Leadership Opportunities For High School Students

24 Leadership Opportunities For High School Students

Leadership opportunities for high school student’s performance and extracurricular activities will improve your college application profile and enrich your high school experience.

Leadership is one of the most popular soft skills that students want to study and improve. This article will discuss high school leadership programs for students from various backgrounds and cities.

Leadership opportunities for high school students are a crucial component of the college application process. As a young adult, you should focus on developing your leadership skills.

While high school curricula prepare you for the academic demands of college, leadership programs for high school students prepare you for success outside of the classroom.

Leadership Opportunities For High School Students

Leadership opportunities for high school students programs can help you develop talents beyond academics.

1. Bank of America Student Leadership Program

The Bank of America Student Leaders Program is a summer experience program for 300 junior and senior high school students. Students will complete an 8-week paid internship at a local nonprofit/charitable organization.

Students will gain leadership skills while benefiting their local community and attending Washington DC’s leadership conference.

During the internship, students collaborate with a non-profit group to address community issues like education, the environment, or economic growth. They also take part in leadership development events and get the chance to network with corporate and community leaders.

The leadership summit brings together Student Leaders from all around the country for a week of professional development, networking, and skill-building.

The summit includes workshops, panel discussions, and community service projects, allowing students to learn from corporate and community leaders while also developing long-term ties with their classmates.

Eligibility: A current junior or senior in high school must live in eligible locations, be in good standing, and have legal authorization to work in the United States without sponsorship.

Date: Eight weeks.

Location: Multiple.

Cost: Free.

Application Deadline: January 17, 2024.

2. The National Student Leadership Conference

The National Student Leadership Conference is open to students in grades six through twelve.

Students in the leadership program receive leadership training, hands-on simulations of job scenarios, guest speaker presentations, and firsthand experience on college campuses.

In addition to the leadership program, students can attend summer programs in business, STEM, government and law, art and design, and other areas.

Date: one week.

Cost: Starting at $3,795

Application Deadlines: Rolling Admission

3. University of Notre Dame Leadership Seminars

Leadership Seminar is a competitive 10-day high school leadership program for current juniors looking to develop their leadership abilities.

120 admitted students will study global concerns affecting many fields. Admitted students are in the top 10% of their class, with SAT math and reading scores ranging from 1300-1500 or ACT scores of 31 or above.

Eligibility: Current high school juniors, at least 16 years old.

Dates: July 20 to July 31, 2024.

Location: South Bend, Indiana.

Cost: $60 application fee and $150 non-refundable enrollment cost.

Application deadline: January 22, 2024.

4. The University of Pennsylvania Wharton – Leadership in Business

Leadership in the Business World (LBW) is a rigorous summer high school leadership program for rising seniors. Students will learn about business and have the opportunity to improve their leadership, teamwork, and communication skills.

In addition, students will do business research and interview successful leaders from many industries. After completing the program, all participants will earn a Wharton Global Youth Certificate of Completion.

Eligibility: High school students enrolled in grade 11. They must have leadership experience and have a GPA of 3.5 or better. International candidates are welcome.

Dates: June 9–June 29, 2024; June 30–July 20, 2024.
July 21 – August 10, 2024

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Cost: $10,999

Application Deadline: Priority deadline: January 31, 2024; final deadline: April 3, 2024.

5. Tufts’ Leadership for Social Change

Tufts University invites high school students to participate in a virtual experience that will allow them to influence local and global social challenges.

Students will gain leadership skills and civic awareness through the curriculum, allowing them to interact and collaborate.

Leadership for Social Change (LSC) teaches rising high school sophomores and seniors about the various ways social change and civic leaders respond to societal ruptures, with this year’s focus on the systemic disturbances caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

These topics will include education inequality, community health disparities, food justice, public policy, and others. The program’s goal will be to provide students with the necessary skills and knowledge to lead and emerge as change agents capable of managing societal difficulties.

Eligibility: High school students entering grades 10–12.

Dates: July 7-19, 2024 (on-campus) / July 28–August 9, 2024 (virtual)

Cost: $5,500

Application deadline: May 1, 2024.

6. Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Leadership Program

The Reagan Foundation created Ronald Reagan’s Presidential Leadership Program. The program invites high school students to a week-long event that teaches them about making informed decisions, communicating effectively, and forming purposeful opinions. Students can pick from four programs.

  • Finding The Leader In You: June 25-28, 2024, or July 16-19, 2024 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. PST. daily
  • Leadership in Action: June 17–21, 2024 / July 8–12, 2024 / July 29–August 2, 2024 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily
  • Virtual Leadership Program: August 5 – 9, 2024, 10 am – 2:30 pm daily.

