General Advice for Applicants
Register for challenging classes. Good grades are necessary for scholarship success, but the best students seek more than the grade and push themselves intellectually in ALL courses (not just those in one's major).
Strengthen your communication skills. Many scholarships require essays and interviews. Take courses that allow you to develop these skills and to learn how to construct effective arguments, both orally and in writing.
Get experience in your field of study. Start looking for work, internships, and volunteer opportunities in your field beginning in your freshman year, and use every summer productively.
Make time for volunteering and public service. Identify the issues that you care most about — such as improving public health or renewable energy sources — and focus your service work on these areas.
Expand your knowledge of global issues. Enrich your perspectives on people, places and events around the world by reading respected newspapers and books (beyond those assigned in your classes). Take advantage of any travel and study abroad opportunities, participate in intercultural events, and attend lectures to hear new perspectives.
Involve yourself in extracurricular activities. Choose ones that are meaningful to you. Keep in mind that there are no formulas for the “best” activities—what you do with them is much more important.
Seek out leadership positions. This does not necessarily mean holding offices in a dozen different clubs: it means becoming an active participant in organizations that are meaningful to you. Or consider starting your own organization if you see an unfilled need on campus or in the larger community.
Seek out opportunities for undergraduate research. This may take different forms with different majors, but it will help you prepare for your academic future and complement your classroom experience.
Get to know your professors, advisers and employers. Give them the opportunity to share opportunities and insights with you. They will be able to write more effective letters of recommendation for you, and you will gain the chance to discover valuable information about their professional lives.
Summon up the courage to compete for prestigious fellowships. If you believe that you can compete well, why not take the next step and commit to the application process. Even if you do not win an award, consider what you can gain from applying: not only will you forge strong relationships with faculty and other mentors, you will also be thinking critically about the kind of work that you will pursue beyond your undergraduate education.