Frequently Asked Questions

Main Content

Important Dates

International Locations

February 1
Application deadline 

February 15
Acceptance notifications 

March 1
Student contract and $500 non-refundable deposit due

March 10
Waitlisted students notified if space is available

U.S. Locations

March 1
Application deadline 

March 15
Acceptance notifications 

April 1
Student contract and $500 non-refundable deposit due

April 5
Waitlisted students notified if space is available

FAQs for the Entire Program

Information about Rising Scholars


Approximately 40-60 high school students are admitted per session for the on-campus experience. International trips are designed for 16-22 students per trip.


Rising Scholars is led by ACU faculty, staff and current students.

Students need a laptop or Chromebook to complete assignments. Students will need to provide their own computer for destination experiences. For on campus sessions, students can bring their own laptop or use the computers in the library.

Program Details by Experience

Application Requirements

  • Submit the online application.
  • Students must be a current high school freshman, sophomore or junior.
  • Submit a letter of recommendation completed by a current high school teacher or administrator.
  • The application and recommendation letter must be submitted by January 15, 2023, to be considered. 
  • Due to demand, we cannot accept late applications.

Students will be notified on February 1, 2023, if they are accepted into the Rising Scholars Program.

The cost for Rising Scholars on Campus is $1,000 per student per session. Cost includes course fees for one course per session, lodging, all meals, group excursions and activities. Students are responsible for textbooks, additional snacks/meals and extra activities.

  • The cost for international programs is $3,000 and covers course fees, airfare, lodging, excursions, daily breakfast, a few group meals and travel medical insurance. Students are responsible for other meals/snacks, souvenirs and extra excursions. Limited scholarships available based on application. 
  • Accepted students can choose to pay their balance in full or set up a payment plan to cover the cost of the trip. Payments made to ACU will be non-refundable after May 15. 
  • Final balance due by June 1 for all international trips.

The cost for ACU at Wilderness Trek is $1,200 and covers course fees, all meals, lodging, activities and backpacking/hiking equipment. Students are responsible for souvenirs and extra snacks. Limited scholarships are available based on application.

On-Campus Experience

Approximately 40-60 high school students are admitted per session.

Current high school freshmen, sophomores and juniors are invited to apply. 

Rising Scholars on Campus stay in Bullock Hall, ACU’s newest residence hall. Men and women are housed separately in the dorm.

Students check into their dorm on Sunday evening and check out Saturday morning. During the week, classes meet daily from 9 a.m. to noon.* Most afternoons offer freetime for students to explore Abilene or enjoy ACU’s campus. Evenings consist of organized group activities both on and off campus. A final schedule will be available closer to the sessions. 


*Students in the NEXT Lab course have a lecture in the morning and work in the lab in the afternoon.

Yes. Students can bring their car and get a temporary parking pass. Students will have free time to leave campus during the week if they choose. 

Yes! Curfew will be enforced in the hall by Residence Life staff. 

Students can bring bedding of their choice with them or request to borrow bedding from ACU.

Abilene has a local airport. Students coming from out of state can make arrangements to be picked up/dropped off at the Abilene airport. 

International Experiences

Yes, a valid U.S. passport is required. If you already have a passport, it must be valid through December 2023.

If you do not have a current U.S. passport, we recommend you begin your passport application as soon as possible. To apply, download the application form from travel.state.gov. You must create an appointment to submit your application in person at a local post office, county courthouse or some public libraries. There are items (ID, birth certificate, photo, etc.) you must bring with you, or it will be sent back for you to do again. It can take up to six months to receive your passport. ACU needs a copy of it by June 1.

Students are required to attend virtual meetings with ACU to onboard prior to travel. Additionally, students have required common reading assigned before the trip.

  • London/Paris: Students, faculty and staff will stay in world-class hotels in England and France. Each student will be assigned a room with one roommate. Parents will be informed of all accommodation details prior to departure.
  • Oxford and London: Students, faculty and staff will stay in world-class hotels in England. Each student will be assigned a room with one roommate. Parents will be informed of all accommodation details prior to departure.
  • Leipzig: Students, faculty and staff will be staying in the ACU campus villa while in Leipzig and world-class hotels while in Berlin and Nuremberg. Each student will be assigned a room with one roommate. Parents will be informed of all accommodation details prior to departure.

For ease of travel to Europe, all students are required to pack in a carry-on suitcase. Students can choose to check a bag on the return flight home. They can also bring one personal item.

ACU faculty and staff are with the student group throughout the entire trip. We travel as a group to each location and stay in the same hotels. Supervised free time is allowed for shopping and exploring historical sites and museums.

Parents and families are not permitted to travel with the ACU group. However, families can travel concurrently with a Rising Scholar booking a different return flight to extend their stay with family.

We will fly as a group from DFW International Airport. If you live out of Texas, ACU will cover the cost of your flight to join the group in DFW.

Travel to New Mexico

Wilderness Trek is a 46 year old nonprofit that uses outdoor adventure to train disciples and build leaders. The basecamp is just outside of Santa Fe, New Mexico, at around 8,000 ft. and is located among aspen, pinion pines and ponderosa pine trees. With 2,500 acres of private land and over 2 million acres of public land at their disposal, they lead adventure and training activities on both private and public land. They are a licensed backcountry guide service with the National Forest Service, National Parks Service and Bureau of Land Management as well as the states of New Mexico, Colorado, Utah and Arizona. Learn more at https://www.wildernesstrek.org/.

This trip is designed for 15-25 students per session.

Students, faculty and staff stay at the Glorieta Camps basecamp with bunk room lodging.

Wilderness Trek recommends the following: “Hiking in the mountains, backpacking, rappelling, rock climbing and many of the events we offer require participants to challenge themselves. Doing anything at 8,000-12,000 ft. to people from lower elevations is sometimes difficult. We recommend people start walking, working out or being active before their trip and be “in shape.” If you cannot walk three miles without stopping on flat ground, you will most likely struggle with a 40-60 lb. backpack at altitude on uneven ground. While we strive to make every trip attainable for “the average person” and keep our activities appropriate, the reality is that some people underestimate the challenge and struggle. Traveling through the mountains is hard (That’s the point!). Wilderness Trek is not for everyone, but for those wanting a challenge, it is a life changing experience.” 

Students are responsible for transportation to and from Santa Fe. Students may choose to drive directly to the camp location or fly into the Albuquerque International Sunport Airport. A shuttle to and from the airport will be provided.

Wilderness Trek provides all backpacking equipment and gear needed. Accepted students will receive a detailed packing list closer to the departure date.

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