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Emerging Rural Leaders I

Thanks to the generous support of Trott Family Philanthropies, selected students from rural and small-town high schools will receive a full scholarship to participate in a one-week residential program between their freshman and sophomore years of high school.

Through readings, lectures, discussion, and hands-on activities, students will learn about developing leadership skills and about the process for highly selective universities with the guidance of UChicago admissions counselors. Students will also be exposed to the kinds of opportunities available in a large urban center for academic work and professional development (as well as just for fun!) through activities that showcase the city of Chicago.

The program will be hosted on-campus, and program participants must reside in campus housing for the duration of the program.

emerging rural leaders students pose for a group picture

Program Description

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 -

What does it mean to be a “leader” to you personally? How does one choose to be a leader? How can you create a better future for yourself and your community by leading with courage, capacity, and wisdom? In this one-week introductory course, students will learn about the importance of leadership and civic discourse from a variety of academic and social perspectives.

Through readings, lectures, discussion, and hands-on projects, students will learn from leading faculty in the Parrhesia Program for Public Discourse, the Booth School of Business, and the Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship. Several examples include:

  • Understanding and building skills in civic leadership and deliberation
  • Diving into experiential learning activities focused on growing collaboration, teamwork, and problem-solving skills
  • Explore local opportunities for entrepreneurship by creating and pitching community-based business plans
  • Learning about the highly selective admissions process and pursuing workshops on admissions-related topics

Through activities with your peers, become part of a close-knit community and create new friendships with other highly talented and engaged high school students from rural and small-town high schools across the country.

Program Contact: All questions should be directed to Maxwell Bartley at

Application Requirements

Eligibility: Current 9th grade students, who are at least 14 years old, and who attend a rural or small-town high school* within the United States are invited to apply.

*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 schools are 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 Maxwell Bartley at

Applications will be accepted online. The deadline to apply is our Regular Deadline, March 5, 2024. All application decisions for this program will be released at the same time in late April. 

Applicants must complete the Summer Session Application, and all the related requirements, which can be reviewed in the How to Apply section. 

Application materials include:

  • Online application
  • Transcript
  • Supplement and essays
  • A nomination from a counselor or teacher is recommended, and can be completed here.
  • At least one parent/guardian confirmation email received.

Applicants will be asked to respond to the following essay questions in the application:

  • Why did you choose the particular program/courses for which you have applied? How are they related to your current interests and future plans? Please be as specific as possible, and make sure your response covers each of the courses you elected. (Limit: 500 words)
  • "Since its founding, the University has been committed to the idea that a culture of rigorous inquiry requires an environment where diverse perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas inform and stimulate intellectual exchange, challenge, and engagement.” -UChicago Office of the Provost. How would you contribute to this culture of inquiry in this program? What do you hope to gain or learn by engaging with peers from all over the U.S. or from different parts of the world? (Limit: 300 words)

Review the Application Overview pages for more detailed information.

Costs & Fees

The application fee is automatically waived for any applicant who selects any Enrichment Program as their first choice.

Thanks to the gift from Trott Family Philanthropies, all program costs, inclusive of tuition, room and board, and roundtrip transportation are completely covered. Students will need to have their own health insurance.

Program Dates

July 28 - August 2, 2024

  • Arrival date: Sun. Jul. 28
  • Class starts: Mon. Jul. 29
  • Closing session: Fri. Aug. 2
  • Departure: Fri. Aug. 2