Getting Your Students Ready

Student Documents and Paperwork

Summer Projects and Mentors

Welcome and Information Packet

Creating a Welcoming Community

Housing and Parking

Student Payments

Feeding the Students


Student Tracking

Data Collection (for Evaluator and Reports)


Program Wrap-Up


Getting Your Students Ready:

    • Arrange any necessary travel plans that the students might need in order to arrive to the program on time. This includes rides the student might need if arriving through the airport (you might recruit volunteer mentors, department volunteers, or grad students to drive).
    • Email them a list of things the students might need to bring for housing and the program. This also includes establishing a dress code (i.e., casual with one nice presentation attire).
    • To prepare each student’s payments, you’ll need to gather a valid ID, W-4s, and Social Security numbers. This information can be done once the students arrive, but they should be noted on the necessary documentation they’ll need to bring to get their payments set up.
    • Provide a general schedule or agenda of the program. Arrange and plan for workshops, talks, tours, extracurriculars, meetings, and research goals. This will also help frame the experience for everyone involved and set expectations early on for the students.
PRO TIP:  A tentative agenda can be provided as a hard copy in the student’s welcome packet, but putting one up on your REU website provides the flexibility of making any updates or changes in the schedule everyone can refer back to during the program.
    • Any dorm information and housing arrangements should be done ahead of time. If available, this can be done through your university’s dorms. You can also take this opportunity to house your students who might be doing a similar program during the summer.
PRO TIP:  Having the students live together allows them to develop a stronger sense of team spirit and collaboration.
  • Have individual welcome packets prepared with any necessary information, “goodies or swag”, and materials you might want to provide the students. The welcome packets can be handed out the first day along with an initial payment, and housing access (Refer to “Welcome Packet” for more specific examples of materials).
  • Meal arrangements can be done by providing a “meal bundle” that the students can use through the university’s dining centers and cafes or provide a weekly grocery stipend.
    • This can be in addition to their program stipend so that the students can buy their own items and prepare in their housing.
  • You could also provide an orientation email containing the necessary information such as:
    • Reminder about check-ins
    • Request flight/arrival information
    • Airport pickup
    • Expectations for the first day/week
    • Healthcare center costs


Student Documents and Paperwork:

  • Undergraduate students supported with NSF funds must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States or its possessions will need to provide some sort of proof (e.g., W-9).
  • Students should be able to provide proof of Health Insurance. They can do so by scanning (or photograph) the front and back of their health insurance card and uploading or emailing them with the rest of the required documents.
  • If desired, stipend payments can be made through Direct Deposit, which would require to fill out the appropriate forms according to your university. Read more on Student Payments.
  • Some university policies require the students to also provide a proof of immunization before they arrive; especially if the students will be living in the university’s dorms.



Summer Projects and Mentors:

  • Research projects are based on current active research. Summer REU projects should be solicited early on in the year, around the time students start filling out applications. This gives the professors who would like to be mentors for the REU time to prepare the project’s goal and scope.
    • Project solicitation and planning should be done around January or February. This also allows the students to provide their interest in which project they’d like to be a part of, and allow the PIs and coordinators to pair both the student(s) and mentor for the summer around March.
  • Some REU sites have students typically work in a group of 2 to 4 and have each group composed of students at different academic levels (i.e., Freshman, Junior, Sophomore, Senior).
  • If the program pairs more than one student within each project, PIs must strategize how these students will be divided, usually by allowing them to rank their project preferences when they apply or right after accepting the offer.


Welcome and Information Packet:

  • A “welcome packet” can be handed out the first day the students arrive. These materials can be packaged along with “freebies” or “goodies” inside a drawstring bag. Attempt to make documents as welcoming and congratulatory as possible, while emphasizing the commitment behind them.
    • Include and request:
      • Housing, map of campus, parking, meals, and pay
      • Campus map and facilities access
      • Health: insurance, medical care, gym
      • Tentative program schedule
      • Connector to other REU students, grad students, faculty
      • Contract
        • Policy for “vacation” and not taking outside coursework
        • First payment
        • Office assignment
        • Devote time to it as a full-time job (will hours be 9-5?)
        • Be present for classes and workshops
        • Do research and finish end-of-program materials
        • Example of contract/Information packet:
      • Forms


Creating a Welcoming Community:

  • Attempt to draft documents about the program with a friendlier tone rather than a bureaucratic or administrative tone so that students feel comfortable and not intimidated. This will also reflect the program’s sense of community and could help influence how welcomed the students feel about the program.
  • Allow students to connect early with mentors and grad students, this can help ease their transition into the program, and learn more about the students at a personal level. An early connection can help set and define expectations, project logistics, and set up a meeting schedule.


