11 Politics and Leadership Programs for High School Students

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a male student using his laptop

11 Politics and Leadership Programs for High School Students

Exploring politics and leadership programs for high school students is an excellent way to prepare for college and beyond. Pre-college programs in these fields offer valuable insights into how governments operate, the complexities of global issues, and the skills necessary for effective leadership. For students interested in the areas of politics and leadership, we’ve put together a list of 11 top pre-college programs that provide a rich blend of academic learning and practical experience.

These programs range from immersive workshops on international relations to hands-on leadership seminars. They’re designed to challenge and inspire young minds, helping you develop critical thinking, public speaking, and decision-making skills. If you’re interested in a future in leadership and politics or just want to know more about the world, these 11 pre-college programs are a great chance to learn and get ready for what’s ahead. They help you grow and give you a head start on your future plans.

1. The NextGen Leadership Institute at Barnard College

  • Location: Barnard College, New York, New York.
  • Cost: $9,687 ( Residential); $7,772 (Commuter)
  • Program Dates: Session 1: June 30- July 19, 2024; Session 2: July 22- August 10, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising sophomores, juniors, and seniors in high school or Gap Year Students.

The NextGen Leadership Institute, previously the Young Women’s Leadership Institute, focuses on gender and leadership. It encourages participants to be curious and passionate, offering a chance to develop leadership skills through hands-on projects and networking with professional women. The institute provides four specialized tracks tailored to different interests.

Asian student girl looking at group mate talking

The STEMinist track centers on STEM subjects and addresses gender inequality in these fields. The Writing and Literature track helps students express their voice, inspired by famous authors. The Global Humanities track explores societal and global complexities, while the Art, Movement, and Performance track immerses students in art history, visual arts, and dance, with opportunities for creative expression in New York City’s artistic scene. Each track aims to inspire personal and professional growth in a dynamic workforce.

2. Brown University Leadership Institute

  • Location: Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island.
  • Cost: $5,498 ( Residential); $4,318 (Commuter); $5,314 (Online)
  • Program Dates: Session 1: June 23- July 5, 2024; Session 2: July 14- July 26, 2024; Online: June 24- July 19, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 10, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students completing grades 9 to 12, ages 14 to 18.

One of the country’s leading politics and leadership programs for high school students,  The Brown Leadership Institute offers programs for young people to learn about social justice and leadership. You can choose between a two-week program on campus or a four-week online course. Here, students from around the world discuss important topics like law, education, and activism. The program helps you improve skills like listening, speaking, problem-solving, and teamwork. You’ll also choose a special topic, like Women and Leadership or Social Change in Sports, and make a plan to use what you learn in your community.

During the program, you’ll take part in workshops that teach about different leadership styles and how to speak in public. You’ll learn about leading diverse groups and get better at solving problems and working with others. The goal is to help you understand how to be a leader in society and improve your skills in communication and teamwork.

3. Brown Environmental Leadership Labs

  • Location: Alaska; Eastern Sierras; Rhode Island
  • Cost: Alaska: $6,958; Eastern Sierras: $6,958; Rhode Island: $5,716
  • Program Dates: Alaska: July 14- July 27; Eastern Sierras: July 25- Aug 4; Rhode Island: July 7- July 19, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 8, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students completing grades 10 to 12, ages 16 to 18.

The Brown Environmental Leadership Lab (BELL) teaches high school students about the environment and how to be responsible leaders. There are three different BELL programs: in Alaska, the Eastern Sierras, and Rhode Island. In each program, students learn about environmental issues, go on field trips, and work on a project to help solve an environmental problem.

In the Alaska program, students learn about Native history and the environment. They travel to different places in Alaska for hands-on learning. In the Eastern Sierras program, students focus on science and visit natural sites in Nevada and California. The Rhode Island program is at Brown University and includes courses on climate change and local food systems, with trips around Rhode Island. All these programs help students understand how they can help the environment in their own communities.

