National Youth Leadership Forum: Is It Worth It?

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Preparing for college can feel daunting, but several established programs help students find success.

Taking advantage of programs that offer career exploration and leadership opportunities can improve a student’s college readiness. The Envision National Youth Leadership Forum programs provide such options.

What is the National Youth Leadership Forum?

The National Youth Leadership Forum (NYLF) is a series of summer programs through the Envision group that prepare students for college and careers. For more than 30 years,

Envision has worked to help students discover their passions, explore careers, and make a difference in their communities.

Each of the six programs lasts a week or more. Students hear from guest speakers, listen to lectures, take trips, and use tools and resources associated with their career choice. Students who attend NYLF stay in residence halls at prestigious colleges and universities across the country, enabling them to get a taste of campus life.

Is the NYLF Legitimate?

Yes! The programs offered through the NYLF are legit and do help high schoolers prepare for several specific career fields.

Just like other summer college experiences, the programs opens students up to a slice of college life and engage them in coursework in their field of interest.

The NYLF is one of many educational enrichment programs offered to students around the country. The experience gained through these programs shows colleges that students are exploring and developing their interests early.

What programs does the NYLF offer?

There are six programs offered through the NYLF: Engineering, Medicine, Business Innovation, Advanced Medicine and Health Care, National Security, and Law and CSI.

  • Advanced Medicine and Health Care: Held at Johns Hopkins University this 10-day program gives high school students access to one of the country’s most respected medical simulation centers.
  • Business Innovation: With an opportunity to make a pitch Shark Tank-style, students in the business innovation program investigate careers as entrepreneurs and innovators at Yale University for a week.
  • Engineering: Located at one of the top-ranked engineering schools, high school students get to use state-of-the-art technology to solve problems.
  • Law and CSI: Held in our nation’s capital, the Law and CSI program allows future law and crime scene investigators to analyze evidence and present a case.
  • Medicine: This 9-day program offered at universities like Tufts and Emory provides a hands-on medical experience for students exploring careers in health care.
  • National Security: Students with a passion for making the world a safer place can spend 6 days at the University of Maryland with national security experts.

How much does the NYLF cost?

The cost of the NYLF depends on the program, its timeframe, and where it is located. Tuition is either $3,495 or $3,595. This includes room and board, site visits and transportation as part of the program, course materials, and lectures.

To offset the cost, Envision offers a limited number of scholarships, as well as a fundraising option and a payment plan.

How are students chosen for the NYLF?

Students are nominated to attend NYLF programs by teachers or parents. Those who are not nominated but want to attend can choose to nominate themselves.

Envision encourages nominations for students who:

  • Show academic and leadership potential
  • Can fulfill the challenging course requirements
  • Will confidently contribute to program activities and discussions

What makes the NYLF so rewarding?

A nomination for the NYLF shows students that their teachers or parents believe in their potential to expand their education and leadership skills. Benefits of the programs include:

  • Career exploration: Students interested in a career that aligns with one of the NYLF’s six programs can gain valuable, hands-on experience with experts from the field and access to top-of-the-line equipment. Exploring these careers today will provide students with an advantage and a deeper understanding of the field when they start college.
  • College experience: Living and working on a college campus gives students a glimpse of university life. Those who have not had the opportunity to explore college will experience how campus, dining areas, residence halls, recreation, etc., are designed and available to them.
  • College credit: Some colleges accept the NYLF class experience for a pass/fail college credit. This does require payment for the college credit.
  • New relationships: Students enrolled in NYLF programs get to work with their peers who share the same interests and aspirations. Students often leave with new friends at the end of the program. The NYLF also allows students to connect with experts, leaders, and educators in the careers they plan to pursue.

What are some drawbacks of the NYLF?

Like other enrichment programs, the NYLF provides new opportunities for students to explore and grow in their field of interest. But, there are drawbacks to these programs:

  • Short programs: Depending on the program, the NYLF programs last between 6 and 10 days. The experience is immersive, allowing students to live on campus and dive deep into their chosen subject for about a week—but a week might not be enough time to truly gain the knowledge needed to understand the subject.
  • High cost: Of all the summer college experiences offered, this is one of the pricier options. The cost includes what students need to live on campus and participate in the trips and experiences offered for that program, but there are comparable summer programs available for a fraction of the price.
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What kind of students should attend the NYLF?

