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“Hook” Development Programs – Ahn Instructional Design and Technology

“Hook” Development Programs

What's your hook?

A critical question for high school students.

Developing a “hook” that makes your application stand out to college admissions officers is a critical step in gaining acceptance to top schools. Even the highest test scores and a solid GPA won’t guarantee that you’ll gain entrance to the nation’s most competitive colleges and universities.

Today, in ultra-competitive admissions at top schools, it is imperative that admissions officers know you are passionate about something. That something is your “hook” – an interest or activity to showcase in your application. In many instances, students participate in random extracurricular activities without a strategy or plan. Schools want to see more than a long list of activities and it it your job to enhance your admissions portfolio with a well-conceived and developed interest or passion.

Working on a project (whether it is at a local, national or even international level), being involved in research or participating in a meaningful internship are all ways to demonstrate your care and concern for the world. Not only will these kinds of activities help you get into a better school, they will also help you build a foundation of important skills needed to contribute to 21st Century classrooms and professional settings.

Generally, students want to go to top schools because they are seeking access to greater intellectual pursuits and more career opportunities. Even an Ivy League education, however, doesn’t guarantee success, or a good career. It is crucial that you acquire cutting-edge skills and interests early on in your development – skills and interests you can build upon and expand in college and beyond.

To that end, our programs, including entrepreneurship and leadership, are designed to help you find your own unique niche and start developing start-up business and leadership skills – whatever your interest may be. Through a series of lectures, guest speakers, case studies, site visits and our consultants’ mentorship, you will design, develop and present a memorable project to showcase in your college application portfolio and beyond. We will help you grow your skills and provide you with a solid advantage in your college application and selection process.

Tech & Entrepreneurship

Game Design

International Relations

Research Lab

Please read below for details

Tech & Entrepreneurship Program

Interest: Technology, Engineering, Computer Science, Business or Entrepreneurship

Venue @Columbia University

Students will learn and practice group work and presentation skills. 

Opportunities to visit and learn from cool tech companies like Facebook 

… and be inspired by companies like Google

Main Lecturers & Speakers

Sam Ahn

Ed.D. candidate, Instructional Technology & Media, Columbia University

M.A. Computing in Education, Columbia University

B.A. Economics, UCLA

  • Consultant to various tech startups (early to mid stage) in US/Asia
  • Co-Founder of ADMSSNS
  • Mentored, taught and sent hundreds of aspiring HS students to top engineering programs

Matt Wilkerson 

B.S., Computer Science & Engineering, M.I.T.

  • Founder & CEO Paragon One
  • Angel Investor & Advisor to numerous startups
  • Co-Founder AHAlife
  • Technology Crossover Ventures (VC)
  • Morgan Stanley Media & Telecom Investment Banking

This program exposes students to the red-hot trend of tech startups happening everywhere, including colleges. Using the vibrant tech startup industry in New York City as classroom, the students will learn what it takes to be part of startups. The course includes: lectures of professionals and educators using the curriculum from top MBA programs such as Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School; workshops led by industry professionals from tech startups and venture capital investors; field trips to tech startups; the scene of tech startups at college institutions like Columbia and NYU; student-group-led final project that they can take to competitions or make their dream a reality of starting up their own business.

Topics covered:

  • Entrepreneurship 101
  • Coding workshops
  • Design workshops
  • Trends in technology
  • Business Plan
  • Elevator Pitch
  • Role of Social Media
  • Digital Marketing
  • Investor Presentation
  • Financials

In addition, students will work on real Case Studies of actual startup companies, thinking from the perspective of CEO and making critical decisions.

Students will also have opportunities to visit:

  • tech companies in NYC
  • incubator/accelerator spaces
  • college events related to tech startups
  • events held by guest speakers in NYC

Class Schedule

5 weekly classes per section; students can sign up for 1, 2 or 3 sections; it is recommended they take all 3

Section 1: Intro Entrepreneurship – Learn the basics of tech entrepreneurship. How the funding works, what type of startups are out there and successful, gain valuable insight from industry professionals, and start tinkering with ideas for startup.

  • Entrepreneurship 101
  • Trends in technology
  • Venture Capital Investment
  • Incubators, Accelerators and College startup environment
  • Case studies

Section 2: Tech Skill Development – Learn what is important in the tech startup scenery: tech skills. Though fully encouraged to do so, students are not expected to become hard core programmer in few weeks; however, we will get students’ feet wet and guide them to the right path in skill enhancement needed to be successful in startups. We want our students to be proficient enough that they can converse with the techies!

