BE A SCHOLAR

Change your life trajectory by becoming a LINK Scholar.

What does it mean to be a LINK Scholar?

Our Scholars complete a four-year fellowship that is advanced through one-on-one mentoring. Our programming elements include Academic Enrichment, Leadership Development, Career Exposure, and College Access. In addition to the following Eligibility Requirements, see the Application Timeline and Scholar Application FAQs for our Scholar standards.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Student must be a high-potential Black 8th grade student with a demonstrated financial need. For more clarity on how financial need is determined, see the FAQs below.
  • Student must reside in the Chicagoland area and plan to attend a LINK Unlimited Scholars partner school or other CPS Selective Enrollment High School.
  • Competitive candidates are confident communicators who are highly motivated, focused, and involved in school and community; desire mentoring; and are college-bound. We seek candidates with strong academic records.

LINK Unlimited is a college prep and career readiness fellowship that requires students and parents to exhibit commitment, responsibility, and a willingness to actively participate in the organizational programming. Attendance is critically important.

Take the first step in the LINK Scholar journey.

If you’re interested in becoming a LINK Scholar, carefully read about our admissions process and expectations. We also encourage you to attend one of our information sessions (see Events for dates) or email our admissions team at BeAScholar@linkunlimited.org.

Interested in our Junior LINK for middle-school students?

APPLICATIONS FOR THE CLASS OF 2026 ARE NOW OPEN.

Application Timeline for the Class of 2026

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  • PHASE 1 APPLY ONLINE

    October–December

    Students and their families apply to LINK Unlimited Scholars in the fall of 8th grade year. The application will launch here on October 1, 2021, for the Class of 2025. The entire application, including recommendations, must be completed online. Students and families may attend one of two virtual information sessions: September 29 or October 26.

    RSVP: VIRTUAL INFO SESSION

    Please note: Three letters of recommendation are required for your application, from the applicant’s 7th grade English Language Arts Teacher, 7th grade Math Teacher, and School Administrator. Applicants will submit the name and email address of each recommender in the application. Each recommender will receive an email from LINK Unlimited with the form for them to complete and submit the letter online.

  • PHASE 2 APPLICATION REVIEW

    December–January

    Applications are reviewed by the LINK Unlimited Scholars team throughout December to determine which applicants will move forward to the interview phase. Virtual interview invitations are extended to families via email in early January.

  • PHASE 3 INTERVIEW

    February

    Virtual interviews will take place throughout January. Interviews are by invitation only.

  • PHASE 4 STATUS NOTIFICATION

    February

    Acceptance letters will be sent via email and U.S. Mail on February 14, 2021. Applicants will have until the end of February to provisionally accept or decline the invitation to join the LINK Unlimited Scholars Class of 2025.

  • PHASE 5 ORIENTATION PROCESS

    March-April

    Final program enrollment will be granted when the following criteria have been met:

    • A signed LINK Scholar-Family Agreement has been submitted
    • Acceptance and enrollment at a LINK high school partner is confirmed
    • Attend the mandatory New Scholar-Family Orientation in mid-April
    • Successful completion of the mandatory six-week Summer Learning Program during the summer of 2021

Scholar Application FAQs

Any Black 8th grade student with high potential and demonstrated financial need is eligible to apply to LINK Unlimited Scholars. Competitive candidates are confident communicators who are highly motivated, focused, involved in school and community, desire mentorship, and college-bound. We seek candidates with strong academic records and good moral character.

Students who are already in high school are not eligible to apply to the LINK Unlimited Scholars program.

While we will evaluate students’ end of 7th grade report card and standardized test scores (NWEA/MAP), we know that academic potential can be measured in many other ways. For this reason, we look closely at the recommendation letters from each applicant’s 7th grade English/language arts and mathematics teachers. Those recommendations will give us a sense of the applicant’s study habits, work ethic, academic discipline, motivation, and drive.

Yes, we encourage students with IEP and/or 504 Plans to apply to LINK.

Each family’s ability to contribute toward the educational cost of the student will be evaluated by LINK staff. If selected for an interview, applicants must provide verification of income and assets. Generally, scholarships have been awarded to students from families with 80% or less of Chicago Area Median Income (AMI). See the guidelines below.

Yes, each application must include financial information, regardless of the type of high school your student plans to attend. Even though not all LINK Scholars receive a financial scholarship, LINK seeks to service a specific subset of students: high-potential Black students with demonstrated financial need.

The LINK scholarship only applies to our Partnering High Schools.

In addition to our parents, LINK mentors are an integral part of the success we have here at LINK. It is expected that each family applying is interested and committed to ALL aspects of our programming including having a mentor for your child. The mentor relationship is viewed equally with our Scholars’ academics performance and full participation in our programs. Parents play a crucial role in the growth of the mentor/Scholar bond.

Visit each school’s website or call them directly to learn more about the school’s application process. LINK cannot guarantee a student’s acceptance into one of our partner schools, nor can we help students get into a school after their deadline.

Eighth grade students begin the application process for our four-year fellowship in the fall. Applications are typically due mid-November. Contact our Programs teams for the upcoming deadline.

No, you do not have to attend an info session to be eligible to apply; however, it is strongly encouraged.

Beyond the requirements listed under “Program Expectations” on the Become A Scholar page:

  • Scholars and families are required to check email frequently and reply in a timely manner (48 business hours) to all communication, unless a different deadline is specified.
  • Scholars and families are required to attend all mandatory programming, including but not limited to: annual orientation meetings, college counseling sessions, Saturday Academy, and Summer Learning.
  • Scholars are expected to maintain regular communication with their mentors.

Together we can change the life trajectory of our Scholars.

LINK Unlimited Scholars, 2221 South State Street, Chicago, IL 60616-3894 • 312-225-5465 • info@linkunlimited.org