A Q&A with the Schwarzman Scholars Admissions Team
The need for strong leadership has never been more apparent, and that makes the work the Schwarzman Scholars Admissions team does all the more important.
“Take a look at any news source, and you can see why the world needs leaders of sharp intellect and strong character,” said Director of Global Admissions, Cordel Faulk. “We’re looking for people who are innovative and motivated by excellence.”
With just over one month left until this year’s Schwarzman Scholars application deadline, we sat down with Schwarzman Scholars Admissions Officers Frederico Menino, Sarah Fischer and Thomas Tomezsko who shared their advice for those applying.
Who should apply to Schwarzman Scholars?
Sarah: Someone who is ready to dive in! The Schwarzman Scholars experience goes by fast. We’re looking for Scholars who can embrace the unknown, lean into the discomfort of a new environment, and form meaningful and lasting relationships with their cohort and professors. Show us in your application how you’ll use Schwarzman Scholars to grow as a future global leader.
Tom: One of the most exciting things about Schwarzman Scholars is that there is a seat for everyone at the table. Our goal is to create a truly global community that bridges differences in perspective through mutual understanding. The only requirements are open-mindedness and willingness to engage others.
What is the best piece that you can give an applicant?
Fre: I have three pieces of advice. First off: start early. Have a strategy to complete your application and give yourself enough time to revise your application materials before submitting. Second: make your application personal. The Schwarzman Scholars application process is about you. We want to know who you are, why you want to be a part of our community and what you have to contribute to our mission. Third: get others involved. Making the application process “personal” doesn’t mean you should isolate yourself from the world when crafting your essays and responses. Let others know that you are invested in this opportunity. Invite your peers, recommenders and mentors to offer feedback on your essays and application materials. It takes a village to write a strong application.
Tom: Don’t get caught up in what you think your application “should” look like. We don’t want you to minimize or flatten yourself in the application process. Instead, lean into your unique interests, strengths and perspectives. Apply with conviction that you, with all of your complexities, will both benefit from and contribute to the Schwarzman Scholars experience.
Why should young people apply for a program like Schwarzman Scholars?
Tom: In a time when opportunities for both cross-cultural dialogue and affordable master’s-level education are hard to come by, a program like Schwarzman Scholars is truly special. Young people with big ambitions can take their careers to the next level with Schwarzman Scholars, while making the world a more interconnected, empathetic place.
Sarah: I truly believe that programs like Schwarzman Scholars are the only way to see through today’s geopolitical chaos and into a brighter, more peaceful future. They are an investment in the next generation of leaders who will ignite positive social, political, financial and environmental change. If you have a desire to make an impact, then Schwarzman Scholars is a life-changing next step that will further your education, expand your boundaries and introduce you to an international community of change-makers.
What makes a good letter of recommendation?
Fre: Letters of recommendation are a very important part of your application materials, as they serve as vehicles to communicate your story to the Admissions committee. Make sure you choose your recommenders wisely by thinking about who you consider to be exemplary leaders. Mentors, professors, advisers, and senior managers who have experience in managing and inspiring high-performing teams and organizations are usually in a better position to identify and endorse rising talent.
Make sure that your recommenders know you. Your recommenders may be public figures, celebrities and high-achievers with fancy titles. But if they don’t know who they are recommending, their letters will likely be weak. Finally, your recommenders should know about Schwarzman Scholars. As much as possible, educate your recommenders about the program, tell them what is unique about Schwarzman Scholars and why you want to be part of it.
How can an applicant best prepare for the interview process?
Sarah: Interviews can feel like a daunting process. Before interviews, we supply finalists with tips on how to put their best foot forward. I like to remind finalists that getting to interview stage is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. They should feel confident going into the interview that they belong and deserve this experience. Imposter syndrome is a natural reaction, but can derail interviewees into second guessing their answers. Having confidence can set them on the right path!
Fre: For those who make it to the final stage of our selection process, the single most important tip I have is to read your entire application again before the interview. The Schwarzman Scholars interview can be intimidating. But in the end, it is an open conversation about you, your interests, your goals and your desire to join our program. There are no right or wrong answers for most interview questions. Be yourself. Be authentic. Be informed about current global affairs. Be thoughtful. Most importantly, if you have the privilege to be invited to the interview stage, have fun and enjoy this amazing opportunity!
What is your favorite part about being an admissions officer?
Fre: As someone whose life has been transformed by international educational opportunities, I know how transformative Schwarzman Scholars can be for young leaders around the world. Every year, I get to know hundreds of brilliant prospective scholars from all backgrounds and walks of life. Knowing that there is so much talent in the world and that the Schwarzman Scholars mission resonates with so many exceptional individuals is a daily inspiration to me.
Sarah: My favorite part being an admissions officer is getting to know prospective applicants. I am energized by their enthusiasm for change, conviction in their goals, and openness to feedback. I’ve spoken to so many young adults from around the world who are dedicated to making this world better, and it gives me hope for the future.
The Schwarzman Scholars application deadline for the 2023-24 academic year is September 20th. Start your application here today.