Summer Institute FAQ for U.S./American Students




How much does it cost to apply? 

There is no fee to apply.

How much does it cost to attend? 

Tuition and transportation to and from the Summer Institute is covered for participants. Room and board, materials, instructor fees, printing and photocopying, and van transportation during the program are all fully funded. 


What exactly are you looking for in a student? 

First and foremost, we want someone who is passionate about creative writing. In the writing samples we want to see what best represents you as a writer today. Given our belief that in order to write, you have to read, we expect you to be an avid reader as well. You don't necessarily have to have received straight As in your English or literature classes, nor will we make you quote U.S., Indian, or Pakistani authors at will. 

Since you will be spending a lot of time with fellow students, teachers, and staff from different countries and cultures, it's very important that you be open to learning about the many different ways people live in the world and willing to share your own life experiences and unique point of view. Our ultimate goal is to create a community of friends that will continue to support each other in their creative efforts long after they have all gone home. 

This program is designed to be a two-week exploration of self and the other, of participants’ identities and their relations with one another, of personal and national histories and lived realities. This may be accompanied by moments or extended periods of confusion, discomfort, and even personal trial. On the other hand, such exploration can be a growth experience and a learning opportunity. It could even be transformative. All these possibilities are normal and, in many ways, to be expected. It is important that you, as an applicant, be aware of the kind of program to which you are applying. 

How old do I have to be to participate? 

Participants must be age 18-22 by the start of the program. 

Do I have to know another language to participate? 

All students from the U.S., India, and Pakistan are required to be proficient in English in all forms (reading, writing, and speaking). Knowledge of another language is not required, but it is a definite plus, particularly if you are currently studying another language, or if you grew up in a home or community where different languages are regularly used. There will be a lot of cross-translation going on! 

Can I include work from different languages in my writing samples? 

All U.S./American students must submit their writing samples in English. Throughout the Summer Institute, there will be opportunities to utilize any knowledge you have of other languages through collaborative translation activities. 

Can I include the same story and/or poem in two different languages? 

No. Each work submitted should be original and untranslated. 

Can I include essays, school newspaper articles, or blog entries in my writing sample? 

If these contain original fiction, poetry, etc., then yes, it can be included. Otherwise, we are only interested in reading your original writing.  

I'm a teacher who would like to send a recommendation letter for a student. Are there any guidelines I should follow? 

Recommendation letters are not required for applications to this program. If you still feel you would like to submit one, simply tell us why you think the student would be a good fit for the program. 

How do you select students for the program? 

A committee reviews all applications and supplemental materials and determines the final group of students. 

When will applicants be notified? 

Applicants will be notified in the month of April. 


Where will students live? 

Students will live in a dorm on the University of Iowa campus. Dorms are clean, comfortable, well-lit, and very secure. Doors are locked each night and security personnel visit each floor regularly. A residence hall manager is available 24 hours a day. Students will be on floors separated by gender, and will live in double rooms. Also living with the students will be resident advisors (RAs), who are hired by the program and undergo background checks and University training. They help maintain a fun but safe environment. The advisors are also current graduate or undergraduate students and love to talk to our students about the university writing life. 

I live close to the University of Iowa. Can I reside at home during the program? 

No. The Summer Institute requires all participants to live in the dorm for the duration of the program. 

I have friends or relatives in the Iowa City area. Can I reside with them during the program? 

No. The Summer Institute requires all participants to live in the dorm for the duration of the program. 

Can I have a car on campus? 

If you drive to the University of Iowa, you must plan to store your car for the duration of the program. Students must be accompanied by program staff on all trips involving car transportation during their stay here. Violating this rule is grounds for dismissal. 

What happens if there's a health concern or emergency? 

It is expected that U.S./American students will have their own medical insurance. If a student falls ill or is injured, he/she will be taken to the appropriate local medical facility. All costs are the responsibility of the students and/or parents. 


Do you offer college credit for this program or the courses taken? 


What will a typical weekday be like? 

Mornings will be spent in master classes led by experts in various fields with a focus on creative writing and narrative. Master classes—two-to-three hour sessions on a particular aspect of writing, identity, communication, or study—allow for the widest possible array of topics, and a schedule tailored to participants. Afternoons will be reserved for generative writing sessions led by mentors, as well as panels and discussions designed to work through conversations of identity and cultural biases, and promote team-building and collaboration. Evenings may include literary readings, open mic nights, movies, special workshops focused on slam poetry, screenwriting, graphic novels, or other topics, as well as free time to write and socialize, and other programming to be determined. Also, participants will spend an afternoon at a nearby lake, where they may swim, paddle boat, share a picnic lunch, and spend time in unstructured conversation and relationship building. 

Do you offer writing workshops with focuses on countries other than India and Pakistan? 

The Summer Institute will only offer workshops focused on these countries. 

What can you tell me about the instructors in the program? 

The Summer Institute carefully chooses writers who are also great teachers. Please see a list of the 2019 Mentors here.

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