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Guide to National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC)

Guide to National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC)

The National Student Leadership Conference is a valuable opportunity for students to learn more about leadership while receiving hands-on training and networking opportunities with experts in various fields. Let’s delve deeper into what this high school program is about, and how students can make the most out of this program!
1. What is the National Student Leadership Conference?

The National Student Leadership Conference is an immersive pre-college program for middle and high school students. This career-focused summer program invites students to explore a career concentration, study in a university environment, and learn life skills through the leadership curriculum to ensure they are well-prepared for life after college.

NSLC offers students a unique glimpse into desired career paths, allowing students to understand the daily demands and responsibilities of professionals in fields ranging from medicine to engineering. With a diverse student body representing over 70 countries, NSLC fosters an environment of global collaboration and cultural exchange. Through immersive, fast-paced, and interactive programs, participants engage in simulations, exclusive site visits, and interactive sessions with industry leaders, gaining invaluable insights into their prospective careers.

Is the National Student Leadership Conference Legitimate?

The legitimacy of the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) is a common question among parents and students when searching for summer programs. Founded in 1989, the organization has partnered with esteemed academic institutions like Harvard University, Yale University, and Stanford University to provide a university-like environment for students who participate in the program. Throughout the years, the organization has grown, now offering 33 interactive programs for students from 110 countries in 153 locations throughout the United States. As such, the NSLC is a legitimate and unique way for students to prepare for college and gain insight into their future careers.

Who can join the NSLC?

All students who are in grades 6 to 12, and demonstrate academic excellence and leadership abilities are welcome to apply for this summer program. 

For high school programs, applicants must be between the ages of 14 to 18, grades 9 to 12, and have completed at least one year of high school.

For middle school programs, students must be at least 11 years of age and currently enrolled in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade.

2. What programs do NSLC offer?

Program offerings include over 30 different fields to focus in. NSLC is an ideal place to see if your career of interest is the right path for you. At the high school level, NSLC offers 39 programs in five main categories:

  • Medicine & Biological Sciences
  • Business & Leadership
  • Government & Law
  • Engineering & Computer Science
  • Design, Art & Media

Where is the NSLC?

NSLC program is offered in 13 university locations throughout the United States. The summer programs offered for high school students are held at top-ranking, elite universities in the U.S. and Canada: American University, Columbia University, Duke University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, Northwestern University, University of British Columbia, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles, University of Miami, University of Michigan, Virginia Tech, and Yale University.

The summer program offered for middle school students is held at: American University and University of California, Berkeley

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3. Is the NSLC Worth It?

NSCL is definitely a prestigious program, filled with meaningful activities to enrich student knowledge and expose them to different aspects of life within only 1-2 weeks. By enrolling in NSLC, students will engage in hands-on activities, workshops, and simulations led by industry professionals and academics. For example, by participating in the Cybersecurity program, students will have the opportunity to visit Google, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and other sites to experience what it is like working in the field full-time. By visiting the sites in person, students may find out more about majors they have never heard of, but that align more closely with their interests.

In addition, attending NSLC allows you to connect with like-minded peers from diverse backgrounds and experts from your field of interest. One of the activities students participate in is networking with professionals working in the field. Students will have the opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A such as “How did you launch your career in this field?”; “What advice would you give to college students looking to enter your field?”; “What are some of the pros and cons of your industry?”; “What major should I choose to best prepare for a career in my particular interest?”

Some other popular activities that students will participate in are: seminars, workshops, classes, lectures, guest speakers, and field trips.

4. Does the National Student Leadership Conference look good on a college application?

Having the National Student Leadership Conference experience can be beneficial on your college application. If your intended major aligns with the NSLC field of choice, expressing that in your application shows your commitment and passion in that field. NSLC, compared to other summer high school programs, is a unique experience for students to experience university, their field of interest and develop leadership skills, hence giving students who have it on their college applications a distinct advantage.

Additionally, NSLC offers unique opportunities for personal and intellectual growth. By meeting and building relationships with like-minded individuals, you can gain perspectives and develop meaningful connections, which can add depth and authenticity when you are filling out your application and writing supplemental essays.

By participating in the NSLC, you can definitely record the experiences on your resume and as part of your application to highlight specific skills, achievements, and insights gained.

