Letters of Recommendation
- Ask early.
- Ask someone who actually knows you - not someone who you think will sound impressive.
- Don't just ask recommenders if they will write you a recommendation - ask them if they will be willing to write a good recommendation.
- Provide your recommenders with the full details of the scholarship opportunity.
- Show your recommenders any relevant personal statements of grant proposals - this will help them address your suitability for the award.
- If the application is done online, make sure your recommender knows how to submit the application.
- If the application is done through the mail, provide an addressed, stamped envelope.
- Always follow up with a thank you note!
- For more advice, read this excellent article in the Chronicle of Higher Education.
Most nationally competitive awards opportunities will require you to write a personal statement of some sort. Students often find these to be surprisingly difficult, as the style of a personal statement does not generally match the style of an academic paper. Instead, a personal statement should be a reflection of who you are. A few things to keep in mind:
- A personal statement is not an academic paper about you, but it isn't a journal entry, either. Be careful to walk the line between personable and appropriate.
- Use your personal statement as an opportunity to explore your values, goals, and motivations. Think of this as the story that might link all the steps on your resume.
- When appropriate, be sure to link the opportunities that the award will provide with your goals. Foundations want to give awards to students who will benefit from them - it's up to you to make those connections.
- The writing matters. You don't have to be a poet, but you should write with clear sentences. If a committee can't understand your story, you won't get any credit for it.
- Worried about your writing? Feeling overwhelmed by starting a personal statement? Still not even sure what a personal statement is? Contact the National Scholarship Office for an individual appointment today. We are here to help!
- Purdue OWL - Purdue's Online Writing Lab offers over 200 free resources, including writing and teaching writing, grammar and mechanics, style guides, and professional writing. Tips for all stages of the writing process can be found here.
- Writing Personal Statements Online - This is the go-to for personal statements. Joe Schall takes you through all aspects of the personal statement, from explaining what a personal statement is to covering how to write for specific national scholarships and awards.
- FSU Diversity and Inclusion of Underrepresented Populations in Fellowships - FSU has compiled this excellent database of awards for students from underrepresented identities. This list includes awards for ethnic and racial minorities, LGBTQ+ individuals, women, individuals of differing abilities, veterans, those from non-traditional family backgrounds, and those of non-US citizenship and other nationalities.
- Institute of International Education - The IIE, which administers many study abroad scholarship programs, including the Fulbright, the Gilman, and the Boren, also maintains a website with several helpful resources on study abroad.
Resources at Georgia College & State University
- Academic Advising - Students who want to be competitive for national scholarships are advised to select classes that will challenge them. Work with your advisor to select classes that are appropriate to your academic plan of study, and that will help you grow as a scholar and as an individual.
- Career Center - The Career Center is your on campus resource for resumes, interview preparation, and many other career development skills.
- Office of Community Engagement & Service - The Office of Community Engagement & Service connects GCSU students with their community, facilitating volunteer and service opportunities. Volunteering is a great way to develop professional skills as well as communication skills, and also to develop as a leader.
- GCSU Library - GCSU librarians can assist applicants with identifying appropriate sources for applications that require research. GCSU librarians can also assist applicants with conducting research towards identifying affiliation institutions abroad for Fulbright applications.
- Leadership Programs- Leadership Programs at GCSU offers several avenues through which students can develop highly valued leadership skills that are crucial in careers as well as national scholarship competitions. In particular, the year-long Leadership Certificate Program provides students with a structured path towards gaining these leadership skills.
- Mentored Undergraduate Research and Creative Endeavors - Undergraduate research is one of the best things you can do to not only make yourself competitive for national awards, but also to develop as a scholar and as an individual. Mentored undergraduate research allows students to work closely with faculty members while developing critical problem solving skills, as well as professional communication skills. MURACE at GCSU provides students with the opportunity to present their research at conferences, publish their research in publications such as The Peacock's Feet and the Corinthian, and also to apply for research and travel grants.
- Registrar's Office - Many scholarship opportunities require that you request transcripts. Learn more about how to do this at the registrar's office website.
- Study Abroad - Many nationally competitive awards fund study abroad. If you study abroad as a student, you will want to work with our study abroad office on filling out all necessary paperwork for GCSU. Studying or researching in another country can also make you more competitive for national awards, as these experiences help you gain critical skills.