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Emerging Rural Leaders

Thanks to the generous support of the Trott Family Foundation, the College is excited to host the Emerging Rural Leaders program. Emerging Rural Leaders offers two summer programs to top freshmen and juniors from rural and small-town high schools. Selected students will have the opportunity to participate in a Summer Session course free of charge

emerging rural leaders students pose for a group picture

Emerging Rural Leaders I: Freshmen

Applications for Summer 2021 are now available! Please click here to get started. Dates: July 12-16, 2021.

Eligibility: current high school freshmen attending rural and small-town high schools* in the United States

Emerging Rural Leaders II: Juniors

Dates: June 14 - July 9, 2021

Eligibility: current high school juniors attending rural and small-town high schools* in the United States

*Rural and small town high schools: We use data from the US Census Bureau and the National Center for Education Statistics to help us determine which considered rural or small town high schools in the United States. Most rural areas have populations of less than 50,000 residents and are located several miles outside of an urban or suburban area. If you are unsure whether your high school would be considered rural or small town, please contact Marjorie Betley at

“Each student I met was passionate and motivated to learn and improve their world. Before this experience, I had never met so many individuals that were this passionate, and it was incredible to meet people similar to me.”

Emerging Rural Leaders Student, 2019

Tuition & Fees

All costs, inclusive of tuition and fees, for the program are completely covered. Students will need access to wifi and to provide their own device to participate in the program for Summer 2021.

Phoenix Week

In addition to enrolling in a Summer Session for-credit Immersion course, selected students will also participate in a one-week series of online workshops and activities that will give students an insider’s look at the University of Chicago and provide guidance and insight into the highly selective admissions process.

Online Community

This program will be taught remotely online for Summer 2021. All selected Emerging Rural Leaders will have the opportunity to explore what campus life is like in sessions led by our student peer mentors and our staff. Students will make new connections and lifelong friendships with peers across the country and get to know current undergraduate students who are there to provide guidance and mentorship.

Students will also explore the unique kinds of opportunities available in a large urban center for academic work and professional development through fun activities like:

  • Virtually visiting different neighborhoods and world-class museums, such as the Art Institute of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry, among many others.
  • Diving into the world of politics and civic debate at the renowned University of Chicago Institute of Politics
  • Networking with current students, alumni, and local employers in the City of Chicago
  • Learning about "yes, and..." through an improv comedy workshop with the famed Second City Improv Troupe