4. Yale Young Global Scholars

  • Location: Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
  • Cost: $6,500
  • Program Dates: Session 1: June 23- July 5; Session 2: July 7- July 19; Session 3: July 21- August 2, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 10, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students ages 16-18 years old.

The Yale Young Global Scholars (YYGS) program is a two-week summer program for high school students from over 150 countries and all U.S. states. It offers classes in STEM, social sciences, and humanities. Students get financial aid and learn in a group setting, discussing global issues.

student works on her laptop in a university classroom

YYGS has three parts: academic classes, a big project, and fun activities. In classes, students learn about various subjects. For the project, they work on a topic they like and use what they’ve learned. The fun activities, like debates and sports, help students relax and make friends from around the world. This program helps students grow in knowledge and as people.

5. World Affairs Youth Seminar at Auburn University

  • Location: Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama.
  • Cost: $890
  • Program Dates: July 7 – July 12, 2024
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Rising 10th – 12th grade students.

The World Affairs Youth Seminar at Auburn University lets students act as delegates in a Model United Nations (MUN) setting to learn about global issues. They prepare for the MUN by researching international conflicts and history with help from Auburn students. Each day, they discuss different world topics in MUN sessions.

Students also get to experience college life at Auburn, staying in dorms and joining in social activities. They are watched over by counselors all the time. There’s also a chance to be part of a research study on how students learn about human rights, but this is optional and doesn’t involve sharing personal info. The study aims to understand how young people learn about world issues.

6. John F Kennedy ’35 Institute in Government at Choate Rosemary Hall

  • Location: Choate Rosemary Hall, Wallingford, Connecticut.
  • Cost: $11,620 ( Residential); $9,325 (Commuter)
  • Program Dates:  June 23- July 26, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 31, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students in grades 8, 9, 10, 11, or 12.

The John F. Kennedy ‘35 Program at Choate Rosemary Hall is for high school students who like learning about government and economics. The program includes reading about John F. Kennedy, classes in politics and economics, and choices to study law or public policy. Students also join group discussions to talk about these subjects.

In the program, students do internships with government officials or organizations to see how these jobs work in real life. Moreover, it is an exceptional platform for students to develop essential skills like communication, leadership, and critical thinking. These skills are not only fundamental for success in government and public service roles but are also highly valued in various other fields. At the end of the program, they give a presentation to share their experiences and what they’ve learned, like a TED talk.

7. The Junior Statesmen Program

  • Location: Occidental College; Simmons University; Stanford University/ Virtual; Northern Marianas College
  • Cost: Gene A. Burd Institute on Media & Politics: $1,895 ($295: virtual); Young Women’s Leadership Institute: $1,895 ($295: virtual); Stern Civics Immersion Program: $5,295 (TBD: virtual); Civics Institute Micronesia: $1,495
  • Program Dates: To be announced
  • Application Deadline: To be announced
  • Eligibility: High school students between 9th–12th grade.

The Junior State of America summer programs help high school students learn about big issues in America through college-like classes and group projects. There are four main programs: the Burd Institute on Media & Politics, the Stern Civics Immersion Program, the Young Women’s Leadership Institute, and the Civics Institute Micronesia.

In the Burd Institute, students learn about media and politics, including journalism. The Stern Civics Immersion Program teaches students how to argue and use evidence to solve problems. The Young Women’s Leadership Institute helps young women understand their leadership abilities and how to use them in their communities. The Civics Institute Micronesia focuses on issues like environmental justice and poverty, encouraging students to find solutions to local problems.

8. Leadership for Social Change at Tufts

  • Location: Tufts Virtual Campus, Tufts University.
  • Cost: $3,800
  • Program Dates: July 28 – August 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: Students entering grades 10-12.

Tufts University’s Leadership for Social Change (LSC) program, one of the politics and leadership programs for high school students in the country, is an online two-week course for high school students. It teaches them how to lead and make a difference in the world. Students will learn about important issues like health, education, and food justice, and how to deal with these challenges.

