BEAM College Prep Week

BEAM alumni, (clockwise from top left) Ana, Ariel, John, Crisleidy, and Quentin, speak with BEAM 11th and 12th graders about college admissions and college life.

BEAM alumni, (clockwise from top left) Ana, Ariel, John, Crisleidy, and Quentin, speak with BEAM 11th and 12th graders about college admissions and college life.

During College Prep Week, BEAM alumni offered great advice for the gathered 11th and 12th graders about getting into and through college.

Here’s just a little bit of what they said:

Question — What’s one piece of advice you wish you’d had while you were applying to colleges?

  • Get someone who doesn’t know you to read your essay; it can be uncomfortable but it made my essay better.

  • Find a set time and dedicate it to college stuff (like Thursday office hours at BEAM).

  • The library is your best friend. Use it during free periods, after school, whenever you can.

  • Don’t apply to 18 colleges.

In a week of workshops, BEAM students learned about college admissions, financial aid, choosing the right college, standardized tests, and more. Twelfth graders worked on college essays.

Oh, and there was Jeopardy!

Vanessa said about College Prep Week, “I learned about FAFSA, CSS, TAP, QuestBridge, and how BEAM will help me. I feel more prepared to approach the college process."

Recruiting and Selecting BEAM Students: A First Hand Account

Today, we have a guest blog post from long-time BEAM volunteer, Maury Bohan, who is also a retired 6th grade math teacher. Maury accompanied our staff on an admissions school visit back in March and had the following to say about her experience. While BEAM’s admissions season is over (it runs January-March), we’re always thinking ahead to next year, when we can’t wait to meet 6th graders in Los Angeles and New York City who are applying to our entry level program, BEAM Discovery.

Early in March, on a Wednesday morning, I had the pleasure of joining Lynn Cartwright-Punnett at PS 171/Patrick Henry Preparatory School in East Harlem, which has been a BEAM partner school since 2014. I had wanted to participate in a visit to one of BEAM’s partner schools, and Lynn felt it would be beneficial if we used the visit as a chance to share details with our many volunteers, instructors, and supporters.

A 7th grader works on the Admissions Challenge.

A 7th grader works on the Admissions Challenge.

We began the morning with eight 7th graders, two of whom attended last summer’s BEAM Discovery program. The goal was to check in on what the BEAM Discovery alumni were doing and also to identify any 7th graders who we had not met in 6th grade, who would benefit from joining our program, AND who could succeed despite not having attended last summer. Lynn shared the goals of the BEAM Pathway Program, which include “…going farther than you expect, learning more, and exploring new ideas.” In addition to the potentially overwhelming information that the students would be with BEAM all the way through college, she also tempted the young students with details about dorm life, field trips, and good, hard brain work. After responding to questions, Lynn handed out the Admissions Challenge — seven questions to be completed in 40 minutes, and explained that the goal is not to do all of it perfectly, but rather “to figure out what you can figure out.”

7th graders at another BEAM partner school, KIPP Infinity, tell their 6th grade colleagues about BEAM Discovery.

7th graders at another BEAM partner school, KIPP Infinity, tell their 6th grade colleagues about BEAM Discovery.

After the 7th graders left the room, we were joined by a new crew of about fifteen 6th graders. They were physically so much younger than the 7th graders — clearly still children — and obviously nervous. Lynn immediately put them at ease, asking what they already knew about BEAM Discovery — basically that it is a summer math program five days per week for five weeks. She shared the daily schedule, and the goal to challenge brains, to grow and do more than students could do before, and to be a member of a math-loving community. Again there was talk of preparation for college, in terms of how choosing courses and activities during the summer is a way to start building autonomy so as to eventually be ready for decision making in college. Lynn then handed out the Admissions Challenge, and reminded students that “The goal isn’t perfect work; it’s interesting work.

Besides the results of the students’ work on the Admissions Challenge, there are a few other ways for them to demonstrate their potential as a BEAM student. They are all asked to share how they felt about the challenge and what they liked about it. They are also given some extra problems to do at home and send back, which can show readiness and interest, and allow students to perform while not under time pressure.

There is a third way that a student might earn some unofficial points toward gaining a slot in a BEAM program, and it was demonstrated after the sixth graders left us. Lynn earlier had an opportunity to quickly review the 7th graders’ responses to their Admissions Challenge and had asked the school contact person to bring one student back to our classroom for an interview. This would allow Lynn to ascertain whether the student is as ready for this summer’s 7th grade program as all the incoming alumni of last summer’s Discovery Program will be. I enjoyed listening first as the two of them chatted about school and math, and the student’s personal life. She shared that her life outside of school is mostly homework, supporting a younger sister’s homework, and church. She has never been outside of New York City, and wants to be a veterinarian when she grows up. What is she most concerned about in regards to BEAM’s summer program? That it is a sleep away program!

