Campus Contacts FAQ
Should advisors encourage or discourage candidates from applying? What are you looking for in applicants?
Schwarzman Scholars utilizes an open application system, and academic institutions (universities, colleges) do not act as gatekeepers or screeners of applications. Nonetheless, advisors may play a critical role in helping students decide whether to apply for highly selective competitions. We welcome advisors playing this role.
Will advisors have access to the application system?
Due to the global nature of the program, the large number of universities we are working with around the globe, as well as the wide age range of our applicant pool, we will not be able to provide individuals other than applicants and selection panelists direct access to our online application.
How does a student know who is the official campus contact person?
We have a database so that students can locate the campus contact person, if such a person has been designated. If a campus contact person has not been designated, we will work with the student to add someone from the campus to our system.
What is your policy on advisors helping students with their application?
We encourage advisors to help students think through the strategy of their applications and to ensure that their applications, including essays, effectively and accurately communicate the applicants’ strengths. However, the essay submitted with the application must reflect the applicant’s writing abilities, and we therefore do not want advisors offering line by line proofreading or offering close editorial commentary. An example of “high-level” (and therefore acceptable) advice is “You should put more emphasis in your essay on the challenges you faced creating a new student organization on campus.” An example of editorial/proofreading (and therefore unacceptable) advice is “Your introductory sentence in the section on your leadership experience is written in passive voice; it would be stronger if written in an active voice.”
Who should complete the Letter of Recommendation?
Currently enrolled undergraduate students can request one of the three required letters of recommendation from their academic institution. This will be completed by different offices, depending on the institution. In some colleges and universities in the United States, this letter can be submitted by the Fellowships Office or a comparable institution-wide service office. In other colleges or universities, it might be written by the dean of students or the registrar.
Is there a word limit on the letter of recommendation?
No. The letters of recommendation can be uploaded as a word document, and although we appreciate brevity, there is no official word limit.
May advisors/fellowship offices set an earlier deadline and process for evaluating candidates and completing the letter of recommendation?
Applications, including letters of recommendation must be submitted by the deadline. However, universities are welcome to require students to complete their applications and request the letter of recommendation prior to the deadline. The decision-making process will move quickly, so we cannot accept incomplete applications. All applicants will be able to view the status of their applications (including whether or not recommendations have been successfully submitted on their behalf) in a self-service portal as part of the online application.
What type of transcript should a student submit?
Our preference is for a scanned copy of an official transcript. We are aware, however, that universities have many different practices in issuing transcripts directly to students, and sometimes issue a formal document, produced by the registrar, that for a variety of reasons might be considered unofficial. We will accept any transcript that has been produced by the registrar that shows the student’s name and all courses and grades. We will not accept a screen shot or PDF of a website that allows students to check their own grades and credits. If a student is selected as a Schwarzman Scholar, we will then require hardcopy of the official transcript(s).
What should my students expect at the interviews? How can I help them prepare?
Interviews are free-flowing conversations, driven by but not limited to your written application. Please come to the interview prepared to discuss your application in detail, ready to answer specific questions about your essays and experiences, but also be flexible as the conversation follows tangents and evolves over the course of the 25 minutes. Candidates will receive the names of their panelists upon arrival at the interview site, and please note that program leadership may join for portions of the interview. A typical panel has 5-6 members, high level figures from business, politics, non-profit organizations and universities.
The 25 minutes will be allocated along the following general guidelines:
- The chair will ask you to introduce yourself very briefly, approximately one minute, describing your background and professional interests. Please do not bring notes for your self-introduction.
- The chair will then invite panelists to ask questions, prompted either by your application or your introduction. Questions and follow up questions may also cover new topics introduced or prompted by your answers, so that the conversation evolves over time to topics not covered in your written application.
- At the 20 minute mark, the time keeper will pause the conversation, and one panel member will ask a randomly selected question from current news events, outside of your area of specialty, asking you to offer your thoughts on the topic.
- The interview will wrap up very promptly at 25 minutes. Candidates should be prepared for transitions at 20 minutes and 25 minutes and not interpret an abrupt or early ending as a negative sign.
You may want to prepare by having “practice interviews” using the framework above with friends or colleagues who have read your application and can ask you questions about your leadership. If your university or college has a fellowships or career office that offers mock interview assistance, please feel free to share this information with them. We cannot predict what questions interviewers will ask, and request that candidates not memorize answers to anticipated questions. To prepare, be sure you are comfortable answering questions related, even tangentially, to the three essays (personal statement, leadership, and current affairs),to discuss additional examples of your leadership, and to discuss how being a Schwarzman Scholar advances your academic and professional interests and/or builds on what you have already studied and experienced.