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Trent Lott Summer Leadership Institute Prepares High School Seniors for College

"The Lott Experience" – Lott Institute High School Leadership Program from Ole Miss on Vimeo.

The Trent Lott Summer Leadership Institute has been providing upcoming high school seniors the opportunity to be a full-time college student since 2000.

The institute, which is a partnership between the Mississippi’s Lott Leadership institute and the Division of Outreach’s Summer College for High School Students, hopes to prepare students for college by having them in a structured academic environment.

The students are selected by their merits as high school students going into their fall semester of their junior year.

Joann Edwards, a professor within the program, said that they use a database that the Division of Outreach has and that applications go out all over the country.

“We typically have anywhere from 800 to 1100 nominations throughout the country. They are sent nomination packets, and the students fill out those packets,” Edwards said. “We usually get somewhere between 250 to 350 actual applicants and from that we choose 50.”

The program is broken down into two summer sessions, from May 30 to July 2 and from July 6 to July 30.

When they get to the University of Mississippi, they are enrolled in a political science class and a public speaking class. The courses count the same as any college credit, and the courses were chosen because they can be transferred to any other university in the country, whereas some other courses may not.

“It’s designed to put them in an intense college experience, where it’s like a crucible for leadership,” Edwards said. “ They are expected to perform as college students in an abbreviated time frame.”

Washington, D.C. Trip – Lott Institute High School Leadership Program from Ole Miss on Vimeo.

The students are in the classes all morning, and after lunch, they’re free to do homework and assignments.

The students are also allotted a week to travel to Washington D.C. to visit the Capitol and to meet with political, corporate, and non-profit leaders.

“The real value comes from with the meetings that they have with the leadership of Google, the leadership of the museum, congressional delegations that are up there from their various states,” Edwards said.

In the first summer session, the institute had representatives from various states including some students from Mexico. The second session features students from six different states: Missouri, North Carolina, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisiana and Georgia.

The students, because they’re under 18, have special provisions that they must follow. They’re not allowed to drive their vehicles once they arrive on the campus.

“We have to observe the rules and regulations set forth by the university for minor on campus,” Edwards said. “For all practical purposes, they are in our care.”

Campus Living – Lott Institute High School Leadership Program from Ole Miss on Vimeo.

Edwards said that other than some minor details, that by all practical purposes they are students at the university. The students in the program have ID cards, access to the health center and library and all other accesses that students at the university have.

There is a strong connection between the students who go through the program and them spending their college years at Ole Miss. As of two summers ago, the last time Ole Miss took a retention rate, 38 percent of the students that attended the program enrolled at Ole Miss.

“The reason we have such a high retention rate is that it’s a leadership experience,” Edwards said. “It’s not a leadership conference where there are 200 to 300 people. It’s a small group of people maneuvering big questions in a time in their lives where those leadership skills kick into action.”

Collin Brister is a staff writer for HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at collin.brister@hottytoddy.com.

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