Preparing for College

National Student Leadership Conference and Ivy Admission

Question: My son, an aspiring doctor, is a sophomore in high school and has been invited to attend the National Student Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., this summer. Will that stand out when he applies to college? He is hoping to attend an Ivy League institution.

Students who have attended the National Student Leadership Conference generally seem to speak highly of their experience, but whether this would truly be a “plus” on your son’s college applications depends to a great extent on where he will be applying. Frankly, the more competitive colleges see many applicants with this program—and other similar ones designed to attract good students—on their records, so it will do little to set him apart. While they will view it as a productive summer activity, it will definitely not move an application from the “out” pile to the “in.”


If you and your son have read and discussed the program’s offerings, and he is excited about going, then certainly don’t discourage him just because it’s not an express route to Harvard or Yale, but perhaps suggest that he pursue a less traveled road next summer—maybe something that reinforces his interest in the medical field (assuming, of course, that it persists) but that won’t turn up as often on application forms.