Tips for a Successful ICSP Application and Interview


The ICSP is a very competitive scholarship and only a few students are accepted into the program each year. As you are working on your application for ICSP, we highly recommend that you consider the role of culture in your daily life and the importance of cultural understanding in the community. The main mission of the ICSP is to grow cultural understanding at PSU and in the Portland community, so use that cultural lens to write your essays and create your presentation for the application. 


Before you apply: 

  • Read the eligibility requirements and all of the information on the website thoroughly.

  • Ask your recommenders to fill out the recommendation form as early as possible, and use references who can speak to your character in a professional way. There is no deadline extension for your recommendations.

  • Attend an ICSP Information Session or visit our office to ask questions and become more familiar with the program (information at the Contact Us page). We're here to help you!

For your application:

  • Be as specific as possible about your financial circumstances in your Financial Need essay. 

  • Stick closely to the essay prompts, and include a strong thesis statement and conclusion and as many examples as you can. Check this ICSP Essay Rubric to get an idea of the main qualities we are looking for in the essays. 

  • Proofread your essays multiple times, and have someone else read them too. Resources such as the Writing Center can be really helpful!

  • Be as creative and yet professional as possible when creating your presentation and preparing for your interview. Slides that are well organized, in color, and described by an additional outline with text are the most successful. 

For the interview:

  • Keep your presentation topic narrowed to 5 minutes. Don't try to tell us everything about your country in one 5 minute presentation - rather, go more in depth about one particular interesting aspect of your culture that you can describe well in 5 minutes. 


  • The more interactive and creative your interview presentation is, the better. Consider the difference between seeing a picture of a mango and actually tasting one - it's like that with culture! Try your best to show the committee your culture using more than one physical sense (for example, one or more of the following; food to taste, music or dance to listen to, cultural clothing or artifacts to see and touch, language to learn and practice, etc.)

  • Practice your interview several times so that it is polished and flows well and lasts only 5 minutes. Have a friend or roommate watch you and give you feedback. Ideally, practice with someone who is not familiar with the topic you're presenting, so that you can see what kind of reactions and questions they will have.


  • Check out these interview tips from PSU's Advising and Career Services Office. You can also visit them for practice with your interview.  


Find us: 

KMC 660L

615 SW Harrison

Portland State University, Portland, OR 97201

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