Skip to main content

Next Steps Summer Institute (NSSI)

We regret to inform you that we will not host our Next Steps Summer Institute this June.  A combination of factors led us to this decision; most notably, the looming concerns about coronavirus.  As of 3/15, CDC has advised against group gatherings well into May 2020.  While we certainly hope for normalcy by June 2020, authorities will not come to that decision until much closer to that time.  We felt it was most fair for all parties involved to make this decision now to allow everyone to make other summer arrangements.  We apologize for any inconvenience or frustration this decision may bring and wish everyone well during this unusual time.  To view ongoing Vanderbilt-specific updates, visit

An Inclusive Higher Education Preparatory Experience

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 Next Steps staff. Contact John Cayton at for more information. 

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 disability 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 to the main tenants of IHE opportunities. It 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.


Frequently Asked Questions About the Next Steps at Vanderbilt Summer Institute

NSSI Sample Schedule



Contact John Cayton at or (615) 875-8090.