they were likely to feel similarly marginalized in high school has they gone that route instead. All in all, about 90% of those who participated in the RC alumni study said they'd do it again if faced with that decision.

Also RC

Anonymous said...

To A UW parent
Could you please specify which group of students are you talking about when you say this: "Many students in the RC feel marginalized and unsupported, and many do not thrive academically"; and also, on what information did you base your opinion?

The Robinson Center has 3 different groups of students (and they provide professional support for all of them on a regular and need basis).
The Transition School (TS) students who are doing the 1 year transition program in the RC at the age of 13 or 14 after finishing 7th or 8th grade.
The Early Entrance Program (EEP) students who successfully finished the TS year and started the UW when they are 14 or 15 years old.
The Academy students who finished HS at the end of 10th grade and started the UW when they are 16 or 17 years old.

The RC has an extensive application process for both of the TS and the Academy program, which includes evaluation of previous grades, test scores, teacher's recommendations, personal and parental interviews or essays, etc. To me, this shows that they are trying to make their decision based on many different things, kind of evaluating the whole child to see who would make out the most of their programs (not just looking the test scores or emotional fit). I believe they also have the experience in this process since they are running the programs for decades.

If there is a college level gifted program that is always successful in terms of outcome, please let us know, as I am sure all of us would like to know about it.

- G/T mom

Anonymous said...

"Could you please specify which group of students are you talking about when you say this: "Many students in the RC feel marginalized and unsupported, and many do not thrive academically"; and also, on what information did you base your opinion?"

—Students I have encountered over the years, in my department and classes. I base my opinion on them telling me this.

"The Robinson Center has 3 different groups of students"

—I am very well aware of everything the RC offers.

"The RC has an extensive application process for both of the TS and the Academy program [...]"

—Ditto. I am UW faculty, and well aware of the RC in all of its details.

"If there is a college level gifted program that is always successful in terms of outcome, please let us know, as I am sure all of us would like to know about it."

—There is not one of which I am aware.

The RC serves certain purposes, that's true. The students are bright, but not the brightest we see, either at the UW or in the classroom. Success rates fluctuate, and we recognize that emotional problems are higher than the average undergrad population (and no wonder). It's good for bright kids who are precocious and really not doing well, socially, in high school. They are not usually our highest achievers, and ... well, there it is. If it's a good fit for your children, and *if they want it*, go for it. But this is hardly something I'd push for most kids who could qualify merely on the basis of test scores (and my child is one of them).

Anonymous said...

Really? So what exactly is the prevalence of emotional problems in RC students, and how does it compare to the rate in the wider UW population? Or is this just your opinion? If it were recognized to be true on a wider scale--children being admitted early and suffering emotional problems a result--one would think the Univ would shut the program down, no?

As to whether or not they are usually the highest achievers at UW or in your class, isn't that true of nearly all other UW students as well? Only a small percentage will be the highest achievers. Regardless, it was my understanding that a number of past Dean's Medal recipients have been former RC students. Given how small the program is, that's impressive.

Are you suggesting the kids being admitted aren't ready? Have you complained via the proper channels--after all, these are kids! If their health and well being are so negatively impacted, surely someone should do something! Or perhaps your perspective is biased, or you are misinterpreting their words to some extent. I can't imagine my former RC student ever saying those things you said you often hear to a professor. When do you teach them--as early undergrads or later?

Anonymous said...

It hasn't been updated recently, but here's a link to a list of awards received by RC students. Quite impressive. They seem to be disproportionately reflected in many of these awards, way beyond what would be typical for their small numbers.

And it's not just that a few individuals really stand out. It's pretty broad representation. For example, at least16 Phi Beta Kappa invitees in 2012-13 were former RC students. Phi Beta Kappa invitations are typically made in the senior year (require 120+ units), and require a 3.77 GPA or higher, plus other criteria. If the RC has an average of about 40 of its former students in each UW grade level (up to 35 Acad ands up to 16 EEP admitted each year), ending up with 16 Phi Beta Kappa eligibles in a single year suggests these students perform quite well compared to typical UW students. It sounds to me that they usually ARE some of our highest achievers.

Data, not Anecdotes

Anonymous said...

"Are you suggesting the kids being admitted aren't ready? Have you complained via the proper channels"

—Yes, that is precisely what I am suggesting. I do not need to "complain"—but this is something that is indeed discussed at the highest levels. As a parent, I am concerned, and I am disturbed to learn that you are not.

