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USC Bovard Scholars - 8 Solid Reasons to Apply

For many ambitious high school students, getting into a prestigious college is a necessary step to pursuing your career path. However, knowing which college to apply to, how to tailor your application to a particular program, preparing for competitive exams, and searching for scholarships can be daunting, especially if you’re a first-generation learner from your family and/or come from a historically marginalized community.


Enter the University of California’s Bovard Scholars Program, a year-long program for high school students with financial need that mentors and guides young learners toward courses and colleges best suited for them, helps them improve their test scores, and suggests scholarships they are more likely to be awarded.


What is the USC Bovard Scholars Program all about?

The Bovard Scholars program was founded to help level the playing field for high school students applying to college. In the U.S.’s top universities, 72% of students come from the top socioeconomic quartile while only 3% come from the bottom. Bovard believes that some of the brightest students from underprivileged communities do not even attempt to apply to top universities, fearing the high tuition fees and their inability to access funding. 


Thus Bovard caters to high school junior students with demonstrable financial need and helps them gain admission to the country’s top universities. 84% of Bovard scholars are first-generation learners, and 80% have gone on to study in one of the U.S.’ top 30 colleges.


What do I receive as a Bovard Scholar?

As a Bovard Scholar, you get year-long, intensive support to guide you in completing your college application and gaining admission to a top university. This includes determining which college you are best suited to, highlighting your strengths, and helping you understand what admission committees really look for in a personal essay and other questions part of an application. 


Bovard also helps you search for and secure scholarships, learn test-taking strategies to boost your scores, and understand what resources are available on campus to ensure you succeed in college. Additionally, Bovard helps you decide on a career path and connects you with leaders and experts in your field of interest. 


The Bovard Scholar program also includes a fully paid, three-week summer residency on the USC campus to help prepare you for college. Here, you are assigned a coach who gives you personal support through the college application, including the essay writing component. Additionally, USC organizes a variety of sessions for you to attend, including:


  • Workplace visits that align with your career goals. Here, you can visit aerospace companies, Hollywood production studios, hospitals, tech giants, and more to understand the day-to-day of your chosen profession 

  • Dinners with industry experts

  • Essay writing workshops

  • SAT/ACT test preparation classes and practice exams

  • How to search for scholarships   


You also get to interact with past Bovard Scholars and current USC students. The admissions coach assigned to you during the residency will be available throughout the year to guide you on your college application.


Who can apply for the program?

To apply for the Bovard Scholars program, you must demonstrate financial need. Additionally, you should meet the following criteria: 


  • Be enrolled in a U.S. high school

  • Be a high school junior at the time of application

  • Have a minimum weighted GPA of 4.0

  • Be enrolled in Algebra II, trigonometry, or above

  • Have opted for Advanced Placement/International Baccalaureate courses, if offered to you


To apply, your high school guidance counselor must complete the Counselor Evaluation Form, where they comment on your academic performance, send your transcripts, and attach an optional recommendation letter to accompany your application for the program. 


What are some important dates I should keep in mind?

The deadline to submit your application for the 2024 cohort is January 12, 2024. Successful candidates will be notified in March. The summer residency will run from July 15 to August 3. Your admissions coach will work with you during your senior year, through the fall of 2024 and spring of 2025 to complete and send your college and financial aid applications.


How much does the program cost?

Nothing! The USC Bovard Scholars program is completely free.


Is the program prestigious?

Bovard Scholars is highly prestigious and competitive. It is fully paid and accepts only 120 applicants every year. Additionally, the GPA requirements for the program indicate that it only accepts straight-A students.


Here are 8 reasons why we think you should apply:


  1. You will receive help to ace your college application The Bovard Scholars program is dedicated to helping students from underprivileged backgrounds fulfill their potential by getting into the country’s top colleges. 80% of Bovard scholars are accepted in the country’s top 30 universities.

  2. You get to join a prestigious program The Bovard Scholars program is highly competitive and prestigious — being selected would definitely mark you out as one of the brightest high school students in the country!

  3. You get personalized academic coaching During the summer residency, a hands-on admissions coach is assigned to you who helps you select colleges to apply for, complete your college application, review your personal essay, and find scholarships that match your profile. 

  4. You receive training to ace competitive exams The summer residency includes dedicated sessions to help you improve your test scores, and you also receive guidance from your admissions coach throughout the year.

  5. The program is fully-funded The year-long program includes a three-week summer residency and is completely free!

  6. You can meet with industry leaders of a career path you are interested in During the summer residency, USC organizes a dinner with industry guests, giving you a unique opportunity to pick their brains. Additionally, you can even visit companies that align with your professional goals.

  7. You become a part of a network of Bovard Scholar alumni Bovard Scholars represent some of the brightest students in the country. Previous scholars have gone on to study at Harvard, Columbia, UCLA, University of Chicago, and other top colleges.

  8. You have a higher chance of being accepted if you come from an underrepresented community USC, through the Bovard program, is committed to helping underrepresented communities. Nearly half of all Bovard scholars are Hispanic (47.5%), almost a quarter are Asian (23%), 18.6% are African American, and 0.3% are Native American.

USC, through the Bovard program, is committed to helping underrepresented communities. Nearly half of all Bovard scholars are Hispanic (47.5%), almost a quarter are Asian (23%), 18.6% are African American, and 0.3% are Native American.


Our review — what do we think of the program?

We believe the Bovard Scholars program is unique because it not only offers a short-term summer residency to help you prepare for university but also gives you year-long support. Applying to university can be a time-consuming and daunting task, and having a dedicated admissions coach to help you sift through colleges to apply to, review your application, and find relevant scholarships is an extremely useful resource. Moreover, Bovard is highly selective; having it as part of your application will definitely mark you out as a bright and ambitious high school student!



Bonus — the Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you are interested in doing university-level research in STEM or other subjects, then you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, over 4000 students applied for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.


Kieran Lobo is a freelance writer from India, who currently teaches English in Spain.


Image Source: USC Bovard Scholars logo


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