Student Selection Guidelines

Please download the Student Selection Guidelines PDF. It contains details on finding and selecting students, methods, sample letters, forms and questionnaires you can print out and use during the student selection process.

Student Selection Guidelines (.pdf file 192 KB)

Identifying Appropriate Applicants

Participants may NOT have attended previous a RYLA.

If your club is sponsoring a Youth Exchange Student that student is expected to be sent to RYLA, sponsored and paid for by your club. If you are unable to sponsor your Youth Exchange Student please contact administration immediately to determine if there is another club able to do so.

It is important to identify students we sponsor for RYLA who will truly benefit from the experience and will be leaders on their return to school. Students that are selected to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards should be well prepared for the experience, and be aware of the sponsoring organization.

Policies regarding the eligibility and selection of student participants have evolved over the years.

All high school students are welcome! The best candidates are members of Interact Clubs but do hope that non-interact members will join Interact or start an Interact Club after their RYLA experience.


Juniors make the best candidates for RYLA because they are old enough to have the respect of their fellow students and they become great leaders when they return to school in the fall as Seniors. Thelessons they learn at RYLA can be utilized to strengthen their Interact clubs, start Interact clubs, spread the word about RYLA, start meaningful projects, develop relationships with faculty advisors, and develop relationships with their sponsoring Rotary Club for the entire following school year.


Sophomores make great candidates because they have plenty of time to benefit from their Leadership skills learned at RYLA. They have the same opportunities that Juniors have and they can become active members of their schools and their communities. They are developing socially into young adults that can benefit from the trajectory that RYLA can place them on.


The goal of RYLA is to have each participate return to the high school and become leaders. Since seniors will be moving on to college, they offer little benefit to their high school with only two months left after RYLA ends. The best we can hope for with our Senior RYLA students is that the become active in Rotoract or at least adopt a Rotarian mindset. Please send Seniors only if you feel that they are the best candidate that your club can send.


Freshman are welcome at RYLA and many become great leaders. They are young compared to the rest of the RYLA population. Everyone is treated with respect and dignity while at RYLA but many Freshman are intimidated by older students. We have seen many grow and develop as leaders in the short amount of time they are at RYLA so there are many success stories.

District 5240 highly recommends that you send your Interact President-Elect to RYLA. This practice has greatly grown and improved our District’s Interact clubs recently. The RYLA program has proven to be a driving force in founding new Interact Clubs. Participation by Non-Interact members, especially in schools without Interact Clubs, will prove beneficial in growing Interact membership.

The key element to look for are students who show the potential for leadership, under the age of 18 and not have attended RYLA in the past. When beginning the process consider contacting your neighbor Rotary club to work together in acquiring candidates and holding interviews.

Students must agree to a behavior code and can be sent home for inappropriate behavior. Relatives of Rotarians are permitted to attend RYLA. However, some clubs may not be legally allowed to pay for the tuition from their non-profit accounts. In this case, tuition may be paid by the Rotarian and not their club. Check with your club’s treasurer.