  • Intro coding workshops
  • Design thinking
  • Mobile App
  • Wireframing

Section 3: Business Plan & Pitch – Students will learn from how startups get funded to exit (e.g. M&A, IPO). They will learn how to build a business around an idea and what it takes to succeed. Students will get opportunities to talk to professionals who are in Venture Capitalist and investment companies to see which type of startups get funded and what they are looking for in a pitch.

  • Creating business plan
  • Business plan canvas
  • Making the right pitch (e.g. Elevator pitch)
  • Financials

Summer 2016

Students will do one of the following:

  • Internship for tech startup company (New Pathway will make the right connection)
  • Develop their own startup idea into real project for competition or company (New Pathway will provide mentorship and guidance)

Summer internships typically last 3-5 weeks. All internships and projects will include eight 1-hr mentoring sessions to further enhance and build on summer experience.

Game Design

Interest: Games, App development, Design

Venue: @Columbia University

  • Classes are held in Columbia University campus
  • Dormitory is an undergraduate Columbia University dorm
  • Faculty is mostly comprised of Columbia University professors and students

Students will get a truly “Columbia” experience.

Students have to learn game dynamics and mechanics in order to create a well designed game themselves. 

Students get to work on a final project that can start or add to their portfolio.

Students learning and practicing some simple web coding skills. 

Faculty & Staff

Joey J. Lee is a Research Assistant Professor of Technology and Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. He designs, develops and studies games and game-like experiences for education and social impact. His projects include both digital and non-digital games for climate change education, science education, motivation, identity formation, and cross-cultural education. He directs the Real-World Impact Games Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University.  More information about his projects can be found at http://www.gameprof.com/


The two-week Techbridges 2.0 program is designed to provide high school and college students with an inspiring, hands-on experience in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineer, Art and Math). The program will focus on career readiness and 21st Century skill development, including:

  • technology literacy
  • creativity
  • collaboration
  • critical thinking
  • cross-cultural fluency
  • entrepreneurship

Students will be exposed to a wide range of eye-opening experiences with an agenda comprising interactive project-based activities; teaching, training and guest lectures from industry professionals, university professors, alumni and current students; site visits to technology labs or companies; and design, production and research activities. These activities will culminate in a final group project in which students will design and develop a game or interactive media tool that addresses a social issue or problem.

Summary of Program Goals

After participating in the program, students will be able to:

  • Develop 21st Century skills in students, along with an increased understanding of what is necessary to succeed in today’s digital economy.
  • Present a broad overview of both digital and non-digital educational technologies including simulations, online tools, games and mobile apps.
  • Listen to and interact with first-rate speakers including Ivy League and Columbia University professors and industry professionals.
  • Design, develop and present a final student project that may be included in resumes and portfolios (a valuable asset for college applications).
  • Expose students to a well-rounded, diverse NYC experience that takes advantage of many of the best aspects of the city: premier academic institutions, world-class arts and design communities, Fortune 500 technology companies, etc.
  • Inspire student to consider Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) careers.

The Three Main “Tracks” 

Techbridges 2.0 consists of three main tracks: Business and Entrepreneurship; Game Design; and Development, Programming and Coding (see specific topics covered below). The program will cover a broad range of STEAM topics from which students can choose a specialty track to further explore in depth. This may include talking to experts and current students in the specific field, skill development workshops and other breakout sessions to further enhance a student’s interest in a given track. Final project teams will have at least one member from each track to ensure a well-rounded presentation and pitch.


July 16-29, 2016

Target age:


For more information, click on link:

International Relations

Interests: International relations, healthcare, education

Main Venue: @Columbia University

  • Classes are held in Columbia University campus
  • Dormitory is an undergraduate Columbia University dorm
  • Faculty is mostly comprised of Columbia University professors and students

Students will get a truly “Columbia” experience.

Other Venue: @Georgetown University @Boston (various schools)

Lecture at Columbia University campus on International Relations.

Students visiting the UN and Security Council meeting room. 

Photo taken after meeting with the Dean of Admissions at School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, one of the top program for International Relations.


Alessia Lefébure is an internationally recognized expert and has done extensive research and work in the international area of education with deep ties to Europe and Asia. She is currently a professor at Columbia University SIPA (School of International and Public Affairs).

Henan Cheng is the assistant director of Center for Chinese Education at Teachers College, which has been striving hard to improve education in China. She also teaches at the Columbia University Teachers College.

Ryan Allen is a doctoral fellow at Columbia University Teachers College who specializes in international education development and policies. He teaches at various colleges on the topic.


Run by Columbia University faculty and alumni, Youth Leadership is a highly intensive two-week summer program for high school and college students interested in learning how to make a positive impact on society. The goal of the program is to provide students with the skills needed for leadership success in the 21st Century, including creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and cross-cultural fluency. Students will receive inspiring, hands-on experience in:

  • finance
  • international relations
  • entrepreneurship

Participants will have the opportunity to learn from and interact with industry professionals as well as professors and graduate students from Columbia University and other Ivy League schools. The daily schedule will include lectures, workshops and site visits to finance firms, non-governmental organizations and start-ups.

