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Ohio State University's YSP - Should You Consider It?

If you’re on the cusp of entering high school, chances are you’re already thinking about how to build a strong profile for college. A great way to do this is to participate in a pre-collegiate program. These programs provide a unique opportunity for academic, personal, and career development, giving you a competitive edge in college admissions. If you live in Ohio, you should consider applying to Ohio State University's Young Scholars Program (YSP).

What is the Young Scholars Program all about?

Established in 1988, the YSP is a multifaceted program aimed at fostering the academic success of financially disadvantaged, first-generation students, guiding them towards higher education opportunities. Specifically designed for students from Ohio's nine largest urban public school districts, including Akron, Cleveland, Dayton, and Toledo, YSP recruits prospective Young Scholars from designated urban districts, emphasizing inclusivity and diversity.

Is it prestigious?

The program's fully-funded and rigorous nature definitely makes a prestigious opportunity to apply to. Not only do you get the chance to engage with a popular university's resources for an entire year, but also receive invaluable resources, guidance, and networking opportunities that you can the most out of as a first-generation scholar. This, along with the competitive nature of the application process, makes this a prestigious addition to your resume!

How is YSP structured?

YSP supports over 1,000 students statewide each year, focusing on academic preparation, coaching, mentoring, college planning, leadership development, and social engagement. Scholars benefit from a robust financial aid package from The Ohio State University, comprising federal and state grants, work-study, and the Young Scholars Award. This support is especially vital for Scholars qualifying as low-income, with a priority given to those aiming to become the first in their family to achieve a bachelor's degree.

What are the important dates?

You can become a Young Scholar by applying to the Young Scholars Program (YSP), which accepts applications from prospective 8th-grade students annually. The application period opens on January 1 and closes on March 15. 

What are the eligibility requirements?

To be eligible for YSP, you must meet the following requirements:

  • Reside in one of the nine Ohio districts mentioned above

  • Be enrolled in the eighth grade and entering the ninth grade in the coming academic year

  • Qualify as a first-generation college student

  • Meet the income requirements to qualify for financial aid

Applicants must reside in specified Ohio public school districts, be currently enrolled in eighth Grade and entering ninth Grade, qualify as first-generation college students, meet household income guidelines, and demonstrate a strong desire to enroll in and graduate from a 4-year college or university. Preferred candidates have a GPA of 3.5 or above. 

Families with more than eight persons should add $5,380 for each additional member. 

You can apply for the program through the online application portal. A complete application includes report cards, attendance records, an essay response, proof of income, and a recommendation form. You can also request to apply offline.

What kinds of programs does YSP offer?

Pre-College Young Scholars at YSP cater to students in grades 9-12, delivering year-round college counseling and programs to enhance college preparation and readiness. Collaborating with school district administrators, Ohio State faculty, staff, students, alums, and community partners, YSP Program Coordinators and Managers develop and implement pre-college programs and workshops.

Scholar Ambassadors, undergraduate Young Scholars, connect with pre-college scholars during holidays and breaks. They participate in workshops, school visits, and programs, sharing insights and mentoring pre-college scholars. Scholar Ambassadors also host pre-college scholars during campus visits, playing a crucial role in their introduction to collegiate Life.

Pre-College Student Success is a key focus, featuring Academic Year Programs that provide comprehensive support for high school graduation and the transition to higher education. Campus Day Visits offer one-day experiences during the academic year to familiarize scholars with the Columbus campus and its resources. Additionally, Summer Overnight Programs provide scholars with a residential experience on the Ohio State Columbus campus, introducing them to faculty, staff, administrators, and current YSP scholars. Scholars explore college majors and careers and engage with the Columbus community during these immersive programs.

Some examples of yearly programming include:

1. Monthly Workshops:

   - Program Coordinators (PCs) lead monthly cohort workshops, addressing group discussions, reflections, academic planning, and college readiness. Emphasizing community development, YSP workshops align with the CollegeBoard Eight Dimensions of College and Career Readiness.