"When do you teach them--as early undergrads or later?"


Anonymous said...

In re the awards—

Um. Well, I know a lot about those listed (and see many students I have taught or otherwise know) and with a few exceptions (which I shall not name), most of these are pretty small university awards that are widely distributed (sorry). A few of those are really competitive, but not most. Not that they aren't bad awards! It's just that few of those are top level.

ΦΒΚ requirements—and students are typically elected in in their junior or senior years (as was the case w/ the RC students listed)—are pretty moderate GPA-wise (a 3.75 is not considered high here; in some fields it is considered low); in addition to GPA, all that is required are 8 credits of upper-div in a lib. arts field not connected "closely" w/ one's major.

So, in 2013, 9 RC kids satisfied this. In 2012, there were 8. In this period at the UW, over 360 students were similarly elected.

In other words, some did well enough (3.75). We'd hope so. But nearly 10% of our students do similarly well. Using ΦΒΚ as some sort of proof of RC excellence isn't sufficient.

Data. Not opinions.

Anonymous said...

To A UW parent
As I think these comments were all yours:
November 24, 2015 at 11:28 PM
December 2, 2015 at 8:29 AM
December 2, 2015 at 8:43 AM

What is your goal with these comments?
Since the RC accepts students from all over the city (or even in and out of the State), even if SPS students don't apply to the programs, there will be others.

I personally believe, that there are a small number of students every year in SPS, who would benefit from the RC programs. I just hope they will apply...

- Parent

Anonymous said...

@ A UW Parent (assuming you posted the 8:29 and 8:43 comments),

So you are saying these kids are not ready for UW, and that this is discussed at the highest levels. Can you please direct me to any further information on this--any evaluation results, administrative memos, officials who are knowledgeable about the situation and would speak frankly with me? I'm not sure where you got the idea that I would not be concerned about that, because I would be. If our public university is running a program that harms children, something should be done to stop it. But I need actual data that support this supposed lack of readiness before I'm going to get too worked up about it--especially when I've seen evidence that these RC programs work well for kids. Where can I get good information about the problem? Or is it just a dark little secret that only those in the know--like yourself--are privy to?

Data, not Anecdotes

Anonymous said...

Where did you get the data that say only 9 RC kids satisfied ΦΒΚ requirements in 2013 and only 8 in 2012? I think you're misinterpreting the data in that RC awards link. Those are based on a single academic year, so it shows 16 total for 2012-13. That would be 16 out of an estimated 40-50 RC kids who were at that point in their UW careers. If it's true that 10% of the general UW population qualifies for ΦΒΚ, the RC's rate seems to be much higher.

Maybe your point is that you're expecting these kids to all be THE top students at the UW, and anything less than a 4.0 isn't good enough? Are you assuming that these kids would all get 4.0s if they were to finish high school first and then matriculate? I doubt that's realistic. Might they do a little better? Perhaps, but in the big scheme of things is it better to waste 2-4 years in high school in order to get an extra 0.2 grade points in college? I doubt it, unless you're driven only by getting into grad school program x.

I have to wonder the same thing as Parent--what's your goal here? If you have a genuine concern for these kids, do something about it. Speak up, daylight data, etc. You said these kids don't have good success rates, and that they have high rates of emotional problems. If those statements are really true, someone should be doing something. Or if you're just trying to "take these kids down a notch" and make sure everyone realizes they not so bright after all, you might want to reflect on your motivations...because it seems odd. You coming off more as mean-spirited than concerned--but if it's genuine concern behind your comments, I'd like to hear more about it.

You said: "It's good for bright kids who are precocious and really not doing well, socially, in high school. They are not usually our highest achievers, and ... well, there it is." Interesting. If it's good for bright kids who are precocious but not a good fit at high school, then what's the problem? Who cares if they don't all happen to be the smartest kids in the entire UW community, which draws from a national and international pool?

Anonymous said...

As a person who has a child who fits the social and academic profile of an RC applicant, but is still 2-3 years away, I really appreciate those comments and do not find them mean spirited. We are definitely not considering it for our equally high achieving but more socially successful child, and I see missing out on years of youth and accelerating to adulthood as a major cost. I want to know what exactly the program offers to kids that mitigates that cost. It sounds like, as with most educational programs, the answer is "it depends," and also probably "not quite as much as advertised." I have found it difficult talking to current RC parents because the few I have run across just see it as an honor for their kids and think of high school as a waste in all ways, see absolutely zero cost associated with skipping it. Probably there is more to it, but they are't going to tell a relative stranger that.

