"Every great accomplishment begins with the decision to try."
- Gail Devers
Whether or not you end up winning a national fellowship, the process of developing your application will help you to clarify your purpose and goals moving forward. The resources below should help you with each stage of the application process from deciding what to apply for to crafting a winning personal statement. For further assistance, make an appointment with the Assistant Director for Nationally Competitive Awards & University Honors Program and complete the Potential Fellowship Candidate Questionnaire.
Fellowship and scholarship opportunities are much more than just a way to get money for college. Regardless of the outcome, completing an application can help you gain valuable skills that are transferable to other aspects of your life. Seek an undergraduate experience that maximizes your personal, intellectual and professional growth. Becoming a good candidate for a national-level award should be the by-product of you striving toward excellence and realizing your passions. Here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Pursue a challenging academic path and stretch your intellectual curiosity. Join the University Honors Program, take a graduate level course, add a minor or major.
- Keep track of your achievements (large and small) using the ISU Co-Curricular Transcript.
- Get work, internship, and volunteer experiences in your field. Start your freshman year! Visit career services in your college for guidance, resume review, interview preparation, etc.
- Make time for public service and volunteerism in an area that you're passionate about. If you can connect this service to your future academic and career goals in any way, do so! Check out what's on at the ISU Leadership and Service Center.
- Go abroad! Study, research, or work abroad as early as possible to gain different perspectives and expand your world view. Visit the ISU Study Abroad Center to start planning!
- Plan extra-curricular involvement carefully. Be active in organizations that are meaningful to you and your journey. It's less important to be a member of 10 organizations than it is to be an "active" member of 2-3. Check out ISU student orgs here!
- Seek teaching, mentoring and leadership opportunities as early as your freshman year. Check out what's on at the ISU Leadership and Service Center.
- Get involved with Undergraduate Research. Aim to present and/or publish your research findings in local, regional or national venues.
- Plan to apply to smaller scholarships and competitions as a "practice" for future award application processes. View opportunities here.
- Build your network! Dedicate time to forming relationships with faculty, staff, colleagues, and peers who will support you.
- Know yourself. Spend time thinking about who you are, what you care about, and what you hope to achieve. This will guide your academic and extra-curricular decisions.
- Think outside the box! Actively seek out development opportunities. Be innovative. Create something new.
- Conduct informational interviews with role models in your field. Identify a mentor to help guide you.
- Read books, newspapers, magazines, etc. Stay abreast of what's gonig on in the world around you.
- Plan and research opportunities. Familiarize yourself with timelines and application deadlines. Read profiles of past winners for awards you may plan to target in the future.
- Take care of your mental and physical health - sleep, eat, exercise and meditate regularly. Check out what's on at ISU Student Wellness!
Utlize the resources below to search for fellowship opportunities that may be a fit for you!
- Nationally Competitive Awards Directory
- Prestige Scholarships for College
- Institute for International Education
- University of South Carolina National Fellowship Search Tool
Completing a scholarship application is simple, but doing it well is an art. Use the resources below to help with each phase of the application process.
The Personal Statement is a short piece of writing that gives you the chance to convey your passion and personality to the application reviewers: who are you, why do you want this fellowship, how will this opportunity prepare you for a future career, what distinguishes you from other applicants, and what do you have to contribute to the program itself. Dedicating significant time and thought into this portion of the application as well as being open to critical feedback from your fellowship advisor and writing coach will help create a final product that will successfully engage review committees who read hundreds of statements. It is highly recommended to review the resources below and to visit the Iowa State University Writing & Media Center for guidance.
- How to Write a High-Quality Scholarship Essay (Dr. Jonathan Wickert, Iowa State University)
- Writing the Personal Statement (by The Writing Lab, Purdue University)
- How to Write a Personal Statement: 6 Exercises to Conquer Writer's Block (Pro Fellow)
- Writing Scholarship Essays (by The Office of Nationally Competitive Scholarships, Kansas State University
Letters of Recommendation are another vital piece of your application. Depending on the award you're applying for, you may need anywhere from 2-8 recommenders. Below are some tips on selecting and coaching your references.
- Choose people who know you well. Impressive titles are nice, but if the reference has limited knowledge of you and can't provide any anecdotes and examples, the letter won't be as strong.
- Letters from high school teachers, peers, family friends, your minister, etc. do not carry as much weight as more recent and relevant contacts from university (or within the past two or three years).
- Read the instructions for letters of recommendation specific to the award you're applying for. Most awards will require at least one (if not all) academic references. Building faculty relationships is extremely important!
- Provide your refererence writers with adequate advance notice - typically 3-4 weeks is appropriate.
- Speak with your references - ideally in person - to ask if they would be willing to write a letter for you. If they are, follow up with written email instructions including: a draft of your application, your resume, links to the award you're applying for, and instructions for the letter including when you need it, how to submit it and specifics of anything you would like them to mention or emphasize.
- Be sure to write thank you notes to your recommenders and keep them abreast of any news about your results. They spent a lot of time and energy helping you apply for this award!
Interviews are a part of most fellowship application processes should you be fortunate enough to be selected as a finalist. Here are some helpful resources to help you prepare for one-on-one or committee interviews:
- Preparing for National Fellowship Interviews Handout
- Interviewing for National Fellowships (by Yale University Office of Fellowship Programs)
- Preparing for Fellowships Interviews (by Swarthmore College Office of Fellowships & Prizes)
- Sample Rhodes & Marshall Interview Questions
The Fellowships listed below require a campus-level nomination prior to applying at the national level. Campus committees comprised of experienced Iowa State University faculty and staff members have been formed to review applicants for these awards and are availabe to support selected campus nominees. For information on additional fellowship and scholarship opportunities, consult the Nationally Competitive Awards Directory.
Candidates should complete and submit the Application for Nationally Competitive Awards prior to the campus deadline for complete review.
|Fulbright||2nd Monday in September|
|Goldwater||3rd Monday in October|
|Truman||1st Monday in November|
|Udall||3rd Monday in November|
|Rhodes||1st Monday in August|
|Marshall||1st Monday in August|