Section One: Application Questions

Q. Where can I find the application to Chicago Scholars?

A. The application for the Class of 2024 is entirely online.  Click here to access the application.


Q. What are the requirements to become a Chicago Scholar?

A. Chicago Scholars is looking for students who:

  • Juniors in high school who will graduate in 2020.

  • Students who live and attend high school in Chicago.

  • Students who will be a first-generation college student (neither parent graduated from a four-year college in the US) and/or students who come from an under-resourced community.

  • Students who are academically ambitious, motivated, and believe in the possibility of their unique superpowers.

  • Students who are demonstrated leaders in their schools, communities, or homes.

  • Students who are committed to furthering their education and have a strong desire to attend a 4-year college.

  • Mature students who can fully commit to a rigorous academic and leadership development program.

  • Students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and a minimum ACT score of 20 or PSAT score of 1020.*

*If you are a student with an academic profile that does not meet these criteria and would like to apply, we will provide a space for you to provide proof of an upward trajectory in your academic performance in the essay portion of this application.

Q. What does the application to Chicago Scholars consist of?

A. The online application will ask a student to submit the following:

  • Basic personal information.

  • Extracurricular involvement (including demonstrated leadership experience) and work experience, if applicable.

  • 2 short essay responses.

  • 1 letter of recommendation and a transcript from your high school counselor.

Q. When is the deadline to apply to Chicago Scholars?

A. The deadline to apply for the Chicago Scholars Class of 2024 is Wednesday, February 13th, 2019. Please note that late applications will not be accepted. If a student is unable to submit the complete application by the stated deadline, he/she will not be considered for program participation and will be unable to reapply the following year, since a student must be a junior in high school at the time of applying.

Q. What does the priority deadline mean?

A. This year, Chicago Scholars announced a priority deadline for the College Class of 2024 application. If you submit your completed application by midnight on Sunday, February 3rd and meet all of our stated requirements, you will be guaranteed a Chicago Scholars admission interview. This is a big deal, as only a certain number of students who apply will be asked to move forward to the required interview round.

Importantly, if you do choose to submit your application by the priority deadline, your letter of recommendation and transcript are not due on February 3rd. Those are still required by the regular deadline of February 13th. So, no need to stress out your counselor and teacher/coach/mentor, etc. with a new, urgent request. If you choose not to submit by the priority deadline, your application will still be due by February 13th.


Q. How is my application evaluated by Chicago Scholars?

A. Chicago Scholars staff will utilize a holistic (big picture) approach in reviewing each application. We seek to identify students who are committed to their postsecondary success and will demonstrate their commitment through full participation in our program. As we read applications, we give careful consideration to not just a student’s academic profile, but also to his/her character, leadership qualities through sustained involvement in school and community activities, and his/her potential contributions to the Chicago Scholars community.


Q. What is the timeline for the application and acceptance process?

A. The application will close on Wednesday, February 13th, 2019. Here’s what happens after your application is submitted:

  • February: Chicago Scholars staff review all submitted applications and convene to select students to move to the interview stage.

  • March: Invitations are sent to students for an interview with an assigned date, time, and location. Students who are not invited to the interview stage will also receive communications from Chicago Scholars.

  • March/April: Interviews take place at various locations throughout the city

  • May: Final decisions are sent to students who have been accepted to the Chicago Scholars class, who then begin the enrollment process. Students who are not offered admission to the program are also notified.

  • June: New Scholar Orientation takes place, which is a required event for all accepted students to attend. Accepted students who do not attend New Scholar Orientation are unable to move forward with participating in the program.

  • July and onward: Scholars participate in normal programming, including attendance at a monthly workshop, a monthly counseling session, and involvement with adult mentors


Q. Who do I contact if I am having troubles resuming my progress from a saved application or submitting my application?

A. Please email us directly at with a detailed description or error message that you are receiving (a screenshot image would be helpful!) so we can troubleshoot your problem as soon as possible.


Q. Can I change information on my application once it has been submitted?

A. No, once you submit your application, you are unable to go back and change any of the information included. If you inaccurately reported information, or if you feel there is an essential component of your application that must be updated, please contact


Q. How do I submit my two letters of recommendation?

A. Letters of recommendation are requested and submitted electronically through the online application. Once the contact information for a recommender is entered, the request will be sent as soon as the student saves their progress on the application. A student does not need to wait to submit the application for the recommendation request to be sent. As soon as a student saves the application with the recommenders’ contact information entered, the recommender will receive a unique link to an online recommendation form to complete and submit on behalf of the student. Paper recommendations are not accepted on behalf of students. Please ensure all contact information is entered correctly for the process to run smoothly.


Q. How will I know when my recommendations have been submitted?

A. Once your letter of recommendation has been submitted, both you and your recommender will receive a receipt by email confirming that we received it as part of the application. Please know that students will not have access to view the letter of recommendation or its contents.


Q. When are my letters of recommendation due?

A. Letters of recommendation are due on the same day as the Chicago Scholars application, Wednesday, February 13th, 2019.


Q. How will Chicago Scholars evaluate my test score?

A. This year, Chicago Public Schools students will be taking the SAT as their standardized test. Since students will not be taking their official SAT until April, students may not have an official SAT score to report to Chicago Scholars when applying for the program. Instead, applicants will provide their PSAT score or an ACT score if available. Once a student is admitted to the program, they will be asked to provide the official SAT or ACT score report as part of their enrollment.


Q. Can students who are non-US citizens apply for the Chicago Scholars program?

A. Yes! Students who are non-US citizens are definitely encouraged to apply for the Chicago Scholars program. Our college counseling team is trained to work with students to identify colleges that will best support them through their undergraduate experience.