Housing and Parking:

  • To alleviate and help students’ arrival, gather students and mentors involved in the program to welcome and help the students move-in. This could also be planned along with any airport rides the students might need on arrival.
  • Any dorm information and housing arrangements should be done ahead of time, before the students arrive, in order to assure they have a place to stay during the program. If available, this can be done through your university’s dorms. You can also take this opportunity to house your students who might be doing a similar program during the summer.
  • Have the students confirm if they’ll be driving over and if they’ll need parking. Parking permits and other arrangements can also be managed before the students arrive and have those prepared and part of their welcome package.
PRO TIP:  Having the students live together allows them to develop a stronger sense of team spirit and collaboration.



Student Payments:

  • Students will need money the first day they arrive; this will most likely be used for groceries and other necessary items they might need during their stay. Allow time within the first or second day to take them to a store that provides these items (e.g., Walmart, Target).
  • As a guide to budget development, student stipends for summer projects are expected to be approximately $500 per student per week, in addition to other participant costs of room and board, fees, and travel, with academic-year stipends comparable on a pro rata basis.
  • REU sites are encouraged to pay students their stipend on a regular or incremental basis and not in a lump sum at the end of the program. An example is to pay them in installments of 25% within the first weeks, 50% towards the middle and the other 25% towards the end before they leave.
  • It should be noted whether the students are actually able to transfer their stipend to their bank, either by helping them get to the bank or making sure they have an application that allows them to deposit their check.
  • Providing the students a stipend is preferred, but you will need to check with HR to learn what’s most appropriate to your situation.
  • Avoid a payment set-up that requires background checks and hourly pay setup – this can cause issues with human 
resources and time sheets.
PRO TIP A:  Have a joint meeting with human resources, payroll, and information technology (for computing and other university access issues) to determine the best way to handle student payment and access issues on your campus.
PRO TIP B:  An initial payment needs to be provided ASAP upon arrival to campus. A check in their hands on the day they arrive can lessen the impact on their bank accounts and also make them realize that they are committing to the program (i.e., they can’t back out at last minute).
PRO TIP C:  Pay in two or three installments such as {40%, 20%, 40%} or {60%, 40%}.



Feeding the Students:

  • Food can be arranged through the university’s dining services. A lot of places offer summer packages which can be used to give to the students. Other programs provide a food allowance separate from the students’ stipend, so that they can buy their own food, and cook in their housing (if the housing arrangement has a kitchen or a place to cook). Whichever option you opt for, it’s good to consider and give students some flexibility. Some may not eat all meals in a dining plan, and also not everyone wants to eat every single meal in the dining hall. Many sites do a mix of partial dining plan + cash for groceries.
  • Ask faculty or the department to sponsor an informal BBQ. This could also be used as an extracurricular activity at any point during the program while encouraging community building.
  • Account for symposium lunches in student food stipend. This could also be done with other similar activities where you bring special guests or faculty to give workshops or talk to the students about research and grad school.




  • This might be the first time some of these students are far from home or far from any family/friends, which can cause them to feel uneasy or homesick at any given point during the program.
  • Besides developing a sense of community and making sure students feel welcomed and comfortable, providing them with a highly structured schedule and tasks, especially in the beginning, helps keep their mind busy enough to not think about homesickness.
  • You can keep the students busy, doing different activities, workshops, amongst other events, especially with each other. This helps tackle both homesickness and build a better relationship amongst themselves.
  • Although homesickness might not happen, by acknowledging that it can happen, you can help prepare for it and prevent it from happening, or at least know how to remedy the situation.



Student Tracking:

  • During the Program:
    • Keeping track of the students’ whereabouts is important for both their and the program’s safety. This helps ensures the students’ are safe, both physically and schedule-wise (not losing too much sleep). Create an explicit policy at your site regarding non-lab / non-dorm activities. Perhaps they need to tell their graduate mentor or you if they’re driving to the nearby festival on the weekend, etc.
    • Encourage to form a social media group (Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter), or use another form of communication that all students, and possibly mentors, can be part of. This is especially helpful for when the students are out of the office or during outside activities, long weekend vacations, etc.
    • Consider using group-texting software like GroupMe so that you can message all the students at once.
    • Monitor the students’ research progress by having regular mentor meetings (where they discuss their progress and plans for the rest of the week), weekly progress forms (which captures the students’ accomplishments during the week), or daily/weekly blogs (where the students write about their day and expectations for the rest of the week).


