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Emerging Rural Leaders I

Emerging Rural Leaders I: Freshmen

Selected freshmen students from rural and small-town high schools will receive a full scholarship to participate in a one-week Summer Session course: Choosing Leadership: Learning and Leading in the 21st Century. See course description below.

Through readings, lectures, discussion, and hands-on activities, students will learn about developing leadership skills and about the application 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.

A sample schedule for this year’s program is available here.

All questions should be directed to Marjorie Betley at

Application Requirements


Applications will be accepted online beginning in February. The deadline to apply is May 1st and there is no application fee to apply.

Application materials include:

Course Description

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

Become Part of a Community

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:

  • Learn about "yes, and..." through an improv comedy workshop with the famed Second City Improv Troupe!
  • Work together with your friends to take on a virtual escape room or show off your trivia skills through interactive activities led by current UChicago student resident assistants
  • Enjoy learning about Chicago history on an amazing virtual architecture tour

Program Dates

Emerging Rural Leaders will take place July 12-16, 2021. Sessions will be hosted between 11am and 5pm Central Time. A sample schedule for this year’s program is available here.


Thanks to a generous gift from Trott Family Philanthropies, students admitted to the program will receive a scholarship to cover the tuition cost, program activities, and materials.