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What is SET?

The Julian C. Stanley Study of Exceptional Talent (SET) provides direct services free of charge to students who meet eligibility requirements. SET evolved from a concern that students whose reasoning abilities are exceptionally advanced for their age may need an educationally advanced program to be optimally challenged (more in History of SET). In addition, they may lack a peer group that shares their interests and abilities. While all of CTY’s programs have been developed with these concerns in mind, students who score at the highest levels on tests of ability or achievement may be most at risk of failing to achieve their full potential if these issues are not addressed. Thus, SET focuses on working with students who achieve exceptional scores on the SAT through CTY’s Talent Search or through another venue.

SET's approach is very individualized. Our counseling focuses on helping students make good educational choices given their individual strengths and weaknesses, interests and motivation, and available resources in the school and community. We highly value summer programs, academic competitions, and a variety of extracurricular activities as effective means to enhance challenge and learning, and, most especially, to connect with like-minded peers during the high school years. We work closely with some families, while others have less need to request assistance because their current needs are being met. In addition to offering individual guidance, SET serves the larger group by providing information about opportunities and resources in the SET Newsletter, and by hosting group meetings.

SET’s work is research-based. SET members are followed over time, providing feedback on what has supported their development. Some studies also include input from parents. Participation is voluntary, but these efforts help us better understand the needs of highly gifted students, identify effective strategies for serving them, and advocate for services.

The lessons learned from working with SET students can clearly apply to a larger population. Thus, we also focus on the dissemination of SET’s core principles, practices, and research findings through publications and presentations at conferences in an effort to influence educational policy and practice (see Research & Advocacy).