Jan 302013

Have you received an official looking envelope in the mail recently congratulating you on being nominated to “Represent your high school at the National Youth Student Leadership America Conference”?

Is this real?  Is this a scam?  Who else got this? Read on.

Beginning as early as freshman year you may receive many solicitations for progams such as LeadAmerica, NYLF (National Youth Leadership Forum), and NSLC (National Student Leadership Conference).  The wording usually makes it seem like you were carefully selected from a wide field of candidates for this honor.  Often times, this is confusing to parents and students because they never applied or asked to be nominated!


Here are some things everyone should know about these programs:


  • All of these for-profit companies run summer programs on college campuses across the country that are approximately 10 days long
  • The average cost is around $3000 depending on program and location
  • The programs are highly structured and most of them do a good job at making their schedules transparent by posting day-by-day itineraries on their websites
  • Students usually greatly enjoy these programs
  • Most frequent complaint, if there are any, is that they are sometimes not challenging enough for upperclassmen students, or students with advanced course study in the area of the conference
  • All of these companies run similar marketing schemes—they make their programs look selective (they are not, most anyone can sign up) and ask high school teachers and counselors for “nominations”.  By giving nominations, teachers and counselors are unknowingly releasing student information to a for-profit company for marketing purposes.  They also make it look like an honor when a student is “nominated” so the student often feels special.


Overall take-home message: Essentially, these programs are actually very high quality, but their marketing can be deceptive.