After chatting, Lynn and the student got down to work, discussing some great math problems. How encouraging it was for me to observe their back and forth, and the young lady’s willingness to draw conclusions, and then re-evaluate them given Lynn’s prodding. The student’s patience, persistence, and flexible thinking seemed to me qualities that will make her succeed, and that BEAM would benefit from. And this is where those unofficial points toward entrance come in to play. “Slant points” are like an additional note, one which this girl definitely received, that says if there is a tie for a slot at BEAM, this student has that “something extra” that makes her the preferred candidate.

As a retired teacher, I can’t imagine many more encouraging mornings than watching all of these 6th and 7th graders voluntarily meeting with a stranger to demonstrate their interest and talent in mathematical thinking. I can’t wait to hear which students are joining us this summer, and I look forward to seeing them grow and thrive through high school.

Maury works with Alberto and Rebecca on trivia questions at BEAM’s annual night of puzzles and trivia.

Maury works with Alberto and Rebecca on trivia questions at BEAM’s annual night of puzzles and trivia.

College Decision Day: Congratulations BEAM Seniors!

On Thursday, May 10th, BEAM students joined 12th graders across the city for College Decision Day at the Apollo Theater!  Nine BEAM 12th graders joined 200+ high school seniors from around the city who announced their college plans on stage... at the Apollo Theater!

We're pleased to announce the schools that the following students will be attending:

Images from left to right display: Aisha (Northwestern), Malachi (Binghamton), Tanasia (Rochester), Aishat (Yale), Will (Haverford), Henry (UMass Amherst), Ariel (Brandeis), Eli (Howard), Vielka (SUNY ESF), and Abrahan (BMCC). 

BEAM 11th graders: don't forget that College Kickoff is on Saturday, May 19!  In one year, you too could be on the stage of the Apollo Theater as we cheer for you. 

The BEAM group at the Apollo Theater for College Decision Day

In addition to these 10 students, we want to give a shout-out to all our graduating seniors. Here's a list of BEAM students currently ready to announce their college decisions: 

  • Abrahan: Borough of Manhattan Community College, CUNY

  • Andy: Baruch College, CUNY

  • Aisha: Northwestern University

  • Aishat: Yale University

  • Aleks: Penn State

  • Alex: Vanderbilt

  • Ariel: Brandeis University

  • Christian: LaGuardia Community College, CUNY

  • Edson: University of Southern California

  • Eli: Howard University

  • Henry: UMass Amherst

  • Janequa: Cornell University

  • Joel: Hunter College, CUNY

  • LaRoi: Gettysburg College

  • Malachi: Binghamton University, SUNY

  • Melanie: New York University

  • Michael: The City College of New York, CUNY

  • Mona: Barnard College

  • Pamela: Smith College

  • Peter: University of Maryland, Baltimore County

  • Seth: John Jay College, CUNY

  • Tanasia: University of Rochester

  • Thalyia: City Tech, CUNY

  • Tia: Delaware State University

  • Vielka: SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry

  • Will: Haverford College

We also have at least two students taking a gap year: Crisleidy will be working at City Year (an Americorps program) while James will be joining the Marines. Both intend to attend college later. 

BEAM students were also awarded many scholarships and other forms of financial aid:

  • The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation College Scholarship Program provides selected students with a full ride to the colleges they plan to attend. (awarded to Aishat)

  • The Posse Scholars Program provides selected students with a full ride, as well as connections to other students in their area who attend the same college they plan to attend. (awarded to Ariel)

  • The QuestBridge National College Match Program provides a full ride through college to students who are accepted at one of the program's partnering schools. (awarded to Will)

  • The Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) provides students from New York who attend a New York private college or university with a scholarship, dedicated advisor, and additional support during their time in college. (awarded to Mona, Tanasia)

  • And numerous other students were offered amazing financial aid packages by the college they will attend. The scholarships provided by Cornell, Gettysburg, Northwestern, Smith, and USC are particularly generous, as these schools meet 100% of demonstrated need. That means that a low-income student can expect to pay nothing for college. In one case, a scholarship was so generous that a student actually gets money back to pay for expenses that may come up, such as flights to and from home at the start and end of each semester!

Our seniors did an incredible amount of work to get through high school and to this day.  Congratulations to you all! 11th graders: now it's your turn and BEAM is here for you. 

In addition to all these students going to great colleges, at least one BEAM senior will be taking a productive gap year. Congratulations to Crisleidy who will be working at City Year next year! 

