Tips for a Successful Application
You should be able to explain how and why studying abroad will enhance your education. Try to make your reasons unique; statements about “broadening your horizons” are too simplistic. Also, it is important to do your homework on the Rotary, and much information is available on the Rotary website.
The Interview Process and District Nomination Process
After your application is received by the District, the Scholarship Committee will review your application and may contact you for an interview. Although your interview is only about half an hour long, you are asked to be at the interview site about a half-hour in advance. Rotarians, alumni, and visiting Rotary Scholars will be there to talk and to answer any questions that you may have. While Rotary is not explicitly evaluating you while you are mingling with others, what you do during this time will be a part of their overall impression of you. A good guideline is to regard the occasion as you would a formal dinner.
A selection committee of about a dozen Rotarians and perhaps a Scholar will ask you questions. If you are applying to go to a country with a fairly common official language (German, Spanish, French, Japanese), expect someone there to test you in your speaking ability. The selection committee will probably not ask you esoteric questions or purposely try to stump you; if they do, remember to stay calm. If the committee asks a difficult question, take a moment to think--it can only help your answer.
Expect country specific questions and be sure you understand the purpose of the Rotary Awards. Remember they are not just to help you pursue your academic goals but also to foster people to people relationships.
Be ready for general questions like:
* What type of difficulties/challenges do you expect to face and how will you surmount them?
* What was your most significant achievement? How was it significant?
* Why do you think we should pick you above other candidates for the Scholarship?
* Be ready to answer questions on current events, especially regarding your country.
The following is the interview experience of Sinclair Wu (Stanford student, Rotary Scholar - Summer ‘95):
“When it finally came time for me to be interviewed, I walked into a room expecting only a small panel. Lo and behold there were about a dozen rather serious-looking people sitting around an oval table... Some of the questions that I was asked included:
1. Why are you applying for a Rotary Foundation Cultural Ambassadorial Scholarship?
2. What is your opinion of the American political system?
3. How would you explain the American political system to a foreigner?
4. What do you know about Japan?
5. What do you know about the Rotary Foundation?
6. Why should we nominate you as an Ambassadorial Scholar over other applicants?
7. What would you say is your greatest accomplishment?
8. What challenges have you encountered as a Treat Cross Cultural Exchange Program Fellow?
9. Describe two different situations in which you organized something with other people.
10. Give a one-minute introduction of yourself in Japanese.
“The research I did on Rotary prior to my interview turned out to be very helpful. Question 1 or some form of it is almost always asked, so have a relatively well-polished answer in mind. Questions 4 and 5 are extremely open-ended; if you are asked questions like these, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or direction. Avoid babble.”
If you are nominated for a scholarship at the District level, you are basically guaranteed a scholarship, provided you gain entrance to the university of your choice and pass an additional language exam (where necessary). (Final confirmation from Rotary International takes about four months to process.) Rotary is involved in your university application process only to the extent that you receive a letter stating that you will be a Rotary Scholar and that the Rotary Foundation will provide the funding outlined in the particular scholarship for which you have been nominated. Depending on your host country and institution, this letter of financial support could be an important part of your application since visas for many countries are contingent on financial security.
Once you are admitted to your first choice institution, you will also be expected to go to that university. Only if you were not able to gain admission or if that university does not offer your course of study are you allowed to change. At this time, it is very possible that even if you can gain admission to another university, you will not be allowed to use the scholarship for that particular university because that district may already be oversaturated with other Rotary Scholars. Therefore, get the application in as early as possible. Remember that the Rotary Committee does not help you with admission.
The ORC staff is available to assist you through your application process. Please keep in mind that we have an extensive library of foreign university catalogs, reference books, and other information which you may find helpful. We are also available to critique your application essays and provide general advice. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to ask.