Application Deadline: Rolling Admission

7. SWENext High School Leadership Academy (SHLA)

Students interested in engineering and technology will take part in an exciting virtual year-round program. They will gain self-confidence, network, and receive training in STEM subjects and soft skills such as leadership.

No dates are available.

Location: Virtual

Cost: N/A

Application deadline: To be available.

8. Brown University’s Pre-College Leadership Institute

Students in grades 9-12 can enroll in the two-week on-campus or four-week virtual program to learn about a wide range of global challenges while developing problem-solving, public speaking, active listening, and collaborative leadership skills.

Students will select one course from among several options, each concentrating on current topics.

Eligibility: Students completing grades 9-12, aged 14-18.


  • On Campus: June 23 – July 5, and July 14 – July 26
  • Online: June 24 – July 19.

Location: Brown University campus in Providence, Rhode Island / online via Canvas, Brown’s Learning Management System.

Cost: $5,498 (on campus) and $5,314 (online).

Application deadline: May 10, 2024.

10. The Yale Young Global Scholars

Students from over 150 nations are encouraged to take part in the two-week virtual high school leadership program.

Students will be able to choose from a wide range of courses, including Innovations in Science and Technology; Literature, Philosophy, and Culture; Politics, Law, and Economics; and Solving Global Challenges.

The Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) program is an intensive academic and leadership development program that provides a mix of academic seminars and leadership development activities. Its goal is to challenge students academically while also helping them develop their leadership skills.

Eligibility: Be at least 16 years old and currently a high school sophomore or junior.

Dates: June 23-July 5, July 7-July 19, and July 21-August 2.

Location: On Campus

Cost: $6,500

Application deadline: January 10, 2024.

11. Summer Discovery Leadership Programmes

Summer Discovery collaborates with different colleges in the United States, England, and Singapore to deliver a variety of high school leadership programs.

In 1966, the Musiker Family established Summer Discovery as Musiker Student Tours. The hands-on curriculum will give students a solid grasp of leadership as well as networking chances with business executives via workshops and off-campus excursions.

Eligibility: Students in grades 6 through 12.

Date: Four weeks.

Application Deadline: Varies.

12. The Indiana University Young Women’s Institute

Indiana University invites young, high-achieving female students to participate in a one-week business high school leadership program.

Students will attend workshops led by renowned Kelley School of Business teachers while developing leadership and communication skills through case study projects with other female leaders.

Eligibility: Current sophomores and juniors.

Dates: vary from March to October.

Location: On campus

Cost: Free.

Application deadline: varies from February to May.

13. The MIT Leadership Training Institute (LTI)

MIT Leadership Training Institute, offered by MIT, is a leadership and community service program for local high school students in the spring.

Students will be trained in leadership skills, perform community service, and be mentored by diverse leaders. Past community service initiatives have focused on peer tutoring resources, wellness, and creativity.

Dates: February 11, 2024–May 11, 2024.

Location: On campus

Cost: Free.

Application deadline: December 1

14. Lead4Change: Student Leadership Program

A free online leadership curriculum and program for 6th-12th grades that teaches effective leadership skills for long-term change in your school or community.

Lead4Change, funded by David Novak Leadership, provides free access to a service-learning framework that teaches collaboration, problem-solving, planning, proposals, leadership, and other skills based on the #1 New York Times bestseller Taking People With You.

The program finishes with students pitching their service ideas remotely to a panel of judges for a chance to earn financing of up to $10,000.

Eligibility: Student teams of three or more 6th-12th students, assisted by one adult instructor or advisor.

Application deadline: Enrollment is always open. Project submission deadlines are February 9, 2024, and April 12, 2024.

15. Barnard College. The Young Woman’s Leadership Institute

The program is aimed at students who are curious and passionate about developing their leadership skills. The Institute will challenge and encourage attendees to approach leadership via a feminist lens.

It will allow them to take a course from one of the seven tracks available and collaborate in small groups to design and implement solutions based on the skills they learned in their courses and workshops.

Participants will also have the opportunity to meet with women in various workplaces across the city to hear about the skills and perseverance required to excel in today’s workforce. The curriculum provides four paths, and students can select the one that best suits their interests.

Session 1: June 30th – July 19th, 2024.

Session 2: July 22nd–August 10th, 2024.

