What makes a successful application?

When evaluating applications for the Tujenge Scholars Program, there are no formulas or minimum cutoffs that we use to determine whether a student ultimately is admitted into the program. We practice what is often called a “holistic” review process, which simply means that we take all aspects of a student’s application into account when making a decision to admit or deny.

Academic excellence is probably the single most important criterion for selection, but an application that is strong academically but weak in the other elements won’t be successful. Similarly, a student with lower academics but exhibits strength in leadership and character may be offered admission.

While crafting each cohort, we are constantly asking what an applicant offers to his or her future classmates, and whether they will learn when they are brought together with other scholars from wildly different backgrounds and perspectives.

Throughout the review process, applicants are evaluated against the following broad criteria:

Tujenge Scholars are some of the most academically accomplished students in the country. Successful applicants will have taken full advantage of the educational opportunities available to them. We use information about a student’s results on the Exam d’Etat, school records (including grades and class rank for the final four years of school). To a lesser extent, we also try to understand the academic profile of the school where a student is applying from – both to better gauge the student’s scholastic acumen and also to put educational opportunity into perspective.

In the past, the program has accepted students from eight different sections. Many admitted scholars were the top students in their class. Most scored well above 70% on their Exam d’Etat. All admitted scholars have the academic profile to succeed in challenging pre-university coursework.

We encourage prospective applicants to look at the academic profiles of recently admitted classes to better understand the types of students that are ultimately successful in the application process.

Successful applicants will display an ability to learn and grow from setback. Tujenge Scholars Program emphatically subscribes to a growth-mindset vision of success and intelligence, and we look for students who demonstrate that they can reflect on their failures and ultimately emerge stronger and more resilient.

Applicants are evaluated on their grit and determination through essay responses, interviews, and letters of recommendation.

The world is in desperate need of leaders who believe in justice and morality, and have the strength to stand up for what is right in the world. Because the program is designed to empower a generation of moral leadership, we take care to select scholars who have demonstrated their ability to “do the right thing” even when it is unpopular and difficult. 

Applicants are evaluated on their character and integrity through essay responses, interviews, and letters of recommendation.

Leadership comes in many forms, from being the captain of your school’s Math Olympiad team, to being an oldest child with responsibilities at home to take care of younger siblings and manage the household. Leadership doesn’t have to be loud or visible, and many successful applicants instead display a quieter leadership style that supports the success of others. 

No matter what form your leadership comes in, it’s an important part of a successful application. We look for evidence of leadership throughout your application, including in the activities section, essays, interview, and letters of recommendation.

Because the Tujenge Scholars Program is only eighteen months in length, it is crucial that students arrive at the program ready to interact with their peers and instructors in the English language. There is a heavy emphasis on developing English proficiency early in the program, but the reality is that we have to require a bare minimum fluency before the start of the program. Prospective scholars are encouraged to think about their willingness to join an educational program where the sole language is English.

We encourage applications from applicants regardless of English proficiency, and welcome students to advocate for their preparedness for an English-language curriculum.

English proficiency is evaluated throughout the application, particularly in the essays and the interview.