Office of External & Competitive Scholarship Advisement

Application Timeline

Designed for freshmans and sophmores, this timeline provides a year-by-year guide to applying for prestigious scholarship.

Freshman & Sophomore Years

Things you need to do during your freshman and sophomore years (and later on too!).

Get to know yourself. Now is the time for self-introspection and growth. Identify issues that interest you. All those extra-curricular activities on campus or in the community will be enjoyable only if you are passionate about them.

Get to know your campus. Get involved in as many campus activities as you can. Friends you make within these activities can introduce you to many more exciting opportunities that you would miss otherwise. Seek leadership roles within these activities.

Get to know your community. Participate in as many community service activities as you can work into your schedule.

Maintain a high GPA (Anything below 3.6 might put you out of contention).

For Goldwater scholars (science or engineering majors), get involved with a research group as early as you can. First term in your freshman year is not too early! The application process takes place during your sophomore or junior year. If you have not published your research by then, your chances are very slim.

Get involved in intramural or varsity athletics. (Especially for Rhodes scholars)

Above all, have fun. How do you define having fun? If you are not enjoying any of your activities you are involved in, then you are not having fun. It is time to pause, reflect, and regroup. Do not enroll in a dozen activities to make your resume look good. A meaningful contribution in a couple of areas is much better on your resume than membership in a dozen organizations with little or no activity. The scholarship committees are very good at recognizing that.

Junior Year

OK, you survived your freshman and sophomore years, and the dreams of doing big things are still alive and strong. As a junior these are the things you need to do:

Academic goals: As most of these scholarships are offered for students going to graduate school, this is the right time to start thinking of graduate school. Many of these scholarships like to see focused applicants. It is never too early to start preparing for grad school. Your junior year is certainly a good time to do that.

  • Start thinking about taking the GRE, the Graduate Records Examination. The GRE is to grad school what SAT is to undergraduate school. So prepare well and get it done early.
  • Determine subject areas within your major that interest you and think about possible areas for graduate research. (Note: graduate research is not a requirement for some of these awards. You may read for a bachelor’s degree with a Marshall or Rhodes scholarship. Applications are regarded more favorably if the applicant can identify an academic interest and describe why this field of study excites him or her.)
  • (Especially for Fulbright applicants) Make sure you have fulfilled the foreign language requirements. If not, now is a good time to take those classes.

Destination: Determine the university, department, and professor you wish to study under and be able to justify why this is the right place for you. (Note: You may find it useful to correspond in writing with professors/universities that offer programs that interest you. As a result, you can justify your selection of a university and academic program in your application).

Career goals: Set goals priorities and milestones for yourself. Remember that some scholarships like Truman require specific career plans.

Scholarship applications:

  • Apply for Truman or Goldwater scholarships if you qualify. The application process tends to be long and tedious, but very introspective and rewarding. Applicants have always enjoyed the process of applying for the scholarship, regardless of the outcome. You will need a mentor to work closely with you. Many Truman applicants sign up for a reading course with their mentor in order to prepare a good application.
  • Most of the scholarships you would apply for in your senior year have deadlines in early October. They all require serious thought and contemplation, and will take up a significant amount of your time. So, preparation for these scholarships must start during the latter part of your junior year.

Senior Year

Moving on to your senior year. This is where the action is! These are the things you need to do at the beginning of the senior year.

Finalize Your Application

  • Complete the application. (If you started the preparation in your junior year, as you should have, this is the easy part). Double check to make sure you have filled every single column as comprehensively as you can.
  • Select your references and contact them early in your senior year. Provide them with all relevant information to write an affective letter on your behalf.
  • Obtain a copy of your transcript and make additional copies if necessary.
  • Keep in constant contact with the Dr. Jay regarding deadlines.

Interview Preparation

The exhilarating moment arrives when you find out that you are a finalist and invited for an interview. These are a few tips for a successful interview.

Develop oral communication/articulation skills. This can be done in various ways.

  • Take a speech communications course
  • Read good books to improve your vocabulary. Reading also helps you with ideas for a good conversation.
  • Participate in current events’ discussions/debates. If you don’t find such a group, create one.
  • Arrange for mock interviews. Your friends, your mentor, and the Dr. Jay can help you out here.

Cultivate your knowledge of current world affairs as well as your knowledge of federal, state, and local affairs. Here are a few thoughts on this one:

  • Read a daily national newspaper. If you are not already doing so, start right away.
  • Participate in current events discussions/debates
  • Fit in a Contemporary history course in your GEP.

Largely based on a similar booklet by Stephen H. Wainscott and Judith L. Wilkinson of Clemson University.