Finally, for those following along at home, here is a list of the colleges to which BEAM students were admitted this year:

















Barnard College
Baruch College, CUNY
Binghamton University, SUNY
Brandeis University
Brooklyn College, CUNY
The City College of New York, CUNY
Clarkson University
The College at Brockport, SUNY
College of Staten Island, CUNY
Cornell University
Delaware State University
Drexel University
Duke University
Emerson College
Gettysburg College
Haverford College
Howard University
LaGuardia Community College, CUNY
Lehman College, CUNY
Macalester College
Manhattan College
New York City College of Technology, CUNY
New York Institute of Technology
Northwestern University
Pennsylvania State University
Pomona College
Purdue University
Queens College, CUNY
Rochester Institute of Technology
Spelman College
St. John’s University
Stony Brook University, SUNY
SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry
SUNY Geneseo
SUNY Maritime College
SUNY New Paltz
SUNY Oswego
SUNY Polytechnic Institute
Swarthmore College
Syracuse University
Temple University
University at Albany, SUNY
University at Buffalo, SUNY
University of Connecticut
University of Kentucky
University of Massachusetts Amherst
University of Rochester
University of Southern California
University of Virginia
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Vanderbilt University
Vassar College
Wesleyan University
Xavier University
Yale University
Then: Oh, how time flies! Students seen here at BEAM 7 in 2013 are going off to college next year!

Then: Oh, how time flies! Students seen here at BEAM 7 in 2013 are going off to college next year!

And now: Aisha, Malachi, Will, Vielka, Henry, Eli, Ariel, Tanasia, and Aishat proudly show off their college t-shirts.

And now: Aisha, Malachi, Will, Vielka, Henry, Eli, Ariel, Tanasia, and Aishat proudly show off their college t-shirts.

Congratulations!  We are so proud of you all!

NYC High School Admissions: Conquering the Labyrinth

Last weekend, thousands of eighth graders lined up outside of Brooklyn Technical High School to attend the New York City High School Fair. Students and parents had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the high school admissions process and meet with representatives from high schools all over the city in hopes of finding the right ones to apply to.

It is no secret that the NYC high school admissions process is a maze! The application process has many obstacles to get through, some of which include: taking a test, writing an essay, submitting a portfolio, attending an open house and more - just to be considered! Without navigating through these obstacles, the chances of getting in to a great-fit high school are real hard. For BEAM students, a great-ft school is one that offers advanced coursework such as AP Physics and AP Calculus, the opportunity to take college courses, a supportive and nurturing environment and the opportunity for college guidance and readiness. 

Here are some common "big-picture" errors students make on their high school application (Round 1 form):

  • Not doing enough research. It's important that students do their research on each school they are interested in. Many high ranking schools require tests (like the specialized high schools), essays (like Manhattan/Hunter Science HS), portfolios (like Columbia Secondary HS), or a mixture of these (Bard High School/Early College, BHSEC). Do your research early so that you can be ahead of the game and have a plan to get all these things done on time. Go on school's websites, visit, or call the school directly. 
  • Be sure to know which schools are "limited unscreen." Limited unscreen schools are schools that only look at your attendance at an open house. They are a good opportunity to get a fresh start if your transcript is rocky. Open house dates are available online, usually on a school's website. Sometimes you might have to call a school directly and get information that way. Also, attending open houses allow you the opportunity to see if you can actually envision yourself in the school for four years. 
  • Look at the requirements of "screened" schools. A screened school is one that looks at your transcript - this includes: 7th grade grades, state test scores and attendance and punctuality. You want to make sure that you are applying to schools that you have a good chance of getting in to. When looking at schools that you are interested in, make sure grade ranges and state test scores match your transcript. If you have too many absences but have a legitimate reason (ie: medical, or family issues) don't hesitate to write the school a letter. Schools understand that life happens, and being honest and up front is the right thing to do. 
  • Rank schools in the order YOU want to go to them. Schools cannot see how you rank them. Some schools may tell you that you have to rank them #1 in order to be accepted - that is false information! Seriously, rank the schools in the order you want. Ultimately, you will be spending four years there. 
  • Know what a good schools has to offer YOU. Make sure the schools you are looking for have what you need in order to be successful. For most BEAM students this means: AP Calculus and AP sciences (Biology, Chemistry, Physics). For others it might be a great Lacrosse or Basketball team or the opportunity to join a Robotics or Debate club. Remember that you will spend almost half of your day in this school - make sure the school has things that you will benefit from and enjoy. 

Here are some small logistical things to watch out for:

  • Double and triple check your Round 1 form! Make sure codes and school names match. If they don't, your guidance counselor might not catch it and you may end up being accepted in to the wrong school. 
  • Use all 12 spaces. Make sure you completely fill out your Round 1 form. It is better to get in to a Round 1 school (even LOW on your list) than to have no school and be stuck in Round 2. 
  • Remember that some schools may count twice. For example, the Manhattan and Queens campuses of BHSEC or the multiple programs at Midwood. If you really want to go to these schools, use two spaces on your Round 1 form to put both programs down. Not only do you take up two spaces on your form, but you increase your chances of being admitted. Some of our alumni have even had luck transferring from programs in their first or second year in the school. 