Middle Schooler

Anonymous said...

@ Middle Schooler,

As the parent of a UW student who entered via the RC, I'm disappointed to hear that the vibe given off by the parents with whom you've spoken is one of honor or prestige. We certainly didn't feel that way--for us it was about the program being the right fit. To be honest, though, it's a tricky situation to navigate socially as a parent. Whether in conversation with friends of strangers, when the conversation inevitably turns to kids and their age/grade, you're faced with a decision to either admit that your kid is doing early entrance--which often shuts down the conversation entirely, particularly if the person you're speaking with has similar age kids going the traditional route--or you can try to steer the conversation away and find ways to hide your child's status. At the same time, as parents we're excited about the opportunity our kid has to perhaps finally be in what feels like an appropriate educational setting. I suspect that sometimes this excitement comes across as bragging to those not familiar with the ins and outs of the child's prior educational mismatch and struggles.

I'm very interested in discussion around the issue you bring up--that you see missing out on years of youth and accelerating to adulthood as a major cost. I agree that how, and the extent to which, the RC programs navigate those potential costs likely depends on the kid. But I'm curious to hear more about what you--and others--see as those "major costs." What exactly is it you think they are giving up, or taking on--and why is it bad? For us, we haven't experienced this as our child "missing out on youth and accelerating to adulthood." He's matured a bit, yes, but that would be expected whether in HS or beyond. He's still the same kid, however--although seems much happier and at peace with his situation. He does not seem burdened by "adult" responsibilities, but instead is thriving and making new connections. He has been able to resume some of his past hobbies, has a part-time job, and is doing well in classes. It's working well, and he doesn't feel he's missing out on high school.

That said, some kids DO really miss high school. The RC includes current and former students in their informational nights each year, but I suspect they only include as panelists kids who stuck with the program and successfully matriculated at UW. Follow-up data on those who drop out, or who complete the program then opt return to (or begin) high school instead, would be very informative--for them, and for parents and students considering which route is best. Follow-up data on those who don't thrive at UW would also be helpful. I'd love to see more of an effort to really understand why the RC program--not unexpectedly!--doesn't work for some kids (or more effort to share that info if it's already available).


Anonymous said...


I do, however, have to take issue with your comment that what the program offers to "mitigate the cost of accelerating to adulthood" is probably "not quite as much as advertised." I have never gotten the sense from RC staff that the program is perfect, or that it is a good fit for everyone. They are usually very explicit about some of the characteristics that make someone a good match, and they are upfront about some of the things kids will be giving up. The student panelists during the informational sessions spend a lot of time talking about social issues, how it was to skip high school or leave early, etc. The RC also does some long-term follow-up research on program participants, and makes this information readily available. They were very forthcoming with recent results that showed students are often disappointed that they aren't getting a "true college experience." That wasn't a surprise to me, as I see that my son's experience is quite different than my own--his involves a lot of studying and focus on academics, whereas my focus was on social activities and (unfortunately) alcohol, usually as the expense of academics. That's partly a personality thing and he might have had the same experience regardless of age, but I can see how, looking back, these kids feel like they missed out on those wild college years. We went into this situation thinking that UW would kind of be his "high school" and that he'd get the "college experience" in grad school, but that's not likely to be the case, either. Yes, he'll be able to go into bars with his colleagues finally, but the undergrad party scene will likely be a gap in his "development"--for better or worse. :) One other factor in that sense of missing out on the college experience is that these kids are young, so typically live at home. I suspect that most commuter students feel a little disconnected from campus life in the same way. Many RC students end up living in the dorms when they are a bit older--so ahead academically, but near the same age as other undergrads. I think that helps with the experience. But overall, I've never gotten the sense that the RC is making claims that aren't true, or that what they offer will mitigate any and all regrets or missed opportunities. I think they have just as much at stake in being honest about the pros and cons of their programs as those considering enrollment do.

I hope this is somewhat helpful. I'm interested in hearing more about your ideas of some of those cons.


Anonymous said...

