Extracurricular Activities

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The Truth Behind “Exclusive” Summer Leadership Programs

This spring tens of thousands of high school students will receive news that they have been nominated to attend a “highly selective” or “exclusive” one-week summer program. The program will probably have the word leadership in its name, and the invitation to apply will most likely come with a glossy, impressive-looking certificate. After receiving this unexpected piece of mail, students typically have a few questions. For instance:

What are these programs like?

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How do I Find Merit Scholarships?

Unlike need-based aid, which is based on your family’s finances, merit scholarships are awarded based on your academic or extracurricular performance. The vast majority of this money comes from college themselves. Thus, your best bet for maximizing merit money is applying to colleges where your grades/test scores put you in the top quartile of the applicant pool (i.e. they are higher than at least 75% of admitted students). These are the schools that will likely offer you a significant discount to attend (Even better?

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