Teenage mixed race girl high school student distance e learning group online class at home looking at camera.

In the LSC program, students will get to talk to teachers and leaders who are working on these problems. They will join online classes, listen to guest speakers, and have discussions in small groups. This program helps students understand how they can help solve big problems in society. Students can earn pre-matriculation credit, which means they get credit before starting college. The program is graded on a pass/fail basis, so students are evaluated based on their overall participation and performance.

9. Lott Leadership Institute at the University of Mississippi

  • Location: University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi.
  • Cost: 9th grade program: $800; 12th grade program: $900
  • Program Dates: 9th grade program: June 2 – June 14 & July 7 – July 19; 12th grade program: May 26 – June 28 & June 23 – July 26
  • Application Deadline: January 26, 2024
  • Eligibility: Rising 9th and 12th grade students.

The Lott Leadership Institute at The University of Mississippi offers two leadership programs for high school students. The first program is for students about to start 9th grade. It helps them develop leadership and thinking skills. They stay on the Ole Miss campus, learn about leadership, and do community service. The second program is for students going into 12th grade. It prepares them for college and improves their leadership skills. This includes earning college credits, participating in leadership activities, and visiting Washington, D.C.

In both programs, students get guidance from experienced leaders and work on projects that help their communities. Being part of the Lott Leadership Institute means joining a network that can help with getting internships and working with others. These programs help high school students get ready for college and teach them about being leaders and helping others.

10. Washington Workshops Foundation

  • Location: Washington, D.C.
  • Cost: Unspecified
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Application Deadline: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Students entering grades 9-12.

The Washington Workshops Foundation has been offering educational programs to high school students since 1967, focusing on democracy, governance, and civic engagement. The foundation combines classroom learning with practical experiences, helping young people understand democracy and how to participate actively in society. Students attending these workshops get to explore Washington, D.C.’s political scene through interactive workshops and discussions with government officials, policy analysts, and community leaders.

The foundation offers two main programs for high school students: the Congressional Seminar and the International Conflict Resolution Seminar. The Congressional Seminar is a one-week intensive program where students learn about all three branches of government, participate in a Model Congress, and meet with various political figures. The International Conflict Resolution Seminar allows students to learn about global issues, meet conflict resolution experts, and visit important landmarks in Washington, D.C.

11. International Relations Academy at Georgetown

  • Location: Georgetown University, Washington, D.C.
  • Cost: Residential: $3,389; Commuter: $2,625
  • Program Dates: Session 1: June 23- June 29, 2024; Session 2: July 21- July 27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: May 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: High School Students.

The Georgetown International Relations Academy offers a one-week program for high school students interested in international relations and global affairs. Taught by experienced faculty, the program covers a wide range of topics, helping students understand the complexities of world politics, policy, and foreign relations. Students will engage in various activities, including classes, field trips, interactive sessions, and group discussions, to deepen their understanding of global issues.

a group of student having a debate

During the program, students explore different aspects of international relations, such as foreign policy, international law, terrorism, nuclear weapons, environmental issues, and global health. The curriculum is designed to give students a comprehensive view of how countries interact and address global challenges. This experience aims to foster critical thinking and intellectual growth in young individuals interested in the field of international relations.

Final Thoughts

In all, the 11 Pre-College Programs for Politics and Leadership provide an invaluable opportunity for high school students to delve into the realms of governance and leadership before stepping into college. These programs stand out as an excellent foundation for any student aspiring to make an impact in the political sphere or any leadership role. They not only broaden your understanding of global and domestic issues but also equip you with essential skills like critical thinking, public speaking, and effective decision-making.

Participating in these programs can be a transformative experience, shaping your perspective and guiding your future academic and career choices. They offer a unique blend of learning, practical experience, and personal growth, setting you on a path to becoming informed, skilled, and responsible leaders of tomorrow. For students with a keen interest in politics and leadership, the 11 pre-college programs above are undoubtedly a stepping stone to greater achievements and a deeper understanding of the world.



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