Sorry for disappearing. Thanks, HIMSmom. The cons I am concerned about are not especially during early teenaged years. I do think many of those social activities are valuable(not exactly party scene, but living as adults with other peers who are doing it for the first or near first time, too. Figuring out how to be an adult. Seems isolating to do it by yourself, or even with the pretty tiny RC sized cohort), but my concern has more to do with narrowing of options. If you go college when you are 14, well, then you are picking a major when you are 15. And picking a grad school when you are 18. And you are almost certainly picking a grad school, because what else are you going to do? These kids (my kid) are mature in some ways, but I am not as convinced that they are mature enough to choose their life path so early. They're all talented at academics, but this pushes pretty hard for them to go into academic fields, when later a wider variety might be more available and attractive to them, partly because of the social skills required for things like I don't know- marketing. Corporate work, group work, kinds of nonprofit work. Many of these kids are not quite as socially skilled (hence high school sounding like a waste to so many) so it may be that they weren't going into these things anyway. But they are still making adult kinds of choices, and I am not sure that the kind of maturity that you need to make those actually is typically very correlated with academic ability.

Anyway, those are the cons I see- all of which can be mitigated. And I know they don't matter to some people. I am somewhat sympathetic to the dilemma you mention about bragging/happy, but I don't know. I have one of these kids, too, and deal with sidestepping around things that are great for many very bright kids being not enough in some way for mine. I think I am at least partly attuned to the difference between a bragging parent and a relieved one, having been in it for a decade plus, now. I think it is probably both, just like it was in our days at Lincoln. Some people feel like it is a prize, and some people feel relieved they found a better fit. And I think it's hard for the "good fit" people to talk, for all the land mines the braggarts create.

Middle Schooler

Anonymous said...

Hi Middle Schooler:
I had similar concerns but then I learned that the options for the RC students are not limited an any way, rather the opposite: students, who are interested in many fields can take different courses, can have more than one majors (I've heard about a student who chose to do 3), they can also have minors and the main thing is that since they started the UW early, they have plenty of time to finish it. Some of them will finish it in 5 years or even later. But for them, it was the experience of the "world opened up" because entering the RC meant that they didn't have to work under their capacity/ability for years (in middle and high school).
I think if there is any limitation with the RC programs it is more likely to do with the fact that these students attend the UW as undergrads (and not any other University, for example not Ivy League or small liberal art school). If this is important, than maybe the RC programs are not the best options.
- G/T mom

Anonymous said...

Updates from the RC website:

Transition School

The EEP/Transition School Info Sessions are FULL. If you are interested, please join the wait list - you will be notified if space becomes available or an additional info session is arranged.

Interested in the UW Academy but want to make sure that it’s the right choice for you? Well then, come to a Visit Day and get a taste of the Academy Experience. The Academy Visit Days are a chance for prospective students to visit the Robinson Center–the home base of the Academy program–and meet the staff, take a tour of the UW campus, and even sit in on a college class! Space is limited, so priority goes to current 10th graders.

The RSVP will open on January 4th – save the date!

RC info

Anonymous said...

@ Middle Schooler,

While I agree that early entrance students may not be well-positioned to choose the best major for themselves at such a young age, I'm not sure they're any worse off in that regard than typical-age college students. High schoolers typically don't end up with a wide such a wide range of classes and experiences that they are better prepared to choose a major--college is time of discovery for them, too. And I suspect many RC students have done a lot more thinking about their educational interests and plans than your typical high school student anyway. Plus, many RC students are driven by particular passions that make major selection easy and obvious.

But even if they "choose wrong," I don't see the harm. Many people end up taking different directions after graduation, often changing fields many time. It's not something unique to RC students. The benefit is that RC students have moe time to explore--while undergrads, and after. RC alumni events include a lot of people doing very interesting work, often in fields completely unrelated to their multiple undergrad and graduate degrees. I think the love of learning and willingness to explore new areas that are often characteristic of RC students contributes to a sense that they can try all sorts of things and succeed. There seems to less emphasis on getting those terminal degrees that define your career from there on out, and more a sense that learning is a lifelong journey. When learning new things comes pretty easy, it's a lot less scary to switch directions whenever you get bored. They might end up feeling more free and less "locked in" than the rest of the us down the road. I certainly never got the sense that they experience higher rates of career dissatisfaction as a result of choosing an initial direction a few years younger.