  • After the Program:
    • Keeping track of students after the program helps build rapport on what they’re currently doing and their progression in their careers. REU alumni define the success and effectiveness of a site. 
    • Social media groups such as a LinkedIn group, or a Facebook private group provide the ability to share and communicate easily with these students after they’re long gone.
    • Some of these groups can be made before the students arrive in order to communicate general information or introduce one another. This is also a great way to share content that is essential or relevant to the students.
    • You can also contact them through email groups or phone calls, but it’s not as great as social media.
    • All acquired information and data can be used towards tracking data when creating annual reports or renewing an REU site.
    • When contacting your alumni, collect information such as:
      • Current school (degree, file, institution)
      • Job (company/agency)
      • Future plans
      • Publications and fellowships
      • Awards
      • Conferences
      • Internships
      • Graduation
    • Keep data organized and in a place where it can be easily found/shared (in the cloud) with others when the time comes.



Data Collection (for Evaluator and Reports):

  • For successful data collection, set up for evaluation at different points in the program. These can be done before, during, and after the program, to help identify different types of information you wish to get from the students and the program itself.
    • The pre-program survey can help gather student information (gender, ethnicity, race, disability status, and citizenship) interests, career goals, expectations, amongst other types of information.
    • Weekly surveys can help keep track of students’ progress, assess student learning gains, concerns, and expectations. This can also help to restructure or address any concerns that may arise. These can also be done in a more relaxed setting, such as meetings where the students discuss what’s working and what’s not working, and inform any concerns in order to implement mid-course corrections.
    • Post-program surveys serve as a way to follow-up with the students and evaluate the end of the program. This type of survey can address general program evaluation and ways to improve the program, mentoring effectiveness, career paths and school plans for the upcoming semester, measure student confidence, and desire to go to graduate school.
    • Example and template surveys can be found in the CISE REU EVALUATION TOOLKIT website.




  • Make the cohort more cohort-y by having fun! This allows for the students and mentors to develop a better relationship, help them relax, improve team building, and provide as rewards for hard work and summer accomplishments.
  • When planning for these activities, it’s always good to have a plan to help students solve issues.
    • Provide some sort of way for students to communicate with mentors when going out or during the weekends such as creating a group SMS, make a GroupMe group, or a Slack channel.
  • Some ideas for extracurricular activities include:
    • Field trips to labs and industry
    • Visit other universities
    • Dinners/cookouts
    • Informal get-togethers
    • Picnics
    • Local attractions
    • Ropes course for team building
    • Game nights
    • Go-kart racing
  • As an incentive, or as part of your tentative schedule, you can plan and integrate a list of activities in your REU website. This also allows students to know what type of attire to bring, as well as planning for possible events if needed.
  • Ask students to share photos with you (and put them online) so that you can share them in future presentations and on your website.
    • This helps attract other prospective applicants and shows what type of activities and bonding opportunities your program provides.
PRO TIP:  Take advantage of nearby activities, events, and places and provide the students with things to do in the off time or as a group outing.



Program Wrap-Up:

  • Program:
    • At the end of the program, students normally do a final presentation on their summer research. These results are usually presented within the department or a summer research symposium.
    • Formal presentations are usually set as an expectation but can include a written report, and/or a poster. Posters are usually used as part of a presentation, such as a symposium, where a lot of research departments and programs gather to share.
    • Celebrate the end of the program with your students and maybe even provide them with a Certificate of completion for them to take home.


  • Students:
    • Student travel plans need to be arranged and coordinated so that the students do not encounter any problems while wrapping up the program.
      • Airplane tickets could also be bought as round-trips if the program dates are already set.
    • Any dorm/housing check-out/check-in instructions and dates need to be provided within a reasonable time period so that students can gather their things and start packing when necessary.
PRO TIP:  Take this opportunity to have one last open forum discussion about how their summer went and their feedback about the program. record these conversations and feedback for future implementation and information for site renewal.