What are Fellowships and Scholarships?
Fellowships, scholarships and grants are generally financial awards for study and research beyond the baccalaureate degree. These can be awarded by private organizations, by academic department, or by institution.
Success in finding awards is usually a function of being an outstanding student, providing evidence of leadership experience, contributing to the welfare of your community and having excellent letters of recommendation. Persistence, determination, and thoroughness will enhance your search. Luck and timing can also play a vital role.
Your research should begin at least one year prior to the time you plan to submit an award application. Meet with the advisor for the award, and talk with other faculty. Many deadlines will be in the fall for grants awarded the following spring or next academic year. So, start your search well in advance!
Generally you will need to obtain the grant information and criteria as well as an application. You will need to collect or prepare letters of recommendation (usually three), official or unofficial copies of your transcript, a list of honors and activities (sometimes a resume is required), and a personal essay or curriculum vita.
Decide which of your qualities to emphasize. What weaknesses must be turned to your advantage? What have you not done that your record indicates that you should have? Use this information to identify appropriate fellowships, create an effective essay and prepare for an oral interview. Weave your strengths, the specific criteria of the award, and letters of reference into a solid presentation.
This may be a personal statement, proposal of study/research, or both. Remember: the essay often is the deciding factor in who is invited to interview.
- Present personal reflections in your essay. Show how significant experiences are tied together.
- Have a firm idea of the connections you need to make among the different elements of your experience. Relate these to the fellowship criteria.
- Talk to insiders. These are the individuals who advise on the particular grant, faculty members in the related area, and former fellows or recipients of the award. Learn about the grand criteria. List aspects of your experience or achievements that relate.
- Be direct; get to the point. Be specific and demonstrate ideas with examples. The essay is usually short - about 1,000 words.
Prepare yourself to talk about every aspect of the essay in an interview. Do not include something that you cannot elaborate on in an interview.
Ask two or three professors to read and critique your essay. Write at least three drafts and have someone proofread the final draft.
Selection committees examine these to flesh out the details of your application and worthiness. Choose your references carefully. Usually they are your faculty advisors or your professors. Talk with these advisors - do they feel they can write a supportive letter? Can they comment on what you want to reflect in your application package? Prepare a packet of information for these references including: a list of your honors and activities, a copy of your transcript, class papers you completed for them, information about the award, and a copy of your proposal for study or research.
To obtain information about the kinds of services Chapman provides in assisting students who wish to explore and pursue fellowships and scholarships, please contact Dr. Eileen Jankowski, Director of Fellowship & Scholar Programs at (714) 744-7661 and firstname.lastname@example.org
. Her office is located in Wilkinson Hall 214.
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