Frequently Asked Questions

Who is eligible for the institute?

According to the NEH, “Full-time teachers in American K-12 schools, whether public, charter, independent, or religiously affiliated, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to apply to NEH Summer Seminars and Institutes. Americans teaching abroad are also eligible if a majority of the students they teach are American citizens. Librarians and school administrators may also be eligible."  

How do I apply for the institute?

Follow the directions on the application page. You’ll need three copies of the application form, resume, and application essay, plus two letters of reference. Send the application to: Plows

Carmen Hicks
1400 Coleman Ave
Mercer University
Macon, GA 31207

Applications must be postmarked by March 1, 2012.

How are participants selected?

According to the NEH guidelines, “A selection committee reads and evaluates all properly completed applications in order to select the most promising applicants and to identify a small number of alternates. (Institute selection committees consist of three to five members, usually all drawn from the institute faculty and staff members.) While recent participants are eligible to apply, project selection committees are directed to give first consideration to applicants who have not participated in an NEH-supported seminar, institute, or Landmarks Program in the last three years (2009, 2010, 2011). 

The most important consideration in the selection of participants is the likelihood that an applicant will benefit professionally and personally. This is determined by committee members from the conjunction of several factors, each of which should be addressed in the application essay. These factors include

  1. effectiveness and commitment as a teacher/educator;
  2. intellectual interests, both generally and as they relate to the work of the project;
  3. special perspectives, skills, or experiences that would contribute to the seminar or institute;
  4. commitment to participate fully in the formal and informal collegial life of the project; and
  5. the likelihood that the experience will enhance the applicant's teaching.


When choices must be made among equally qualified candidates, several additional factors are considered. Preference is given to applicants who have not previously participated in an NEH institute, or who significantly contribute to the diversity of the institute.”


Do you have any advice for applicants?

The single most important piece of the application package is the essay. Use it to explain exactly why you think you fit the institute: your educational background, your intellectual interests, your students’ needs, your potential contribution to the institute, your commitment to participate, and how you expect the institute to enhance your teaching.

How will selected applicants be notified?

You will be notified by April 2, 2012, and you will have until April 6 to accept or decline the offer. Alternates will be notified after April 6.

How will I get to Macon?

Macon is about eighty miles south of Atlanta and Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, and Mercer’s campus is conveniently near Interstate 75. If you’re flying into Hartsfield and need a shuttle to Macon, Groome transportation delivers directly to campus by request.

Where will I live?

We have reserved rooms in on-campus apartments. The apartments are two, three, or four bedroom floor plans with shared bathroom, kitchen, and living rooms, and they are furnished. You will have you own bedroom, and you will share a suite with at least one other participant. Apartments are air conditioned, have access to laundry, and have cable TV connections, telephone, and internet connections.

How much is housing?

Housing for the five-week institute is $875.

What should I bring with me?

Apartments are furnished, but you will need to provide linens, pillows, cooking and eating utensils, TV, microwave, computer, alarm clock, cleaning supplies, and anything you need to be comfortable. Almost all of our events will be casual, so bring comfortable clothes, and don’t forget that it will be hot in July. If you don’t bring something, don’t worry. Macon has the usual complement of shopping centers and mega-marts, so you’ll be able to get what you need. In the past, some people have shipped boxes of cooking implements and linens to the program office, and some people have purchased second-hand electronics, such as TVs or microwaves, at local thrift stores.

Can I bring my car?

Sure. On-campus parking is free during the summer.

Can I live off campus?

We would strongly prefer that you live on campus. Building a sense of community with the other teachers is an important part of the institute and that happens most productively in the informal interactions on campus. If you choose to live off campus, we cannot arrange housing or any other accommodations for you.

Do I have to live on campus if I live within commuting distance?

You are not required to live on campus, but we strongly encourage you to live on campus even if you live within commuting distance. Otherwise, you will miss an important component of the institute.

Can I have guests?

Because the institute will be very busy, we do not encourage extended visits from guests or family members, and we cannot provide housing for visitors. If you do have visitors, we suggest the Hilton Garden Inn adjacent to campus.

How much is the stipend?

The stipend is $3900, which is intended to help defray travel and living expenses for the institute.

How will the stipend be paid?

The stipend will be dispersed in two installments, one at the beginning of the institute and one in the middle.

Is it taxed?

The stipend is taxable income, but taxes will not be withheld, so you will pay taxes on it as part of your annual claim.

What will be my expenses?

You are responsible for paying for your travel expenses to and from campus, which will vary depending on your point of origin. Mercer will charge a flat rate of $875 for housing, and you will have access to campus amenities, including parking, libraries, and fitness center. You may choose between two meals plans: twenty-five meals plus $100 dining dollars for $279, or fifteen meals per week plus $100 dining dollars for $688. You will also be responsible for most expenses on field trips, any meals away from campus, and other incidentals.

Am I responsible for expenses on field trips?

We will provide transportation for the day trips to Juliette, Atlanta, and Eatonton and Milledgeville and for the overnight trip to Savannah. You will be responsible for transportation for other field trips, so we encourage car pooling, and you are responsible for all meal expenses. 

Should I buy a meal plan?

Maybe. The option is available to you, but it is not required. Campus dining hours and selections, though, are a bit limited during the summer. You will have a kitchen in your apartment, there are grocery stores nearby, there are several restaurants on campus and at the edge of campus, and there are lots of restaurants in town. You can always eat in the dining hall on a pay as you go basis. In the past, most participants have either used the limited meal plan or skipped the meal plan altogteher.

Will I get professional development credit?

For actively participating in and completing the institute, you will receive professional development points (PDPs or CEUs) according to your school district's guidelines. Typically, we will provide you with a letter to take to your superintendent who will then award credit. 

How much work will I have to do?

Expect to be busy but not overwhelmed. We intend for the institute to be invigorating and stimulating, and you will have several hours of workshops and preparatory work each day, usually a couple of essays or stories to read.

If I’m not a participant in the institute, can I audit workshops?


May I miss some workshops?

Emergencies sometimes happen, but we strongly encourage you not to miss workshops unless absolutely necessary. Please do not schedule family vacations or other extended trips during the institute.

Will I have free time?

Yes. On weekdays, workshops will take up much of your day, and you’ll need to do some reading for the next day’s workshops.

Can I go home for weekends?

Of course. Five weeks is a long time to be away from home, so you certainly may go home. But you are responsible for travel expenses, so you may choose not to go home every weekend. There will be plenty to do in Macon during the weekends that you stay in town, so you shouldn’t be bored.

Can I stay in Macon on the weekends?

Yes. The program assistant will arrange some optional field trips to area sites of interest, and there are plenty of events to see and places to go in Macon.

What will happen during a typical day?

On most days, we will have a morning workshop, then a break for lunch, and an afternoon workshop. Most evenings aren’t scheduled, which will allow time to prepare for the next day.

How do I get more information?

If you have other specific questions, contact Sarah Gardner at