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Application Resources

Personal Statements

The specific application requirements vary depending on the scholarship or fellowship you intend to apply for. However, most do require a personal statement or essay describing you as a student and why you are applying for that specific scholarship. Most personal statements are concise; many are limited to between 500 and 1,000 words. Therefore, it is imperative that you are both concise and original. Well-written personal essays grab the readers’ attention and offer a coherent picture of the applicant. We suggest students begin the personal statement early so that it can be edited and shortened as necessary. Expect to spend many hours and many drafts on this important part of the application.

Before you begin writing your personal statement, be sure you understand the specific questions asked by your intended scholarship. If you have trouble beginning your personal statement, find assistance in a campus writing center in tutoring services, or your professors are great resources. The NCS office also offers assistance in reviewing your application.*

Additional writing resources for your personal statement are available on the following sites:


Research Proposals

Some scholarships and fellowships may also require a project or research proposal to be written as a part of your application. Usually these proposals are a short explanation (1-2 pages) of the project you plan to complete during the tenure of the fellowship. Your proposal must be succinct, accurately describe your vision for the project, and address how your specific research project reflects the charge of the scholarship. Lastly, be sure to address all of the requirements expected by the fellowship in your proposal.

*Do note that for certain scholarships (i.e., the Rhodes and the Mitchell), you are required to certify that you have not received any feedback or help with your personal statement; therefore, neither the NCS office nor your professors can offer you any assistance on personal statements for these two scholarships. Again, be sure to carefully read the requirements of the scholarship and seek out help from the NCS office early in the application process.

Make yourself a strong competitor

While there is no formula that determines the “best candidate,” most successful candidates exceed in academics, have leadership experience, and are involved in their community. Other attributes these scholarships look for include:

  • extensive experience in research
  • conference presentations
  • experience developing and/or presenting a thesis
  • internship experience
  • demonstrated leadership abilities
  • commitment to the community via public service projects and opportunities

Lastly, students should be able to articulate a future plan that establishes their goals over the course of the next few years. Students must also be able to provide credible references who can expound upon and corroborate the student’s academic, leadership, and community service achievements.

Steps to strengthening your application

  • Prepare early in your college career
  • Pursue an academically challenging curriculum
  • Maintain a high GPA
  • Take on leadership roles within your school and community
  • Be involved with service projects in your community
  • Actively participate in undergraduate or graduate research
  • Participate in summer internships and/or Study Abroad programs
  • Become familiar with the current affairs and leaders in your chosen field of study
  • Talk to your professors; ask for advice
  • Seek out and make an appointment with the Student Research and Scholarship office

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