Dean of Academic Life
Whether or not you’re awarded a scholarship, you’ll gain a better sense of yourself. Think of the scholarship as the means and not the end. In this process, you’ll write a personal essay that asks you to reflect about who you are. Such a reflection--a synthesis of all things you’ve become, those parts of you that make you who you are—sticks with you and will make you surer of where you want to go from here.
Of course if you win the award, then there’s money to realize some of your educational dreams, but the real force is knowing who you are. The scholarship application asks this of you.
Competitive scholarships are typically awarded to applicants in the top 10-20 % of their class, with a GPA of 3.5 and above—those students are likely to gain admittance to high-ranking graduate programs.
Committees look beyond academic performance to the applicants’ positive contributions to the community: public service and volunteerism, leadership roles in campus and community, extracurricular involvement, and research.
Foundations tell us over and over that the vital dimension of any successful application is the carefully crafted personal statement, virtually an intellectual autobiography, that shows careful thought and intellectual and personal maturity. You need, through carefully chosen examples and precise diction, to present yourself on paper in a way that captures the reader’s attention and makes the reader want to know more. You needn’t have had exotic experiences - although that helps - but you must be able to speak sincerely and persuasively about experiences important to you. You must show yourself to be a passionate learner with a restless curiosity. You must show how past and present experiences lead to plans for future study and work. These statements become the basis for any other applications to foundations and graduate or professional schools. The process of self-discovery is great fun. Professor Alec Marsh will work with you in his writing workshop held each fall.
Start early. Your best strategy is to start the application process, including deciding which awards you want to apply for, at least two years in advance.
Contact Dr. Carol Shiner Wilson or the campus advisor for the awards you select. They will help guide you through the application process.
The key component of most applications is the personal statement or autobiographical essay. Begin early to consider what aspects of yourself you want to share in this statement, and how you want to share them. The personal statement will answer these question:
- Who am I?
- Who do I want to be?
- What kind of contribution do I want to make, and how?
- Why does it make sense for me to study at . . . ?
The goal is to capture the readers’ attentions, to make them want to meet you for an interview.