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Emerging Rural Leaders I: Freshmen

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 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.

Course 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, 2019 -

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

emerging rural leaders students pose for a group picture

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.

Program Contact: All questions should be directed to Marjorie Betley at

Application Requirements

Eligibility: Current high school freshmen, who are at least 14 years old, and who attend a rural or small-town high school* within the United States. Students of any citizenship who meet this criteria are eligible to apply.

To be considered, applicants must complete an online application, provide an updated high school transcript, and respond to a short essay. A nomination from a teacher or counselor is also recommended, and can be completed here.

Applicants must select “Enrichment Programs,” and then they will be able to select this program.

Applications will be accepted online beginning January 3, 2023. The deadline to apply is March 1, 2023. All application decisions for this program will be released at the same time in mid-April.

*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 Marjorie Betley at

Tuition & Fees

Thanks to the gift from Trott Family Philanthropies, program participants will receive a scholarship to cover the tuition cost, program activities, materials, and roundtrip transportation. Students will need to have their own health insurance.

Program Dates

July 16 - 21, 2023

Arrival date: Sun., July 16

Class starts: Mon., July 17

Class concludes: Fri., July 21

Departure: Fri., July 21