The NYLF programs are for students who want to explore career options and get a taste of the college experience.

Students who attend the NYLF are well rounded, high achieving, and motivated. They should be prepared and mature enough to excel in the rigorous NYLF programs.

The Envision admissions page details the characteristics of and criteria for students seeking enrollment:

  • Academic achievement: High-achieving high school students should have a 3.0 GPA or higher.
  • Leadership potential: Extracurricular activities in high school and the role a student holds in those activities are considered for enrollment.
  • Career aspiration: Students submit a brief essay explaining why they want to enroll and how they will impact the future with the NYLF experience.
  • Mentor recommendation: A letter of recommendation supports that a student is prepared and qualified for NYLF.

Do I need to go to the NYLF to attend a top college?

No! The NYLF programs, and other summer enrichment courses, are beneficial but are not necessary to make it to a top school.

College admissions counselors consider several areas of a student’s high school career:

  • Performance in high school: Grades are important, but are not everything. If students show that they work hard, are dedicated, work to improve over time, and challenge themselves, they are headed in the right direction. Taking an AP or honors class and persevering through it is more impressive than straight As in basic classes.
  • Extracurricular activities: Colleges and universities want to see that students are involved and take initiative beyond the classroom. Better yet, students who take on leadership roles or use their talents and time to contribute to the community show another level of dedication and service.
  • Enthusiasm: Counselors notice when students show a genuine enthusiasm for attending the college or university to which they are applying. Students should visit campus, ask questions, make connections, follow up, and stay in touch with the counselors and faculty they meet during the admissions process.
  • Good character: This can be hard to measure, but essentially, colleges and universities want to know that students are willing to challenge themselves, take risks, be leaders, show dedication, and take initiative. Volunteering and community involvement also are highly regarded.

What can I do instead of the NYLF?

The purpose of the NYLF is for students to gain experience and exposure to a career path that interests them. This shows colleges that students are thinking ahead, pushing themselves, taking initiative, and engaging in learning.

There are plenty of other ways to gain that experience and exposure to a career. Students who consider their passion, talents, hobbies, and interests will be able to connect those things to a fulfilling and rewarding career choice.

To learn more about the career and make connections within the profession, consider:

  • Paid or unpaid high school internships: Internships in high school are much more common than in years past. Take the opportunity to research what you are passionate about, and find an internship that matches your interest. Get as involved in the job as you can, ask questions, take company tours, meet the company big wigs, and journal your experience.
  • Volunteering: How can you connect to a field or career through a volunteer position? Giving your time and talent to your community or cause, while also gaining valuable experience in the field, will look fantastic on a resume.
  • Job shadowing: Typically, this is a day-in-the-life type of experience, which is shorter but can be more immersive than an internship. Dress professionally, jot down questions you want to ask, follow up with those you meet to start relationships that can help you later, and write a paper to remind yourself of what you liked, didn’t like, who you met, or what you wanted to learn more about.
  • Blogging: If you’re passionate about something and you can write (or want to practice and improve your writing) consider blogging! Starting a blog that is focused and well researched is a great way to learn more about what you love and show skills like writing, research, organization, and communication.
  • Entry-level jobs: Want to be an engineer? Get a summer job on the maintenance crew at an amusement park. Think of ways that you might be able to break into your passion or career of choice through an entry-level position. Many professionals start small and work their way through the ranks as they continue their education. Even if the job is not directly related to the position you want, if it is with the right company you can make connections and start relationships that can help in the future.

Conclusion: National Youth Leadership Forum

The bottom line is, students who illustrate that they are going the extra mile to get involved, grow, learn, and connect with professionals will succeed.

Whether this is a summer enrichment program, an internship, or a volunteer position depends on what fits the student and his or her interests best.

Colleges and universities will recognize the effort made and the experience gained. The NYLF is legit, but you don’t need it to attend the college of your dreams.

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