Gifted Students Immersed in College Life During Baylor TIP Summer Residential Camp

June 28, 2024
TIP Engineering Students

High-ability students in grades 8-12 experienced college life, including challenging academic courses in engineering and other topics, in the first-ever Baylor Talent Identification Program (TIP) residential camps. (Photo courtesy of Baylor School of Education)

Contact: Kelly Craine, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-297-9065
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WACO, Texas (June 28, 2024) – For the first time this summer, the Baylor University Talent Identification Program (TIP) in the School of Education hosted residential camps for high-ability gifted students in grades 8 through 12 in June on the Baylor campus. 

Baylor TIP, a program of the Baylor Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, identifies exceptional talent in pre-collegiate students and provides world-class learning opportunities for the exceptional potential of the students.

“As the only Christian university that hosts a Talent Identification Program for adolescent students, Baylor TIP challenges students to fully develop the academic gifts that God has given them and to use those gifts for the greater good,” said Cheryl Taliaferro, Ph.D., director of pre-collegiate programs for Baylor TIP.

Immersive learning experience

More than 100 students took part in the TIP camps, staying in a Baylor residence hall and taking courses during one – or more – of three one-week sessions. The camp created a truly immersive Baylor experience, with students getting a glimpse of what a first year in college is like: taking challenging courses, engaging with roommates and new friends, enjoying recreational facilities and experiencing campus dining.

“College freshmen have to juggle a lot of demands at once – a new environment, getting along with a roommate, doing their own laundry, making friends – all while taking classes that are often significantly more challenging than any classes they have taken in the past,” Taliaferro said. “Students in our residential program get to practice all of those skills in a safe and supportive environment over shorter periods of time.”

Academically, students explored a subject of their choice in depth, attending interactive classes from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with an evening study session available. All courses are taught by subject matter experts, including those with doctoral degrees in their area of expertise. Course topics include:

  • Anatomy
  • Astronautical Engineering
  • College Admissions Boot Camp
  • Creative Writing
  • Engineering (extra session opened due to high demand)
  • Human Research and Introductory Statistics
  • Marketing
  • Mock Trial
  • Social Psychology
  • Sports Medicine
  • Theater Arts

"By this point in their education, our students are hungry for more advanced content knowledge,” Taliaferro said. “All of our instructors must have completed some graduate-level coursework in the field they are teaching or have equivalent professional experience. For example, our three engineering instructors included one with a Ph.D. in electrical engineering, one who is working on her Ph.D. at Rice and a third with a master’s degree and engineering experience in both military and corporate settings.”

In addition, Baylor TIP benefitted from the expertise of Baylor alumni, faculty and staff. Chris Becker, Ph.D.,  director of the Baylor Sciences Building and Mass Spectrometry Center, led engineering classes on a tour of the BSB's research labs. Several researchers stopped their work to talk to students about their current projects, Taliaferro said. Baylor athletic trainer Joe Smith guided the sports medicine class through the football training facilities, explaining the hard work of athletic trainers behind the scenes, while Baylor alumnus Ben Christie spent time with the marketing class about his successful use of social media to help support his nonprofit, Urban Rescue Ranch.

Unique learning experience

Baylor TIP Creative Writing Students

Baylor TIP’s first residential camp received good reviews from students. Ninth-grader Miller Epperson from Belton took creative writing the first week and said she enjoyed the different writing exercises and getting to make new friends. 

“It’s different from school because, in my English classes, we dabble in a bunch of different things, and here we can really zone in on a topic,” she said. “What I love about Baylor TIP is there are so many options. There are a lot of opportunities, and you can explore different things, or you can stick to one thing.”

Baylor has offered enrichment courses for gifted students since 1983, when the School of Education’s University for Young People first began hosting students on campus in a variety of academic subjects. In 1999, these courses came under the umbrella of a center, now called Baylor Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development, and the center began offering a scholarship program that same year. This summer is the first opportunity for students to live on the Baylor campus while taking enrichment courses and includes students in the scholarship program.

Baylor TIP also will offer a non-residential day camp for students in intermediate grades (4-7) the week of July 8. Information on the Baylor TIP admissions process and programming is available on the Baylor TIP website


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.


For more than 100 years, the School of Education has advanced Baylor’s mission across the globe while preparing students for a range of careers focused on education, leadership, and human development. With more than 60 full-time faculty members, the school’s growing research portfolio complements its long-standing commitment to excellence in teaching and student mentoring. Baylor’s undergraduate program in teacher education has earned national distinction for innovative partnerships with local schools that provide future teachers deep clinical preparation. Likewise, the School of Education’s graduate programs have attained national recognition for their exemplary preparation of research scholars, educational leaders, innovators, and clinicians. Visit the School of Education website to learn more.