Information about Texas Girls State, for High School Faculty
(We kindly request that you keep this page among your campus staff, and not share with students or parents.)
What is Texas Girls State?
A week-long leadership camp for Texas high school rising seniors, sponsored by the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Texas, where students learn about citizenship, government and leadership through hands-on mock government activities -- such as running for office, registering to vote, setting up city and county government, and drafting and passing legislation -- with peers from across the state. Read more here.
Oh! So, just like Texas Boys State?
Ehhh.... yes and no. The programs have similar structure and purpose, but they are run differently from top to bottom. Even in the Frisco area, the American Legion Post 178 Boys State Committee handles their selection process differently from the ALA Unit 178 Girls State group. Our application, timeline, interviews and camp dates are all different.
Of course the students applying are in the same grade and often share many classes, so at this time of year, the boys and girls do tend to talk and share "intel" about the selection process -- but what is true for one may not be true for the other. Please help us remind the students that the two programs and processes are not the same!
Who can attend Texas Girls State?
Texas high school girls may apply to attend during their junior year, and the camp takes place in June before senior year. Our selection process is a joint effort between the local ALA Unit and the school campus. Students are not allowed to apply directly to the Girls State program; they must be sponsored by a qualifying organization such as ALA Unit 178.
While there are no defined resume or academic/extracurricular requirements to attend Girls State, we like to point out that it is really a program for students who have already distinguished themselves on campus. This is not the right place for a student that is just starting to consider her leadership opportunities at school. Girls State citizens are young women of character and leadership who are already excelling in their schools and communities.
What kind of student enjoys Texas Girls State?
GS is a fast-moving, high-energy program, where citizens will meet and live in a dorm-style setting on a college campus alongside hundreds of girls from every corner of Texas. Students who are comfortable in new environments; are interested in learning about public affairs and current events; are capable of advocating for themselves and communicating effectively and respectfully with their peers... all will thrive in the Girls State experience. Some schools focus on sending their students active in debate, forensics, Model UN, etc. -- but that is honestly not a necessary background to enjoy and benefit from the program.
Why should my students care about Texas Girls State?
1. Unrivaled growth opportunity. GS is a unique environment, with young leaders from all over the state learning side by side about government. In the process of creating a mythical 51st state in just six days, these young female leaders will gain outstanding personal development, communication skills, and learn current affairs, and love of country. These are all delivered in a non-partisan, propaganda-free environment where experienced staff lead classes and activities specially designed for young women. It is truly a life-changing experience for a student who is open to learning from others and expanding her leadership skills.
2. A strong signal to college admissions counselors. Because no more than 600 girls from the entire state of Texas will be selected to attend -- all of whom are outstanding students on their home campuses -- your girls would significantly benefit from having this elite experience on their resume. GS is an especially impactful bullet item for a student considering one of the service academies.
How much does the program cost?
$0, for any student selected to attend. It is the philosophy of the ALA nationally that students are never allowed to pay their own way to attend a Girls State program -- thus insuring that selection is always about merit and never about a family's ability to pay.
Tuition, transportation, and room and board for the Frisco delegation are paid in full by American Legion Auxiliary Unit 178 of Frisco. A student might opt to take some spending money for snacks, T-shirts, campaign materials, etc. But otherwise there is no cost, as the Frisco ALA Unit 178 raises money from community donors to fund our delegation.
How can juniors from my school apply?
Any student who wants to be part of the ALA Unit 178 Girls State delegation will follow the same process:
Through January 7, 2023, HS junior girls from the ALA Unit 178 service area are invited to read and learn about Texas Girls State, and then speak to their counselor about the program.
Then, there are two ways a student can enter our process:
She can be nominated by her school faculty (that's you!) "LEARN MORE: SCHOOL NOMINATION PROCESS"
She may nominate herself, to be considered by the ALA GS Selection Committee. "LEARN MORE: SELF NOMINATION PROCESS"
Each high school has a slightly different approach. Some prefer to collect suggestions from teachers and staff on the campus, and then those identified girls can be directly given the application information. Some prefer to let administration identify nominees.
On other campuses, the administration prefers to simply put all the information out to the entire junior class and let them consider it for themselves and choose whether to apply.
While we rather that you identify and direct your top junior girls our way (because you know your students better than we ever could!), ALA Unit 178 supports whatever approach your campus prefers.
Does our school's choice of process impact the student's application?
No. For a student who self-nominates, we simply have to reach out to campus faculty to get references and request additional information. The student will not have a different experience either way.
How many delegates will you pick from our high school?
We traditionally send between 10-20 total girls each year, from across the pool of applicants -- which includes all high schools in Frisco ISD, Prosper ISD, Little Elm ISD, and the private and charter schools in the community. We send as many girls as our funding will allow, each year.
There is no pre-determined number per campus, as a result of our selection process: Once we have applications from all interested/nominated girls, they will all go into a "blind" scoring pool together. Each student will be reviewed and interviewed with no consideration given to her last name or her HS campus. This allows us to send the best girls from the entire pool; sometimes School A will have more girls chosen than School B or C, and then the next year maybe School D will have more girls selected than A, B, C and E.
Still, any high school that sends multiple nominees is almost assured of having at least one student selected for the delegation.
If your campus would like to identify and nominate certain students to apply for Girls State:
Please review this packet: 2023 Texas Girls State Information for Counselors
Encourage your students to seek out previous Girls State citizens, to ask about her experience. (This unusual program is best described by someone who has just attended.) If your school doesn't have a current senior who attended GS last summer, please get in touch and we can bring a student in to speak if desired.
When you are ready to direct your nominees to apply, please provide them with this packet.
Please note that the packet linked above contains a Google Forms link that is specifically for use by students who were identified by/nominated by their faculty. If a student comes to us through that link, we will know that she was sent with the endorsement of your campus teachers and administrators.
If your campus would like to provide the information to all your junior girls, and allow them to self-nominate if interested:
Please review this packet: 2023 Texas Girls State Information for Counselors
When you share the information with your students, please encourage them to review our ALA website, especially the Girls State page, as well as the ALA Unit 178 Facebook page. Encourage your students to seek out previous Girls State citizens, to ask about her experience; if your school doesn't have a current senior who attended GS last summer, please get in touch and we can bring a student in to speak if desired.
Please share this packet with your students. This can be distributed to the entire class if you like. The application link within will take the student to a self-nomination form. In that form, the applicant will be asked to give the contact info for her guidance counselor and principal, and we will contact those individuals for references if needed in January.
General info applicable to all schools:
Please discourage your students from rushing through the application process purely in order to submit early. There is no "early decision" for Girls State; we will not review any applications until after the window closes on January 7, 2023. Since applying and submitting earlier does not create an advantage, they may as well take the time to get through the end of the semester, and do some research if needed before applying. Girls State is not a great fit for everyone! Even if a student has been encouraged by her counselor to apply, she needs to read about the structure and curriculum and be sure it's worth committing a week of her senior summer -- one that might be better given to another activity.
That said, the application process has multiple parts -- which is why we provide 30+ days including winter break to complete it. Since the girls are given ample time to apply, we do not track down a student if she does not complete her application (she may have changed her mind about her interest). Nor do we accept late submissions.
Just to be helpful to our school staff, ALA Unit 178 will send one reminder to all HS counselors, the week before school gets out for winter break -- in case you want to remind your procrastinator kiddos to apply.
We encourage you to encourage your students to read the directions thoroughly and to submit the application thoughtfully. It is not a long or taxing process, and your best kids are not likely to have any issues with submitting it in full, on time. (And besides, our application is a drop in the bucket compared to a college admissions application!)
Thank you for all you do for the kids in our community!