The application for the Class of 2028 is closed. The application for the Class of 2029 will open in November 2023.
Chicago Scholars is looking for:
Juniors in high school
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 United States) and/or students who come from a low-income household
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
*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 show an upward trajectory in your academic performance.
The online application will ask a student to submit the following:
Basic personal information
Academic profile information, including GPA, test scores, and a transcript uploaded by your high school counselor
1 letter of recommendation
Information about your involvement in leadership and extracurricular activities
1 short answer essay and 1 personal narrative essay
The deadline is in February of every year. Please check the application page for the specific date.
If you submit your completed application by the priority deadline and meet all our stated requirements, you will be guaranteed an admission interview. This is a big deal, as only a certain number of students who apply will be asked to move forward to this phase of our application process.
Please note that if you meet the priority deadline, your counselor and recommender still have until the standard deadline to submit your letter of recommendation and transcript.
Chicago Scholars staff members take a big-picture approach to reviewing applications. We’re looking for 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 not just to a student’s academic profile, but also to his/her/their character, leadership qualities, academic goals, and potential contributions to the Chicago Scholars community.
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 the second phase of the process, a required interview. Students who are not invited to the next stage will also receive communications from Chicago Scholars with information about other resources that may be helpful to them.
April: Required interviews are conducted for prospective Scholars by Chicago Scholars partners, alumni, staff, and volunteers.
May: Final decisions are sent to students who have been accepted to the Chicago Scholars class. Accepted students then begin the enrollment process. Students who are not admitted to the program are also notified.
June: All accepted students are required to attend New Scholar Orientation. Accepted students who do not attend New Scholar Orientation cannot move forward in the program.
July and onward: Scholars begin to participate in the Chicago Scholars programming, including attending monthly workshops, college counseling sessions, meetings with mentors, starting the process of applying to college, and more.
If you experience any technological issues while completing your application, please email the Community Engagement Team directly at email@example.com with a detailed description or error message that you are receiving (a screenshot helps!) so we can assist as soon as possible.
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 the Community Engagement Team at firstname.lastname@example.org
Letters of recommendation are requested and submitted electronically by Chicago Scholars. Once the contact information for a recommender is entered and the student saves their progress, the information will be saved in our system. Chicago Scholars begins sending out requests for letters of recommendation in mid-January. Once the request has been sent, the recommender will receive an email with a unique link to a recommendation form. Note: All recommendations must be submitted online through our secure platform. When completing an application, please ensure all contact information is entered correctly.
Once your letter of recommendation has been submitted, both you and your recommender will receive a confirmation email stating that we received the letter of recommendation. However, please know that students will not have access to view the letter of recommendation or its contents.
Please check the application page for all deadlines.
Standardized test scores are considered a supplement to a student’s high school transcript when applying to Chicago Scholars. An applicant will not be granted or denied advancement within the application process solely based on their test score(s).
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.
Your high counselor will submit your transcript directly to Chicago Scholars on your behalf. In late January, all identified counselors will receive an email with a unique submission link for each applicant.
When reviewing applications, we consider many aspects of students’ academic profile. We understand there are a multitude of reasons why a student may have a GPA that falls below our academic threshold. Test scores are only used to supplement a student’s academic profile. If in doubt, you may contact the Chicago Scholars Community Engagement Team directly at email@example.com to discuss any concerns.
In March, students will be notified by email if their application was moved on to the interview stage. All interview details, including the date, time, and location of the assigned interview will be outlined in the invitation.
Currently, the required interview phase of our application process is hybrid, with some sessions happening over Zoom and others in person. Prospective Scholars will be made aware of any changes to this process.
Dress to impress! Business casual attire is a must for your interview. You want to look and feel professional.
Practice with someone. Ask a parent, teacher, mentor or friend to ask you some sample interview questions and give you feedback on your responses, including your volume, tone, and pace.
Be confident! If you got an interview, your application was compelling.
Plan ahead. If your interview is in person, double check the address and figure out your travel plans. Make sure you leave yourself enough time to arrive, get settled, take a breath, and do any last-minute prep before your interview time.
You will be interviewed by 1-2 adults. They will ask you questions about yourself, your goals for the future, and how Chicago Scholars can assist you in your journey.
This year, Chicago Scholars is participating in a Randomized Control Trial with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago. This means our final class selections will be made by lottery in collaboration with Chapin Hall. Once final selections have been made, all applicants will be notified of their admissions status via email in May.
Chicago Scholars partners with each Scholar to build a path to the future they want for themselves. As a high school senior participating in the Chicago Scholars program, you’ll be expected to complete the following:
College Access Workshops: Workshops are held for an hour and a half each month at the Chicago Scholars office. Workshops are designed to bring Scholars together in community with other Scholars and mentors and learn critical information about the college application process, financial aid process, and to sharpen your leadership development skills.
1:1 College Counseling: College counseling sessions take place virtually or at the Chicago Scholars office for one hour nearly every month. These sessions allow students to meet with their college counselor to discuss and implement their postsecondary plan. Some of these sessions will also require a parent or family member to be present to ensure they are looped in and informed of your plan.
Mentor Check-Ins: Mentors are volunteers who have committed to working with students through their college application, selection process, and help support their leadership development. 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 College and Leadership Forum, College Choice Activities, and more.
Chicago Scholars creates a seven-year relationship with students that extends beyond 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 support resources on campus, assist them in understanding financial aid, and 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, Scholars join a growing Alumni community of leaders in Chicago and all over the country.
Chicago Scholars does not award financial scholarships to Scholars. Instead, we assist Scholars with the process of applying to scholarships as a supplement to any financial aid awards/grants/loans they may receive directly from colleges. We also have over 10+ internal scholarships that are exclusively available for our Scholars to apply to for a variety of interests, career fields, and ethnic backgrounds.
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.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 312-784-3300 with any additional questions. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible!