Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS)

Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS)

What is TASS?

The Telluride Association Summer Seminar (TASS) is a free, six-week summer educational experience for high school sophomores and juniors. TASS prepares and inspires promising young students to lead and serve through transformative educational experiences rooted in critical thinking and democratic community. Telluride Association covers all program costs for every student, including tuition, books, room and board, field trips, and facilities fees.

  • 2024 Program Dates: June 23-August 3
  • 2024 Program Locations: Cornell University, University of Maryland, and University of Michigan

Who is eligible to apply?

TASS applications are open to all high school sophomores and juniors (“rising juniors” and “rising seniors”). Participants must be at least age 15 and no older than age 18 at the start of the program (June 23, 2024). Both US and international students are welcome to apply. We admit applicants from all backgrounds, and welcome applications from Black and Indigenous students, other students of color, and/or students who have experienced economic hardship. We seek students who are intellectually curious, community-minded, and self-motivated.

We have received a number of questions from international students about eligibility. To clarify our grade level definition, you are eligible to apply to TASS during your sophomore (second) and junior (third) years of high school.

  • If you do not have a four-year high school curriculum, you are eligible to apply if you were born any time between June 24, 2005 and June 23, 2009.
  • If you have a four-year high school curriculum, but your academic year does not correspond to the US/Canada academic year, you are eligible to apply if you were born any time between June 24, 2005 and June 23, 2009.

Application Timeline

  • Nominations will open in October 2023
  • Applications will open in November 2023
  • Applicants will be selected in spring 2024
  • Learn more: TASS Application Timeline

What are the TASS programs?

Our Telluride Association Summer Seminars (TASS) study how power and privilege shape social structures through courses in humanities and social sciences. You may apply to one of two areas of study.

  • TASS-CBS (Critical Black Studies) offers seminars that explore topics within history, politics, literature, art, and other intellectual and cultural contributions from people of African descent.
  • TASS-AOS (Anti-Oppressive Studies) considers systems of power and oppression including white supremacy, patriarchy, and classism, and considers ways to transform society.

What do program participants do?


If you participate in TASS, you will attend a three-hour college-level class each weekday, which will typically include discussions, small-group work, lectures by faculty, and other activities. You will be expected to read books and articles, view films and art, and participate in other class activities. You will also write essays during the summer, with help and feedback from the instructor team.


Outside of class, you and your fellow TASSers will work together to democratically make decisions, from planning group activities and outings, creating an inclusive community, planning community service projects, and spending from a program budget. You will also learn and practice transformative justice to strengthen the community and work through internal conflicts. And you will participate in a public speaking program with your classmates and hear lectures from guest speakers visiting the TASS house.

Who teaches TASS?

Two experienced faculty members teach each class. All of our faculty are enthusiastic about the program, and they often rank TASS as one of their most rewarding experiences as teachers. TASS seminars are college-level, emphasizing small-group discussion rather than lectures. Guided by faculty, students form a community of scholars and develop critical reading and writing skills.

In addition to the instructor team, there are two resident advisors and teaching assistants called “factotums” assigned to each program. They lead writing workshops and provide additional help to students with critical reading and writing skills, in addition to guiding the community outside of class. They live with the students, helping them create a tight-knit environment where students can explore the principles and practices of community living, democracy, and transformative justice.

What will I get out of TASS?

At TASS, you will improve your reading, writing, speaking, and critical thinking skills as you explore your interests in and out of the classroom. In order to encourage students in their love of learning, the program does not assign grades. You will also learn about and explore topics and ideas within history, politics, literature, art, and other disciplines. Finally, you will gain experience with community living, democratic decision-making, and transformative justice.

TASS is completely free!

We cover all of the program costs—tuition, books, room and board, and field trips—for every student. If you need, we can help pay for all or part of your travel costs to and from the program. We understand that you may normally spend time in the summer working at a job, taking care of family members, or supporting your family in other ways. If this is the situation for you, we can provide additional financial aid to help replace earnings from your summer job. Financial aid decisions are made separately from decisions about program admission, so needing financial aid won’t affect whether you are accepted to the program.

“TASS was truly a transformative experience…my incredible professors, factotums, and peers pushed me to better understand the path to a better world for all.”

2022 TASS Participant