Application Deadlines: Rolling Admission

16. FBI/LEEDA Youth Leadership Program

Every summer, the FBI-Law Enforcement Executive Development Association, in collaboration with the FBI National Academy Associates, holds a week-long training session for high school students at the FBI Academy known as the Youth Leadership Program (YLP).

To be eligible, candidates must be 14, 15, or 16 years old, have high academic requirements, and be responsible citizens.

Deadline: February 2, 2024.

17. Cradles to Crayons Teen Leadership Corps (TLC)

Cradles to Crayons’ Teen Leadership Corps (TLC) is a program that allows high school students to acquire leadership abilities and make a difference in their community by working as volunteer leaders for the organization.

The program’s goal is to encourage and inspire youth to become responsible and involved citizens through volunteer activities and leadership training.

TLC members are trained to lead volunteer groups, arrange community service initiatives, and receive significant experience in nonprofit, community service, and leadership roles.

The TLC program runs three times a year: in the spring (March-May), summer (June-August), and fall (October-December).

18. The Leadership Academy at Saunders

The Leadership Academy at Saunders bridges the gap between business and technology by offering creative leadership development opportunities to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students, alumni, and working professionals.

The Academy provides a variety of experimental co-curricular programs to help students improve their personal and professional leadership skills. The Academy hopes that by providing these possibilities, it may favorably impact the corporate environment and the global community.

Rochester Institute of Technology provides a variety of certificate programs, unique experiences such as Students Leading Business Camp, and mentorship programs for students to choose from.

Application Timeline: varies based on the program

19. The American Legion Auxiliary Girls State

American Legion Auxiliary units choose and sponsor female high school students for the Girls State program through a competitive process.

They learn about the political process by voting for people at all levels of state government and actively operating a fake government. The females are divided into mock cities and allocated to either the “Federalist Party” or the “Nationalist Party.”

Dedicated ALA volunteers guarantee that the program’s nonpartisan governmental, patriotic, and civic aims are met through participatory learning. Candidates should be passionate about government and current affairs, as well as possess good leadership skills.

Eligibility: Female high school juniors in the United States.

Dates: State dates can vary.

Cost: The cost of ALA Girls State programs is covered by each state’s American Legion Auxiliary. The sponsoring local American Legion Auxiliary unit covers the registration fees for ALA Girls State delegates, with extra help and financing from various civic and philanthropic organizations on occasion.

Participating young women may incur minor costs for transportation, site-specific fees, or contributions to an optional service project.

Selectivity: High

20. Boys State organized by the American Legion

American Legion Boys State is one of the most prestigious and selective government education programs available to high school students in the United States.

Participants learn about franchised citizens’ rights, privileges, and duties. Legion posts chose high school juniors to attend the program.

The majority of personal expenses are covered by the sponsoring post, a local business, or another community-based group. The training is objective, focusing on the organization of local, county, and state governments.

Boys State events are run by students elected to various posts and include legislative sessions, court hearings, law-enforcement presentations, assemblies, bands, choirs, and leisure programs.

Eligibility: Male high school students who demonstrate leadership, character, scholarship, dedication, and service to their schools and communities should be considered.

Dates: State dates can vary.

Cost: varies based on state.

Selectivity: High.

21. Harvard Summer School Secondary School Program

The Secondary School program at Harvard Summer School allows students to go deeper into a passion or subject beyond what is offered in high school.

The tough academic environment guarantees that students pursue interests that could lead to future jobs. This seven-week educational program allows high school students to have firsthand experience at Harvard by attending college classes alongside college and high school students for credit.

In addition to their classes, students interact with other peer groups and learn how to balance academics, extracurricular activities, and networking.

There are several programs available, including Environmental Science, Introduction to Political Philosophy, The Psychology of Cults, and Introduction to Statistics and Applied Data Analysis.

Participants can select between three program formats: residential, online, and commuting for students who live in the neighborhood.

Eligibility: Mature, intellectually motivated students who graduate from high school and begin college in 2023, 2024, or 2025, are at least 16 years old on June 17, 2023, and will not turn 19 before July 31, 2023.

Program dates: June 20, 2023 to August 5, 2023.

Location: On-campus or online

Cost: $3600 to $13750 plus a $75 application fee.

Early Application Deadline: January 25, 2023.

Regular Application Deadline: February 22, 2023.

Late Application Deadline: April 26, 2023.

Selectivity: moderate.

22. The Boston Leadership Institute

The Boston Leadership Institute is a summer program for high and pre-high school students located in Boston and the surrounding areas. Their programs are meant to provide students with practical experience, preparing them to be leaders in STEM and business disciplines.

