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Next Steps Summer Institute (NSSI)

An Inclusive Higher Education Preparatory Experience

Next Steps at Vanderbilt Summer Institute is an inclusive higher education preparatory experience for rising high school juniors (17+ years old), seniors, and young adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities up to the age of 25.

With more and more inclusive higher education (IHE) options available around the country, a question arises about whether students and families have a good understanding of what a college program will entail for them? What do they expect about fully engaging on a college campus? How do they begin planning for a full-time college experience? Is their son/daughter ready? Since 2010, the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program has sought to orient families to these new programs by providing students with a one-week, experiential, summer college program. The Next Steps Summer Institute (NSSI) aims to expose young adults with intellectual disability/developmental disability to the main tenants of inclusive higher education opportunities. NSSI also serves as an orientation for the incoming first-year students of the Next Steps at Vanderbilt program. Feedback received from all stakeholders is testimony to the value of NSSI. Participating students and their families speak with a deeper level of trust and understanding about what they can expect in an IHE program. Next Steps at Vanderbilt staff members report that they could not imagine beginning the academic year without this orientation week- that allows them to get to know their new students. Developing an IHE program on a college or university campus involves many risks and challenges, but educating potential students and families on what to expect when attending this type of program and providing a week-long orientation for incoming students greatly reduces the risks and provides all stake-holders with many planning tools.

Institute dates: Sunday, June 17, 2018 - Friday, June 22, 2018

For potential counselors:

Vanderbilt students are given hands-on experiences and responsibilities that greatly enhance one’s skills. The counselors receive training and support from the Next Steps staff. If you are interested in applying for a counselor position, please contact John Cayton at for more information. 

Frequently Asked Questions About the Next Steps at Vanderbilt Summer Institute

2016 NSSI Schedule

The Next Steps Summer Institute flyer is available here.


If you have administrative questions regarding NSSI (the summer program), such as when applications are available, etc., please contact John Cayton at

If you have questions regarding the content of NSSI or questions about the year round Next Steps program, please contact Tammy Day at (615)343-0822 or