Now that school is officially underway, students have a chance to look back on their summers and the things they accomplished and experienced. This summer I had the opportunity to attend Duke TIP Summer Studies at the University of Georgia. I spent three weeks learning about philosophy and meeting people from all over the U.S. When I tell people I attend an academic summer camp, it is often greeted with laughter and while, yes, some consider it “nerd camp,” it is a very special place for students to learn and grow in so many different aspects. TIP gave me a new perspective on learning and also gave me an opportunity to explore different career paths and learn more about my academic interests. Not only did I learn about Plato and The Allegory of the Cave, but also how to maneuver the laundry room in the residence hall. Despite the huge academic impact attending Duke TIP had on me, I think the people I was surrounded by for three weeks impacted me the most. In the classroom, my peers were supportive and created an environment that made even the most boring lessons seem interesting and important. Outside the classroom, my peers taught me a number of things, from how to correctly throw a frisbee to the importance of kindness and inclusiveness.
Sara McCown attended Duke TIP in 2015 and 2016 and she stated, “TIP was one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life. It taught me to love and respect people from differing backgrounds and beliefs and really forced me to open my mind to a new way of thinking. When you tell people that you took a class for three weeks on your own free will, they look at you like you’re insane. But the way it was structured at TIP reminded me of how much I genuinely enjoy learning and exposing myself to new concepts.” I asked Sara if the program made her feel more prepared for college and she answered with a definite yes; “I absolutely feel better prepared after my six weeks at TIP. I feel as if I learned so much, not just intellectually, but socially as well that I’ll be ready to embrace the diversity and vast change of college next year, partly because I had the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing program.” During your time spent at TIP, you learn to live with another person and are forced to be flexible and to think of others. You are also given a large amount of responsibility, which comes with the opportunity to step up and handle it responsibly.
One of the most important values I learned while at TIP was respect. Respect is a word that is thrown around a lot, but it is not necessarily understood. From respecting my professors and teaching assistants, to respecting my fellow students, I learned the importance of listening to someone, even if I did not agree with them, and from that, I gained perspective. One of the hardest lessons I ever had to learn is that there are two sides to every story, and I learned that lesson at TIP. The Duke TIP summer studies program began in 1985, so there are many traditions throughout the camp, and respecting them is highly important. On traditions, Sara commented: “I’d heard from a few friends that it was an experience they’d never forget and I always got confused when they’d cry after hearing “American Pie” by Don McLean (one of the traditions), but now I couldn’t agree more.”