Advice for Applicants

Style for Students is an excellent guide for those crafting applications by Juniata alum Joe Schall.

By Cathleen Hewlett, Goldwater Fellow

  • JUST APPLY! There is nothing to lose by not receiving an award and so much to gain if you do. I didn't win the first time I applied, but I did it again and won. Don't talk yourself out of it. It is just pointless to say 'I am not good enough' or "I am not smart enough.' Obviously you are because otherwise the faculty wouldn't have asked you to try. Contrary to popular opinion, they do not purposely try to make you fall lower than dirt. Stop whining and just do it.
  • Find a brutal reviewer to look over your work multiple times! I wrote 27 drafts for my Goldwater application! My reviewer was so hard on the work that I almost cried a few times, but I won. He wouldn't let me stop until it was good enough. Find someone (who really knows what you are talking about) who will rip your work to shreds.

By Scott Kofmehl, Pickering Fellow

  • Prepare in advance During your freshman and sophomore years and think about what it would take to apply for and earn certain scholarships and fellowships. Understand the requirements and the typical experiences of the scholarship and fellowship winners. Read the application. However, do not tailor your college career for a certain application. While it is good and necessary to prepare for your future, do not do anything (e.g. more community service) just because you think it will look good on an application.
  • Seek help. There are many professors and administrators that will help you apply for scholarships. However, you must be active. You must seek the help. Professors and administrators, like you, are very busy, but they are willing to assist motivated students. I can name 15 people that helped me with one scholarship application.
  • Start writing early. Start looking at scholarship applications as soon as they are available. Familiarize yourself with the application, and start brainstorming ideas. I revised one scholarship essay over 20 times. For others, I only needed 3 or 4 revisions, but that is after much practice.
  • Write often. Set aside time every week to write. Make a plan, set deadlines, and try as much as you can to stick to a timeline. Give professors and administrators plenty of time (at least one month) to complete recommendations.
  • Get help from professors that you might not know very well. While it is important for you receive help from a close advisor, look to other professors for help. This is especially true regarding practicing for an interview. Do mock interviews with people that you do not know. This is not easy, but it is valuable.
  • Contact former applicants. Talk with people that have gone through the process. Email alumni, meet with current students, talk to faculty, and be active in asking questions about what these former applicants saw as keys to earning a scholarship. People want to help, but you must ask for it.
  • Schedule time for the application process If possible, reduce your course load for the semester in which you will be applying for scholarships and fellowships. Seniors especially, realize that you will have so many people and activities competing for your time. Schedule time in your calendar to work on these applications. If you are applying for one or two scholarships, the time commitment could be equal to a three-credit course.