Talented & Gifted Program

General Information

TAG Student Handbook


Courses are taught by experts in their field; college professors, g/t teachers, and practitioners. A full-time director leads the residence hall activities. College students with strong academic backgrounds serve as Resident Assistants (RAs). Each student is assigned to a family group led by an RA who is trained in the special social and affective needs of the gifted student.

Instructional Strategies

Strategies that have been shown to be particularly effective in stimulating the interest and ability of gifted students are used in the classroom. In addition to more traditional methods, such as lecture and discussion, instructors use hands-on methods of learning that promote active participation and higher order thinking. Such hands-on strategies include debates, construction of models or plans, simulations, dramatic performances, and other demonstrations or projects.


Students dine with the RAs and other TAG staff in designated SMU dining facilities. Portions are generous and refills unlimited. Many vegetarian meals are available; hot entrees, fruits and salads are offered at each meal along with sandwiches and cereal. The fare is typically institutional.


Dress on campus is casual. Students may wear shorts, t-shirts, or other casual clothes that are neat, clean, and appropriate.  Shoes are required in all cases.

Electronic Devices

Students may bring computers and other electronic equipment to camp at their own risk for use in their rooms, which should be kept locked. Computer labs are available in the afternoons and evenings.

Recreational Time

Each day, Monday through Friday, a recreational time is held at the close of classes. Students may participate in swimming, chess, music practice, fitness activities, impromptu sports, games, or just visit with friends. Students may checkout of the residence hall to the student center, library, etc. Study is always possible at this time.

Study Hall

All students are required to observe a quiet study time in their own rooms each evening.


Evening activities designed to be a blend of learning, entertainment and enjoyment are offered each night. Some of the activities that have been popular in the past involve musical performances, dance groups, student talent shows, bowling, and movies. Students may "opt out" of the activity only for supervised study.

TAG Family Group Time

This is a time each evening when groups meet with their RAs. Lights-out for students is 11:00 p.m.

Weekend Events

Students attend Saturday morning classes. Special off-campus trips are planned for Saturday afternoons. In the past, trips have included  service projects, ice skating, walking tours, and museum visits. All students participate. Sunday is a day to relax and rejuvenate. Students may plan to attend church services, sleep late, relax with their friends, or study. Several different worship services are held on or near campus. Students interested in attending religious services should make their wishes known at the beginning of the camp. Transportation to and from local religious services may be provided.

Closing Activities

SMU/TAG classes conclude on Friday, July 24. Students have their lunch as usual following the morning class. Two adult family members are invited to a Parents Reception. Immediately following the reception, parents and other family members may visit classrooms and meet TAG faculty members. The closing ceremony will follow the visitation. Dress for the TAG closing ceremony is pleasant but not elaborate.


Letters from each student's teachers are sent to the parents approximately three weeks after the session concludes. An official transcript can be obtained from SMU's Registrar's Office at www.smu.edu/registrar/transcripts.asp.  An unofficial transcript can be obtained through the student's account at access.smu.edu.


Opening day is Sunday, July 5, 2015. Closing day is Friday, July 24, 2015.


The application fee is $35. The 2015 program cost is $3900, which includes tuition, room and board (including linen service), books, and most supplies. A limited numbers of scholarships are awarded on the basis of need.  all TAG students are required to live on campus during the entirety of the program.  All TAG students live on campus for the entirety of the program.

Need-Based Scholarships

A limited number of scholarships based on demonstrated need are available. Applicants will be notified of the amount of available scholarship monies upon acceptance. Because scholarship resources are limited, students seeking financial assistance are advised to apply as early as possible. Aid requests must include a completed Need-Based Scholarship Form (with all requested information provided), a copy of the Parents’/Guardians’ 2013 federal income tax form—or, if it is not available, a copy of the 2012 return and a copy of the 2013 W-2 form(s). Need-based scholarship awards for early applications will be reviewed in late March. The deadline for early applications for scholarships is March 25th. Need-based scholarship applications for late applicants will be reviewed in late April.  The deadline for late applicants for scholarship is April 28th. 

Tower Scholarships for the Study of Politics and Government

Southern Methodist University created The John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies to commemorate the late U.S. Senator whose life was dedicated to understanding the needs and challenges of a world that has become a global village. The mission of the Tower Center includes a commitment to developing new teaching programs which encourage outstanding students to undertake the study of politics and to enter public service.

As part of its mission, the Tower Center has established the Tower Institute. The Institute, a summer program for study of politics and government, is offered in conjunction with SMU’s Talented and Gifted Program and is for TAG students. Beginning in the summer of 1997, up to five scholarships are provided annually. Recipients of these scholarships are designated “Tower Scholars.” Unlike other TAG scholarships, Tower awards can be made based on merit as well as financial need.

Students wishing to be considered for a Tower Scholarship must apply to the Talented and Gifted Program and be formally accepted into the program. Potential recipients must also agree to enroll in the Political Science course offered, or (if a previous scholar) another designated course and to undertake some independent, preparatory work prior to the start of the official TAG Program.

In addition, those wishing to be considered as “Tower Scholars” must attach the following to the application forms for the Talented and Gifted Program:

  1. A brief letter asking to be considered for a Tower Institute scholarship;
  2. A statement, not to exceed 300 words, explaining why the study of government and politics is important; and
  3. A letter of recommendation from a social studies teacher who knows the applicant well.

John G. Tower, Teacher and Public Servant

In 1961, as an unknown university professor, John Tower ran in a special race to fill the U. S. Senate seat vacated by Lyndon Johnson, who was elected vice president in 1960. Tower won the special election and represented Texas in the United States Senate from 1961 until 1985. From 1981 to 1985 he chaired the Senate Armed Services Committee. After his retirement from the Senate, President Ronald Reagan appointed him as U.S. Negotiator on strategic nuclear arms with the rank of ambassador. The following year he chaired the President’s Special Review Board after the Iran-Contra affair. In 1990, President George Bush appointed him as chair of the Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board.

Throughout his public life, however, John Tower never ceased to be a university professor. While still a U.S. Senator, he lectured at Southern Methodist University, his alma mater; and upon his retirement from the Senate, he served as a Distinguished Lecturer and regularly taught a course on national security. John Tower died in a plane crash in New Brunswick, Georgia, on April 5, 1991.

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