Q. How do I submit my transcript to Chicago Scholars?

A. Your high school counselor will submit your transcript directly to Chicago Scholars on your behalf. Once you submit your recommendation request to your counselor, this person will receive a link to the online recommendation form to complete. Included in this recommendation is the requirement for counselors to upload your transcript before submitting your completed recommendation. High school counselors will not receive a request to submit your recommendation and transcript until grades from the first semester of your junior year are available.


Q. I have a high/low GPA but a low/high PSAT/SAT/ACT score. How does that affect my chances of being accepted?

A. Students should demonstrate academic talent and ambition by achieving a 3.0 or higher grade point average and strong standardized test scores. However, we consider many aspects of students' applications and past Scholars have been accepted with many combinations of grades and scores. Equally important as a strong academic record is that students have worked diligently in their classes, taken rigorous course loads, and have been involved in activities at school, in their communities, or at home. If in doubt, talk with your counselor, principal, or teachers. You may also contact the Chicago Scholars Community Engagement Team directly at 312-784-3300 or

Section Two: Interview Stage Questions

Q. When will I be notified if I have moved on to the interview stage?

A. In March, students will be notified by email if they will be moving into the interview stage. All interview details, including date, time, and location will be included in the invitation, and students will receive several reminders leading up to their interview.


Q. Where do interviews take place?

A. Interviews take place throughout the Chicago Loop at various company and organization offices. You will receive your assigned date, time, and location in the email from Chicago Scholars, which will include the address and parking information. Please know that not every student interviews at the Chicago Scholars office, nor does every student interview at the same offsite location. Typically, there are two interview nights occurring at different locations on the same evening. Be sure to read your invitation carefully so you know where your assigned location is and give yourself plenty of time to arrive at the location at least 15 minutes before your interview is scheduled to begin.


Q. What can I do to prepare for the interview?

  • Dress to impress! Business casual attire is a must for your interview. You want to look and feel professional. Check your invitation for tips on what to wear.

  • Practice with someone: Ask a parent, teacher, mentor or friend to ask you some sample interview questions and practice your responses. Have them give you feedback on your volume, tone, and pace, as well as the quality of your response.

  • Be confident! Be ready to put your best foot forward and show your interviewer how you would make a great Chicago Scholar.

  • Plan your route: Spend time making sure you have transportation to get to your interview. Plan for delays on the CTA or for traffic to ensure you don’t miss your scheduled slot.


Q. What can I expect to take place during the interview?

A. Interviews last approximately 20 minutes. Interviewers will ask questions to get to know more about you, your interests and hobbies inside and outside of the classroom, and your plans for the future.


Q. What happens if I am unable to attend on my assigned interview date?

A. Unfortunately, due to the number of students invited to interview, we are unable to accommodate requests to reschedule interviews. Interview nights take place over the course of many nights and weeks, and they require the help of staff and volunteers alike to make possible. Students who are late to their interview or who do not attend their assigned interview will not move forward in the Chicago Scholars program.


Q. What happens after my interview takes place?

A. Chicago Scholars staff meet once more to review the student’s application and interview score in order to select students for the Class of 2023. All students will be notified by email of their admissions decision.

Section Three: Program Participation Questions

Q. As a Chicago Scholar, what will be expected of me?

A. Once you are a Chicago Scholar, we team together so you can achieve your vision of success. As a high school senior participating in the Chicago Scholars program, you’ll be expected to complete the following:

  • One workshop a month: Workshops are held for an hour and a half each month at the Chicago Scholars office. Workshops are designed to bring Scholars together in a community with other Scholars and mentors and learn critical information about the college application and financial aid process.

  • One college counseling session a month: College counseling sessions take place at the Chicago Scholars office for one hour nearly every month. These sessions allow students to meet one on one with their college counselor to discuss and implement their postsecondary plan.

  • Regular check-ins with your adult mentors: Mentors are volunteers who have shown a commitment to working with our students through their college application and selection process. Often, mentors will arrange social activities and smaller work sessions for their Scholars to provide them with individualized attention and support.

Scholars also participate in other required events geared towards their college success, such as the Scholars College Fair, Onsite Admissions Forum, College Choice Celebration, and All Scholar Retreat.


Q. Does the Chicago Scholars program end once I graduate from high school?

A. Chicago Scholars creates a 7-year relationship with students that extends beyond just the last year of high school. Once you select and enroll in your college, Chicago Scholars will continue to support you through your undergraduate experience. Scholars receive a College Success Team staff member who works to connect them with supports on campus, assist them in understanding financial aid, and checks in to ensure that Scholars are adjusting to the academic and social atmosphere on their campus. Our support also ensures that students are taking advantage of internship and job opportunities to gain experience in their desired career field. Once a Scholar graduates from college, Chicago Scholars continues to support them two years into their career with interview training, resume writing workshops, job shadowing opportunities, and career mentors.


Q. Isn’t Chicago Scholars a scholarship program? Will I receive a scholarship if I am chosen as a Chicago Scholar?

A. Chicago Scholars no longer awards financial scholarships to Scholars. Instead, we provide numerous opportunities for our Scholars to receive awards directly from our college partners. Most of our Scholars receive substantial scholarships as well as generous financial aid packages from the colleges they choose to attend. Last year, Scholars received scholarship award offers totaling more than $48 million at our Annual Onsite Admissions Forum!

Additionally, our College Platinum Partners share our mission and are dedicated to supporting our Scholars with financial support, strong academic advising, and leadership opportunities as Scholars enroll, persist, and graduate from college. Platinum Partners have pledged to provide Chicago Scholars with full demonstrated financial need through graduation. This includes funding support to visit campuses even before committing to attend, on-campus liaisons, and access and encouragement to become involved in campus leadership initiatives once accepted.

Don't see an answer to your question?

Email us at or call us at 312-784-3300.  We'll get back to you as soon as possible!