Hear what our experts have to say about their high school admissions process!

“BEAM showed me my options. They provided me with personalized school directories which led me to search for best-fit schools, on my own.”
— Iroha, 10th grader, Manhattan Center for Science and Math
I went to the Citywide High School Fair with BEAM. They taught me how to shake hands and introduce myself. While there, I talked with the Assistant Principal of the Academy for Software Engineering (AFSE). I really liked her and the school, so I went to an Open House to learn more. I ended up ranking it first and got in.
— Mona, 12th grader, Academy for Software Engineering

For more general information, go here:

BEAM 6 Family Lunch

This past Saturday, April 29th, our new BEAM 6 students and their families attended our Family Welcome Lunch to learn more about the program. Our BEAM 6 alumni joined us to talk to families about what it's really like to be a BEAM 6 student. Kai, Lismary, Maryam, Storm and Thays talked about why they chose to come to BEAM and gave our future BEAM 6ers some GREAT advice! Read more from our experts! 

question: Why did you decide to come to beam?

Math was too simple in my school. I wanted something to challenge me.
— Storm, 7th grade
I came to BEAM to learn advanced math because my school didn’t provide it.
— Kai, 7th grade

Question: What was your favorite part of beam?

It was great to be in a community with other students that love math too. I’ve always loved math but was never challenged.
— Lismary, 7th grade
In my school it is rare to like math. BEAM 6 allowed me to meet people that also liked math and be in a community of dedicated people.
You want students to have all the possibilities and BEAM did that for me.
— Thays, 7th grade

question: How is 7th grade like, After having finished beam?

I take a regents math class and I use what I learned in BEAM 6 to answer difficult questions.
— Maryam, 7th grade
Going back to my class was easy, but I also learned how to approach problems differently
— Kai, 7th grade

Welcome 6th graders! We are so excited to spend our summer with you. 

They're off to college! Congrats to BEAM 12th Graders

BEAM 2012

Five years ago, these students were 7th graders heading to BEAM for the first time. Today, they are 12th graders who are one month away from high school graduation!

While we haven't yet heard back from all 38 BEAM alumni, we want to take a minute to congratulate these students on their admissions results!  

  • Abdel: New York University

  • Abdoulaye: George Washington University

  • Amy: Fordham University

  • Ana: Barnard College

  • Angelina: University of Rochester

  • Ashlee: SUNY Albany

  • Derek: Colby College

  • Dominic: Pace University

  • Emalee: Hunter College (CUNY)

  • Greiny: SUNY Geneseo

  • Gustavo: Brooklyn College (CUNY)

  • Isaiah: SUNY Potsdam

  • Jahdel: City Tech

  • Jamila: Howard University

  • Joel: Wesleyan University

  • John: Fordham University

  • Kiara D: Lehigh University

  • Kiara J: John Jay College

  • Loquan: SUNY Albany

  • Nathaniel: Bronx Community College

  • Nicole: New York University

  • Quentin: Ithaca College

  • Salimatou: Baruch College (CUNY)

  • Shaunicia: University of Bridgeport

  • Stephanie: SUNY Plattsburgh

  • Taylor: Allegheny College

  • Zereena: SUNY Binghamton

Check back on this post throughout the spring: college decisions will be added as we hear back!

Navigating the High School Maze and BEAM's Plans for Expansions


It's time for the BEAM quarterly newsletter!  In this Winter 2017 issue, learn about how we help students navigate high school admissions, our plans for expansion, available jobs at BEAM, and an update on admissions for 

Read the full newsletter online and sign up at the bottom of our page to receive future editions. 

Admissions Week

It's Admissions Week!  Our BEAM 7 admissions decisions go out tomorrow and our BEAM 6 decisions follow next Friday.

One of the most interesting aspects of BEAM 7 for 2017 is that we are, for the first time ever, admitting many students we already know -- alumni of BEAM 6! All BEAM 7 applicants take our admissions challenge, featuring problems similar to those detailed in the New York Times feature about BEAM and BEAM 6 -- problems that test thinking without relying too heavily on background knowledge. Promising candidates new to BEAM are also invited to an interview to get to know the student and to get to know their mathematical skills by doing problems together.

Our BEAM 6 alums, however, skipped the interviews: we already know them! Instead, they were asked to submit applications to allow us to gauge what they gained from BEAM 6, why they want to attend BEAM 7, and how BEAM can help them reach their goals. Here are some of our favorite responses:







Ivy Harvard.jpg








Thays next steps.jpg


We are thrilled to have 28 BEAM 6 alumni among the students coming to Bard College for BEAM 7 this summer, and to admit 54 student who are new to us as well! Congratulations to all!