High School Leaders Program Application

We are currently accepting applications for the 2020 High School Leaders Program.  Applications for the 2020 HSLP are due by midnight on Tuesday, November 12th 2019.

2020 Application Instructions

PLEASE NOTE: This is an online application. There is no way to save a partially completed application and return to work on it later. For this reason, we recommend that you prepare everything you will need to complete the application in advance.

1.  After you have read the instructions, questions, and have prepared everything you will need to complete the application, follow the link at the bottom of this page. That link will take you directly to the online application for the High School Leaders Program Class of 2019. Again, please remember to prepare everything you will need prior to filling out the online application. There is no way to save your work and return to it later.

2.  In addition to completing the online application in its entirety, please send:

  • a copy of your school transcript (official or unofficial are accepted)
  • a resume or activity sheet
  • at least one letter (but no more than two letters) of recommendation

Supplementary materials that are mailed must be postmarked by Friday, November 15, 2019.  Supplementary materials that are emailed must be received by Friday, November 15, 2019.

Supplementary materials may be sent two ways.  They may be mailed to: The Sorensen Institute, Attn: HSLP 2020, P.O. Box 400206, Charlottesville, VA 22904-4206.  Or they may be emailed to Sarah Campbell at sc9ef@virginia.edu with a subject line of "High School Leaders Program Application Materials for (your name)".

Your application is not complete until we have received these three documents. 

The HSLP online application includes a series of short-answer questions in addition to a 300-word essay. You will also be asked to provide some basic contact and background information. See below for details. You will be able to copy/paste your answers into the online application.


Short-Answer Questions

The HSLP online application includes a number of short-answer questions. Be aware that your answers are a significant part of the selection process and very important to making admissions decisions. Please answer each question fully. The short-answer questions on the High School Leaders Program online application are as follows:

  • Why are you interested in attending the High School Leaders Program?
  • Why are you interested in government, politics and public policy in Virginia?
  • Please list any major commitments or events that might conflict with the program dates.
  • Is there anything else you would like us to know or take into consideration that has not been included on this application form?
  • How did you learn about the High School Leaders Program?


Please write a (NO MORE THAN) 300 word essay on ONE of the following two topics:

A. Describe the accomplishment you are most proud of and why. Feel free to address the following questions: What obstacles did you need to overcome to achieve your goal? What did you learn from your experience? What would you have done differently if you had the chance to do it again? How has this affected your goals for the future? How would you be different if you had not had this experience?

B. Briefly outline a public policy issue that you care about and suggest a solution. Address why this issue is important to you. Give the three strongest reasons for your solution, and give the three strongest arguments against the solution you have proposed. What would you say to convince someone who was opposed to your solution that is is the correct path to take?

Contact/Background Information

You should also be prepared with the following information to successfully complete the HSLP application:

  • Name
  • Email address
  • Cell phone number (if applicable)
  • Home address and phone number
  • Year in school
  • Name of high school and its location (city, state)

2020 Interviews

Some applicants will be selected for a personal interview as the next part of the application process. 

In the weeks following the deadline for applications, students will be contacted to let them know whether or not they will receive an interview.  Those who are offered an interview will be given an appointment for an interview in their region that will take place in late January or early February.  There is only one interview date in each region.  If you are unable to make your interview time, a make-up date to interview in Charlottesville will be available. You will be contacted via the email address you provide in your application if you are selected for an interview.  Please make sure the email address you provide is typed correctly, and is one you check regularly.

2020 Attendance

Attendance during the program for all activities by all participants is very important to the success of the program. A sample schedule can be seen here.  Full participation is expected, there are no "free" days during the HSLP.  If you cannot commit to participating in the entire program, you should wait and reapply in a future year.

Tuition and Financial Assistance

Tuition for the 2020 HSLP is $2,800. Tuition includes three University of Virginia college credits.  Participants can apply for financial aid. Requests for financial aid will be reviewed by representatives of our parent organization, The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, after applicants have been accepted to the program. 

In 2019, we met 100% of demonstrated financial need through a combination of grants, scholarships, and financial aid. No individual has ever been denied participation in a Sorensen program because of inability to pay the tuition cost. Participants are responsible for their own travel expenses, but unless otherwise stated all food and lodging costs are covered by the tuition. More information about how to apply for financial aid is available on our Financial Aid page. Financial aid applications must be submitted by Saturday, December 1st to be considered. 

Click Here to start your application

Please remember, once you start the application there will be no way to save partial work, so make sure you have everything you need to complete the application.

If you have any questions about the High School Leaders Program, contact Sarah Campbell.