First-Year

Overview

The Robertson First-Year Selection Process invites current first-year students at Duke and UNC to apply to join the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program at the end of their freshman year. Funding begins with the Community Summer, and scholars receive full program benefits in subsequent years.

First-year applicants are evaluated primarily on their performance, initiative, and accomplishments during their first semester in college. Keeping in mind that leadership for a first semester freshman looks quite different than it might for a high school senior, we are looking for students who have the passion and potential to make significant contributions to their university and greater communities during and beyond their time at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill.

The application deadline for the 2013–2014 selection year has passed.

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Timeline: 2013-14

  • Early December
    Robertson online application available
  • January 27
    Deadline to submit Robertson online application and letters of recommendation
  • February 17
    Applicants notified of updated status. Quarterfinalists invited to interview
  • February 19-20
    Quarterfinalist Interviews conducted
  • March 4-5
    Semifinalist Interviews conducted
  • April 5-8
    Robertson Finalist Weekend – hosted at Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill

Application: 2013-14

This year’s Robertson Scholars Leadership Program application for current first-year students at Duke and UNC-Chapel Hill will be available online in early December to complete and submit by January 27, 2014. It contains five required sections, as detailed below.

1. Personal and demographic information

2. Two (2) letters of recommendation

  • At least one recommender should be a Duke or UNC faculty or staff member (graduate-level or above, or of equivalent experience)
  • The second recommender may be anyone who can speak to your leadership and character (teacher, coach, counselor, job/volunteer supervisor, research mentor, etc)
  • Recommendations from family members are not encouraged
  • Peer recommendations are acceptable
  • You will be asked to submit the names and email addresses of your recommenders through the online application system. Your recommender will then receive a request email that contains a link to the online recommender form.
  • Recommenders are asked to address specific prompts, which can be found on the Counselors & Recommenders page

3. Academic Information

    • Self-reported SAT or ACT scores (required)
    • High school information such as GPA, class rank, AP/IB scores, and advanced coursework (if available)
    • College information such as first semester GPA, coursework, and grades

4. Activities & Accomplishments

    • Honors and awards, extracurricular activities, and work experiences from both high school and college

5. Essays

    • The essays demonstrate your ability to write clearly, concisely, and effectively. Use this as an opportunity to highlight experiences that are not found elsewhere on your application or resume.

Leadership

1. List three adjectives that best describe you as a leader. Provide specific examples of how each has helped and hindered your ability to lead. 200 word limit per adjective.

Character
Complete only ONE of the two questions below. Please limit your response to no more than 500 words.

1. Describe a time you found yourself in an uncomfortable or difficult situation. How did you cope with it and what did you learn from it?

2. Tell us about a time you worked with someone with whom you disagreed on a significant matter. How did you manage the situation? If you could do it again, how would you have worked together to be more effective?

Intellectual Curiosity & Innovation
Complete only ONE of the two questions below. Please limit your response to no more than 500 words.

1. We are surrounded by job opportunities and occupations that did not exist a decade ago. Professor Cathy Davidson suggests that 65 percent of students today will end up working in fields that have yet to be invented. What future job that does not currently exist would you love to explore and why?

2. “A picture is worth a thousand words” as the adage goes (though we’re only giving you 500). Submit a picture or photo and tell us how it relates to your intellectual curiosity or innovative spirit.

Eligibility Guidelines

  • Students who applied to the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program in high school but did not advance as a finalist or scholar are still eligible apply as first-year students. The Robertson Selection Committee will not review first-year students’ high school applications submitted in the previous year’s selection cycle.
  • Students must not have matriculated at any other college or university prior to entry into Duke or UNC. Transfer students are not eligible to apply. Students who participated in Early College programs are still eligible to apply.
  • Students must be enrolled as full-time, degree-seeking students at Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill (a minimum of four full credits per semester at Duke, and a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester at UNC-Chapel Hill).
  • Students who currently receive a full-tuition or near-full tuition merit scholarship from the university are not eligible to apply (including OUSF scholars at Duke and Morehead-Cain, Innovation, Chancellor’s Science, Carolina, Pogue, and Colonel Robinson scholars at UNC). Students on partial scholarship are considered on a case-by-case basis. Outside scholarships do not affect students’ eligibility for the program.
  • Students must have a clear judicial record.

Frequently Asked Questions

Click a question below to read more.

Is there a minimum GPA required to apply?

First-year applicants are not required to have a minimum GPA in order to apply. However, the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program anticipates that applicants will be competitive in the pool with a minimum GPA of approximately 3.2 after their first semester at Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill. Applicants must also be enrolled as full-time students for both semesters.
May I apply if I am an international student?

Yes; there are no restrictions on citizenship or residency for the Robertson First-Year Selection Program. Robertson Scholars are a highly diverse community, and we welcome students of all backgrounds, nationalities, religions, ethnicities, and orientations.
If I applied to the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program as a high school senior, may I apply again?

Any first-year student may apply to the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, regardless of whether the student had previously applied as a high school senior. Students who were previously selected as Finalists will be at neither an advantage nor disadvantage as they will be evaluated solely on their first semester of college.
If I apply early, will it increase my chances?

No. All application reviews will begin after the application deadline.
Should I submit my high school transcript or other extra materials in my application packet?

No. Students applying through the First-Year Selection Program are evaluated primarily on their first-semester performance at Duke or UNC-Chapel Hill.
May I submit more than two letters of recommendation?

No. Only two letters of recommendation per applicant will be reviewed.
If selected, what commitments will I have during the spring semester of my first year?

Scholars selected through the First-Year Selection Process join the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program immediately and begin to work closely with the Assistant Director for Summer Enrichment to prepare for the Community Summer. Students are expected to meet all deadlines concerning their summer planning and attend all remaining Colloquium classes, schedules permitting.
May I miss all or part of the first summer experience if I have a pre-scheduled commitment for that summer?

The Community Summer is an integral part of the Robertson experience and is required. While scholars will need to spend a minimum of eight weeks in a location in the United States, there may be some limited flexibility on when students may begin and end their summer experiences.
If I am selected as a Robertson Scholar, can I still participate in a DukeEngage program?

Students who have accepted a Duke Engage internship for the summer of 2014 are still eligible to apply for the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program. However, if a student is accepted to both DukeEngage and the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program, he or she must withdraw from the DukeEngage internship in order to participate in the Community Summer. The student would also lose eligibility to apply for any future DukeEngage experiences.

In the subsequent summers, Duke Scholars are eligible to participate in group-oriented Duke Engage summer programs. Scholars are encouraged to follow all DukeEngage procedures and inform the Robertson staff of their plans to pursue DukeEngage opportunities.