Skip to main content

Next Steps Summer Institute (NSSI)

An Inclusive Higher Education Preparatory Experience

Next Steps at Vanderbilt Summer Institute (NSSI) is an inclusive higher education (IHE) 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 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 students and families to these new programs by providing students with a one-week, experiential, summer college program.

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 4-year certificate 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.

As is the case for all of higher education, enrolling in an IHE program on a college or university campus involves many opportunities, risks, and challenges. Educating potential students and families on what to expect when attending this type of program greatly reduces the risks, enriches the opportunities, and provides all stakeholders with many planning tools.


Institute dates: Sunday, June 16 - Friday, June 21, 2019


Frequently Asked Questions About the Next Steps at Vanderbilt Summer Institute

2018 NSSI Schedule

The Next Steps Summer Institute flyer is available  here .


For potential counselors:

NSSI provides Vanderbilt students a hands-on experience and the responsibilities tasked to counselors greatly enhance one’s skills for an array of professions. 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. 



If you have administrative questions regarding NSSI, such as cost, the week’s schedule, etc., please contact John Cayton at or (615) 875-8090. 

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 .