The Boston Leadership Institute offers two types of programs, three-week programs and one-week programs.

Three-week programs provide in-depth introductions to areas such as science, engineering, medicine, and business, allowing high school students to engage with these topics through field trips, facilities, and project ideas.

One-week programs allow students with little time to delve into a STEM subject. Students can take many one-week programs in a sequence without having to apply, allowing them to better grasp the courses they are interested in.

EDGE workshops are one-week workshops that give students a head start on the subject they will cover in their Fall classes.

The Boston Leadership Institute provides in-depth, immersive programs for students entering grades 8-12 in all locations.

Eligibility: Students entering grades 10–12.

Location: The Boston Leadership Institute campus

Dates: vary from program to program.

Cost: varies from program to program.

The application deadline: varies from program to program.

Selectivity: moderate.

23. Model G-20 Youth Leadership Summit

Model G20 is the world’s leading initiative for young people committed to global leadership. The summit brings together high school students from throughout the globe.

Previous Model G20 summits included students from over 40 nations. Students can engage in experiential learning by role-playing as world leaders in a dynamic experience. The curriculum is devised and implemented by Harvard-trained educators and industry professionals.

Work as a team to solve a real-world problem confronting today’s society. Previous summits addressed topics such as climate change, space exploration, urban planning, global health, and more.

Throughout the curriculum, students will act as delegates for a country, immersing themselves in the subject, researching all sides of the situation, and proposing a novel solution. While previous summits were attended in person, current ones have been hosted virtually due to the ongoing pandemic. Summits are held throughout the year, including during winter break and summer.

Program Fee: $399 for the virtual summit.

Program dates: fall, winter, and summer.

Duration: 1 week.

24. Global Citizenship Year Academy

Thinking about taking a gap year? For seniors in high school (ages 17-21), or students who have recently graduated from high school, Global Citizen Year Academy offers the opportunity to spend a 12-week semester gaining leadership skills, exploring issues on a global scale, and getting to know a cohort of students representing over 80 countries.

The program is delivered remotely and is meant as a 7-10 hour weekly commitment that you may add to your full-time study.

Students at the Academy receive a rare opportunity to hear from world-class lecturers such as Melinda Gates and Shawn Mendes. After finishing the program, you will have access to an alumni network of over 1,200 people, ensuring that the connections you create will remain far beyond the 12 weeks.

Program Fee: $5,000.

Program Dates: Fall 2022 Semester (precise dates TBD)

Duration: twelve weeks.

Why are there leadership programs in high schools?

For starters, many of these programs focus on building skills that are required for academic and professional success, such as communication, problem-solving, collaboration/leadership, and critical thinking.

Students who participate in leadership programs can learn how to collaborate effectively with others, lead projects, and devise successful methods.

How do I choose a summer leadership program?

The program’s credibility: one approach to determine this is to search for statistics on the acceptance rate, hosting/affiliated organizations, mentor types, and how rigorous the application process is.

Cohort size and Mentorship: A smaller cohort size may suggest the program’s selectivity. There may also be instances where the entire cohort is broken into smaller groups, with mentors collaborating closely with students. In either case, make sure you understand how accessible the program’s facilitators are so you can get the most out of your learning through more involvement.

The leadership program’s mission: varies depending on the program, catering to various domains. For example, Brown University’s Pre-College Leadership Program promotes social justice, whereas the University of Pennsylvania’s Leadership Program focuses on business leadership. As a result, it is critical to conduct additional studies, grasp the program’s mission, and align it with your objectives.

Leadership programs for high school students: Are they worthwhile?

Leadership abilities will benefit you no matter what you choose to do after high school or college. Becoming a better leader entails improving one’s listening skills, critical thinking abilities, and civic responsibility.

After completing the Model G20 program, 97% of participants report feeling more confident in addressing global concerns. An extra 87% enhanced their cross-cultural communication abilities, which are essential in today’s increasingly interconnected economy.

Many students highlight their Model G20 experience on their college resumes to demonstrate their global education and critical thinking skills while cooperating on projects.

Colleges prefer to see that students have spent time both inside and outside of the classroom improving their understanding of the world and developing their leadership qualities, which is why many of our students go on to attend prestigious universities like Harvard, Oxford, Dartmouth, Columbia, and more.

Joining a leadership program is an investment of both time and money, but if you put forth your best effort, you will emerge as a more knowledgeable and effective member of society. Learn more about Model G20 and what previous students have said about the program as you assess if a leadership program is right for you.

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