Students will gain valuable hands-on experience that will contribute to their future success.

Program graduates will gain valuable insight into global issues and policies and a competitive advantage over peers who have not had the opportunity to participate in this program. They will also have acquired enhanced skills for 21st Century success and completed a project that can be showcased in college and university applications.

Summary of Program Goals

  • Experience real Columbia University and Harvard Business School courses.
  • Gain hands-on experience in finance, business development, international affairs and NGOs.
  • Listen to and interact with first-rate speakers including Ivy League professors, alumni and entrepreneurs.
  • Develop 21st Century skills and an increased understanding of what is required to succeed to today’s digital economy.
  • Design, develop and present a final student project that may be included in resumes, portfolios and college and university applications.

The Two Main “Tracks”

The Youth Leadership program covers a broad range of topics. However, students may choose one of two “specialty” tracks to further explore in depth: Business and Entrepreneurship or International Relations and Policy (see specific topics covered below). This may include talking to experts and current students in the field, skill development workshops and other breakout sessions to further enhance a student’s interest in the track of choice. Final project teams will have at least one member from each track to ensure a well-rounded presentation and pitch.

Target Age



July 24-August 6, 2016

For more information, click on link:

Musicians in NYC

Interests: Music and Performing Arts hands-on Program

Main Venue: @Juilliard @Columbia University

  • Classes are held in Columbia University campus
  • Dormitory is an undergraduate Columbia University dorm
  • Faculty is mostly comprised of Juilliard and Columbia University professors and students


Lincoln Center, next to Juilliard




Welcome to our Music Summer Program. We encourage young students and their parents participate in our varied and exciting music activities. Through this program, you’ll have the opportunities to hear and enjoy the performances from renowned musicians and artists, visit world-class performing arts venues, and talk with professionals about their childhood music training and career paths.

Our theme for 2016 is to appreciate and enjoy music through creative composing process. The agenda consists of a variety of students oriented music activities, mentoring sessions led by music students and alumni, campus tours, guided tours of performing arts venues, interactions with world renowned guest performer, and some NYC only summer experiences, which include Concerts in the Park by NY Philharmonic, Shakespeare in the Park, Central Park SummerStage, outdoor film screening at parks, and Broadway shows. We hope you will join us and experience the summer in New York City, the performing arts capital of the world.

While you are enjoying the performing arts and having family fun, please do take advantage of the New York City Summer Restaurant Week. The NYC Restaurant Week is an event held twice a year in which participating restaurants in NYC offer prix fixe lunches and dinners. This is a unique opportunity to experience some of New York City’s finest restaurants (including some Michelin Star restaurants) for a fraction of the usual price. Throughout the city, restaurants participate in “Restaurant Week” where some of the really high end popular restaurants offer a three-course lunch or dinner.

Goals of the Program

After participating in the program, young students and parents will be able to:

  • Have fun during creative music activities
  • Gain a general sense of future career possibilities in performing arts and relevant field
  • Interact with guest speakers including great artists, Juilliard/Berklee College of Music/Manhattan School of Music students and alumni, and Ivy League alumni
  • Build friendships with other families of diverse backgrounds
  • Deliver a well-rounded, diverse NYC experience that takes advantage of many of the best aspects of the city: premier academic institutions, world-class performing arts centers, etc.

Program Activities

  • Guided tours of top-notch higher education institutions: the Juilliard School, Berklee School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Columbia, NYU, Harvard, MIT.
  • Meet and talk to guest speakers including young pianist, Juilliard alumna, and Ivy League alumni
  • Guided tour to performing arts venues (Lincoln Center, Radio City Music Hall, etc.) in New York City
  • Field trip to NYC summer events: NY Philharmonic Concert in the Park, Shakespeare in the Park, outdoors film screening, etc.
  • Watch a Broadway show
  • Food tasting – NYC Summer Restaurant Week including some of Michelin Star Restaurants.
  • Family shopping trip to Woodbury Outlet.


July 27 – August 6, 2016

Target age:

Grades 4-7 (with parents)

Lab Research

Interests: Science and Engineering

Venue: various colleges and labs available

Doing research requires various skills. Our summer research lab program allows students to gain valuable experience & skills while helping to get an edge in college (and probably graduate school) admissions.

We work with various labs around campuses with professors or graduate students. Whether it is science or any other topic (e.g. education, philosophy) you want to research, please contact us for details.

Duration, cost, etc. varies depending on availability and location.


Please contact us for more details regarding programs!

Click to Inquire

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