5. Is the NSLC Hard to Get Into?

National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) is not considered highly selective to get into compared to some other highly selective summer programs or competitive academic institutions. Interested students who want to apply for the program have multiple paths to selection: nominations by teachers, counselors, and NSLC alumni, as well as through national talent identification surveys like the College Board Student Search Service and the ACT EOS. This selection process provides flexibility for interested students to be considered. More importantly, the program allows for self-nomination, meaning that students don’t have to wait to be nominated; they can take the initiative to apply on their own merit. 

6. What is the NSLC Acceptance Rate?

There is no specific acceptance rate mentioned for the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC), but students are accepted on a rolling basis. This means NSLC doesn’t look to accept the best of the best, but rather just applicants who fulfill the minimum requirements. It’s reasonably assumed that if you have a B average in high school and can afford the program, you’ll have a good chance of getting accepted. Spots typically fill up by late March, so make sure you apply earlier rather than later if you decide NSLC is right for you.

7. When is the NSLC?

The dates of NSLC vary from June to August; each program can last anywhere from 7 to 18 days. The programs are currently hosted in 13 universities:

  • American University
  • Columbia University
  • Duke University
  • Georgetown University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Northwestern University
  • University of British Columbia
  • University of California, Berkeley
  • University of California, Los Angeles
  • University of Miami
  • University of Michigan
  • Virginia Tech
  • Yale University
8. How to apply for the NSLC?

To apply for the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC), students must be in grade 6-12 and be currently enrolled in a middle or high school. To apply, students can either be nominated by someone or apply on your behalf, but you need to fill out a short application form choosing the specific NSLC program and the date you want to attend. Applications are reviewed on a rolling basis. Please note that NSLC looks for students who demonstrate academic excellence and leadership ability. Make sure your application showcases these qualities effectively.

9. Why you should apply for the NSLC?

Considering the opportunities available through the National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC), there are some notable pros to applying for this program:

Build leadership skills: NSLC offers a structured environment where participants can engage in activities designed to enhance their leadership abilities, such as workshops, seminars, and hands-on projects, etc. 

Learn from industry leaders: One of the unique aspects of NSLC is the opportunity to learn directly from accomplished professionals and industry leaders. Past guest speakers have included prominent figures like Secretary Michael B. Donley of the US Air Force, as well as leaders from NASA, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists, and more. 

Experience independence: Attending NSLC allows students to get a taste of college life by living away from home and experiencing independence in a supportive environment. This experience can help participants transition smoothly into the college environment when the time comes.

Earn college credit: For those attending the American University program, NSLC offers the opportunity to earn college credit. While this may not be the case for all programs, gaining college credit for participation can be a significant benefit, potentially accelerating progress towards a future college degree.

Unique experiential learning opportunities: NSLC organizes field trips and visits to prestigious institutions relevant to each program’s focus. For instance, participants in the NSLC Biotech program may visit institutions such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), providing first-hand exposure to real-world applications of their studies.

Scholarship opportunities: NSLC offers various scholarship opportunities, including scholarships for college funds and grants for launching community service leadership projects. These scholarships can alleviate the financial burden and empower students to pursue their academic and leadership goals.

Letter of Recommendation: NSLC instructors can provide students with letters of recommendation for college applications. While it’s essential to consider the depth of relationship with instructors, this opportunity can still be valuable for showcasing involvement in a prestigious program and highlighting personal growth and leadership skills.

Overall, the NSLC offers a unique and enriching experience that can not only bolster academic credentials, but also fosters personal growth and leadership development in a dynamic and supportive environment.

The National Student Leadership Conference (NSLC) presents a wealth of opportunities for personal growth, career exploration, and networking. However, it’s important to note that while NSLC participation can be beneficial, it may not carry the same weight as top-tier extracurricular activities in college admissions. Nonetheless, NSLC remains a worthwhile option for individuals seeking personal growth, making connections, and exploring interests.

Aralia Programs

For those seeking an alternative option, Aralia provides a comprehensive and immersive learning experience, focusing on academic excellence, real-world application, and personalized mentorship. With Aralia, participants not only gain valuable skills and knowledge but also receive recognition that can significantly enhance college applications and future opportunities. Check out our College Accelerator Program to learn more!


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