The Program

The Young Owls Leadership Program (YOLP) is a student-created and student-run outreach initiative for high school students from the Houston area.  YOLP began in 2012 and is now approaching its ninth program.

This past summer’s session (2019) was an outstanding success!  60 rising sophomores came to Rice from Houston ISD high schools including Chavez, Davis, Eastwood, Furr, Austin, Reagan, Sharpstown, Washington, Young Women’s College Prep, and Young Men’s College Prep. Students spent a week living on the Rice campus, learning about the college application process, and developing leadership skills.

YOLP focuses on preparing students from underserved communities in the Houston area, especially first-generation college students, to become competitive college applicants.  We do so by designing our curriculum and programs around the college application process, college life, and leadership and personal development.  Specifically, the program includes workshops on financial aid, the college admission essay, admission into highly selective universities, public speaking, etiquette, team-building exercises, STEM fields, the academic opportunities in college, career paths, and more.  To further accentuate college life, students stay overnight in campus dorms, have a roommate, eat at campus dining halls and attend workshops in campus classrooms.  Students also meet and hear from Rice professors and faculty as guest speakers and instructors in mock classes.

The organization of our program is heavily based on Rice University’s Orientation Week, a required program that settles students into college the week before classes begin.  Through this model, high school students are assigned to small groups (“nests”) of 10 students, allowing them to meet students from different high schools and backgrounds.  Each of these groups is assigned three university student Advisors, who are with their groups of high school students at all times.  Advisors come from a variety of academic fields, backgrounds, hometowns and universities and colleges.  This model allows our high school students to get to know and trust multiple college students on a personal level.  Advisors are selected on their ability to serve as strong mentors to our high school students both during the program and afterwards as a resource available to the students throughout the school year.

Students and Advisors meet multiple times during the school year to reunite and check on their progress in the college application process.  Feel free to email us at with any questions regarding the program.

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