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Welcome to the SURF family! As a parent, you may want to know more about what your student is doing and how you can support them in having a successful SURF experience.  We hope that the information below is helpful.

Caltech’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program offers students the opportunity to do research under the guidance of a seasoned research mentor. Most SURFers conduct research at Caltech and JPL, but Caltech students can find great SURF projects anywhere in the world.

The summer break is usually 15 weeks and SURF is only ten weeks long. That means they still have time for a visit home! 

Campus housing is available during the summer. Students will receive information on summer housing during the spring term.

SURF applications are due on February 22nd. Students interested in SURFing will need to identify a mentor in advance and develop a research proposal. They will also need to secure several letters of recommendation.  SURF awards are made near April 1. Early decisions are rarely available.

As a parent, how can you best support your student in this process?

- Suggest that they thoroughly review the SURF website for helpful information and attend relevant information sessions offered during the fall and winter terms.

- If they are having trouble identifying a mentor, suggest that they come in to speak with someone in the Student-Faculty Programs office.

- Suggest that they speak with a Student-Faculty Programs Student Ambassador living in their house.

- Students often rely on email to communicate with faculty and are sometimes disappointed when they don’t get an email back.  This is a great time to encourage students to go see faculty in their offices and labs or to call their administrative assistant to arrange for a meeting.

- Don’t do the work for them. Yes, they are very busy but putting in the effort to find a mentor and complete the application themselves provides important lessons that need to be learned.

- If they decide not to do a SURF, or were unable to find one, that’s okay! After all, they have more summers ahead of them.