2. Pre-College Workshop Themes by Grade Level:

   - 9th Grade: "Becoming a Scholar"

   - 10th Grade: "Wellness, Leadership, and Personal Development"

   - 11th Grade: "(Career and Professional Development) Who am I? Who do I Want to be?"

   - 12th Grade: "(Transitioning from high school to college) Preparing for Change"

3. Scholar One-on-One Meetings:

   - PCs conduct monthly one-on-one meetings with scholars, offering intensive college advising and addressing factors influencing academic success.

4. Scholar Reading Series (SRS):

   - An initiative to uphold expectations of academic excellence, combat summer learning loss, and foster interest in reading, SRS features books for each grade level:

      - 9th Grade: "Don't Ask Me Where I'm From" by Jennifer De Leon

      - 10th Grade: "Mexican Whiteboy" by Matt de la Peña

      - 11th Grade: "American Panda" by Gloria Chao

Campus Day visits include: 

1. New Scholar Orientation (NSO)

NSO welcomes newly admitted scholars and their parents for an on-campus orientation. Participants meet YSP program staff and students and participate in a comprehensive campus tour.

2. Freshman Foundation Program

This program, designed for 9th-grade scholars, facilitates interactions with cohort peers nationwide. Hosted by the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, workshops expose scholars to campus and community initiatives.

3. Leadership Development and Wellness Visit

For 10th-grade scholars, this visit involves workshops on leadership development and social, emotional, academic, and digital wellness.

 4. A Day in the Life of a Scholar

Connecting 11th-grade scholars with YSP undergraduates, this program offers an on-campus student immersion experience.

Participation in Campus One-Day visits requires active involvement in YSP. At the beginning of each academic year, all Young Scholars receive a Calendar of Events containing dates and travel details for each visit.

What are some Pros and Cons of the program?


1. You will become a well-rounded scholar

YSP offers comprehensive support, including academic coaching, mentoring, leadership development, and social engagement, fostering a well-rounded approach to scholars' development.

2. The program offers financial aid

The program provides a robust financial aid package from Ohio State University, alleviating the financial burden for low-income students and creating an inclusive environment for those aiming to be the first in their families to earn a bachelor's degree.

3. The program is quite diverse

 YSP's diverse programming, such as monthly workshops, Scholar Reading Series, and Campus Day Visits, caters to various aspects of scholars' growth, ensuring a holistic and tailored approach to their pre-college experience.


1. It comes with geographic limitations

The program's eligibility is limited to specific Ohio school districts and may exclude academically talented students outside these districts, potentially restricting diversity and broader perspectives.

2. Admissions are quite competitive

The competitive nature of the application process, including GPA requirements and a preference for candidates with a GPA of 3.5 or above, may pose challenges for some students, potentially limiting access to deserving individuals.

3. You must commit to this for a year

One of the program's scholars must actively participate throughout the year to attend Campus One-Day visits, potentially excluding those facing challenges in maintaining continuous involvement due to personal or academic reasons.

Our Review of Ohio State University's YSP- Should you do it?

If you’re a first-generation learner with high grades, YSP could be a great fit for you! The program will shape you into a well-rounded student while you’re in high school. It provides financial aid to encourage students from low-income backgrounds to apply and offers a range of activities [like …] to prepare you for college life. That being said, the program is only open to Ohio students from nine districts and the year-long commitment required could make it difficult to pursue other interests you may have. 

Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you're looking for the opportunity to engage in rigorous research as a high schooler, you could also consider applying to one of the Lumiere Research Scholar Programs, selective online high school programs for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.

Tenzing Dolma is a master's student specializing in research following the Nechung Oracle and the historical, religious, and cognitive approaches to its presence. She has a bachelor's in Neuroscience from Loyola University Chicago and is completing her graduate studies at Columbia University. She hopes to help students find their passions through access to programs and organizations the same way she found hers!

Image Source: OSU logo


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