Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

  1. Where is APL located?

  2. APL is located at 11100 Johns Hopkins Road, Laurel, Maryland 20723. We are one exit south of Route 32 off of Route 29. For further information, including directions, please visit APL’s Locations and Directions page. Please note: We are not located on the Johns Hopkins University campus.

  3. Is APL accessible by public transportation?

  4. APL is not accessible by public transportation.

  5. Is this program paid or unpaid?

  6. This is an unpaid learning experience. The ASPIRE program works with schools to provide an extension of your learning environment. The program is intended to benefit students by increasing their knowledge base and experience in STEM subjects.

  7. Is there housing available for the summer session?

  8. APL does not offer any housing or housing information for ASPIRE students. Although out-of-state students are currently eligible, they must provide proof of housing before their application will be considered.

  9. I am a green card holder. Can I participate in the ASPIRE program?

  10. Green card holders are not eligible for the ASPIRE program.

  11. My GPA is below the minimum 2.8 requirement. Can I still participate?

  12. The ASPIRE program is intended to be a supplement to academic work, and we ask that students who do not meet the minimum requirement spend their time building up their academic record first and then apply to the ASPIRE program once they have reached the minimum requirement.

  13. My family is going on vacation this summer. Can I still participate in the ASPIRE summer program?

  14. ASPIRE students may take a 1-week break during the summer session provided they start the program by July 6.

  15. I am on the soccer/tennis/lacrosse/drama/etc. team, and I have to go to practice every day, but I still want to be in the ASPIRE academic year program. How can I make that work?

  16. It is very challenging to participate in an extracurricular activity at the same time as the ASPIRE program. Please meet with your school counselor to determine how your school deals with internship programs and whether you will be given early release to come to APL. Remember to consider travel times when deciding whether you have enough time to participate. You must be at APL for a minimum of 5 hours per week during the school year, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday. You may not come to APL on the weekends, and you may not stay at APL past 6:00 p.m. You also may not do a portion of the core hours from home, although additional hours may be completed at home. If you have an unusual schedule (for example, are only available on one day of the week), please discuss that with any potential mentors during the interview phase.

    Seniors should also take into account the college application process when planning their schedules.

    It is expected that students who are accepted into the ASPIRE program will make the program a priority.

  17. Will I get to choose the project I work on?

  18. Mentors will review applications and select students whose interests match their area of expertise. Mentors will contact students to conduct a phone or in-person interview. During the interview, the mentor will share his or her project or will discuss how you will develop a project together. Some ASPIRE students do get to choose (develop) their own projects and some do not; it depends on the mentor.

  19. I want a placement in neuroscience or biomedical engineering. Is that possible?

  20. Every session of the ASPIRE program is different. We do work to find placements in areas such as biology and chemistry, but historically we have only placed a few students each session in these areas. Because of the limited placements, if your interest is in biomedical engineering or neuroscience, we would encourage you to have other options if you are not selected.

  21. When will I be notified whether I have been accepted or not?

  22. Summer applicants will be notified by June 1 if they have not been accepted, although most accepted students will be selected and notified in April and May.

    Academic year applicants will be notified by September 1 if they have not been accepted, although most accepted students will be selected and notified by August 15.

  23. Can I include additional materials with my application?

  24. Yes, links to online portfolios may be included in the personal statement, and other pertinent materials may be uploaded to the application.

  25. How do I submit letters of recommendation?

  26. Once you submit your application, you will receive an e-mail containing a link. Please send that link to a STEM teacher and one other person (another teacher or coach) and ask them to complete the recommendation form for you. If they include your e-mail address on the form, you will receive an e-mail when they submit their form. Your application is only complete once we have received two forms for you. Anyone who has difficulty can contact the STEM Program Office at or 240-228-7836.

Homeschool Questions

  1. My student is homeschooled. Can he or she still apply for the ASPIRE program?

  2. Absolutely! We welcome homeschoolers into the program, as long as their homeschool is in compliance with Maryland law and the student meets our basic eligibility requirements. For more information about Maryland homeschool law, check out this link:

  3. Who should sign the school counselor form? How do I give credit for this internship?

  4. Unless your child is enrolled in an online or video learning program where they have an official school counselor or advisor, you as the homeschool parent will be the one to sign that form. Likewise, the level of credit you award for the internship is at your discretion, but it should be consistent with Maryland State Department of Education rules and regulations.

  5. The application form asks for a GPA and transcript and, as a homeschooler, my student does not have one/either. What should we provide?

  6. According to Maryland law, students can be homeschooled under one of two options: the portfolio option or the umbrella option.

    • If you are homeschooling under the portfolio option, you should have a portfolio of curriculum, assignments, test results, etc., reviewed at least once annually by your school district’s superintendent. You should have sufficient materials in this portfolio to create an accurate transcript and provide an accurate GPA.

    • If you are homeschooling under the umbrella option (state-approved or religious organization), you should have the equivalent of a GPA and transcript either provided by the umbrella organization or created in compliance with umbrella organization requirements. If for some reason this is not the case, you should still have sufficient records to create an accurate transcript and provide an accurate GPA.

  7. Should I write my student’s letter(s) of recommendation?

  8. The ASPIRE program requires two letters of recommendation, neither of which can be filled out by a parent. We suggest asking another instructor, coach, scout leader, club leader, religious leader, etc., to fill out the recommendation form.

  9. My student is available at odd times—during the mornings, evenings, weekends, etc.—because of their unique school schedule. Can they complete their internship during those hours?

  10. No, ASPIRE interns can only complete internship work during general business hours: 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

  11. Can my student complete their internship hours at home?

  12. No, ASPIRE interns must complete all of their work on site at APL unless some prior arrangement has been made with the STEM Program Office and the student’s mentor.