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Office For Student Success

Getting Started: Where to Begin?

Applying for prestigious scholarships and fellowships can be intimidating and overwhelming. Don't let it be! This page provides an overview of where to begin and summarizes the most common application components. Pace University offers resources to help you prepare your application. Use them to your advantage!

Where to begin?

Start by getting acquainted with the array of scholarships available. You should review the national and international scholarship listings on the Prestigious Fellowships website. Pay close attention to mission statements, objectives, ideal candidate profiles, and eligibility requirements. Once you have identified the scholarships and fellowshps that interest you, remember some will require you to submit your application through Pace, while others must be sent directly to the scholarship organization.

Avoid Common Pitfalls. Do not limit your scholarship search to those for which you are currently eligible. Plan ahead for those you would like to apply for in the future. This is true regardless of your class year. To learn more, check out "The Four Year Plan" webpage. It is NEVER TOO EARLY to start!

Check out our Fact Sheet!

Download the Prestigious Awards, Grants, Fellowships, and Scholarships Information.

For more information about specific nationally-recognized awards and scholarships, click here!

Application Components

Application procedures (and supporting documents) vary by scholarship/fellowship. Below is a list of general requirements:

Official Transcript

Transcripts are available from the Office of Student Assistance. Be sure to order transcripts well in advance of the deadline. Fellowship applications typically require you to submit official transcripts that are certified by the Registrar. In some instances, you are asked to upload an electronic PDF copy of your transcript. If you have taken courses at other universities in the summer or as a transfer student, you will need a transcript from each institution attended.

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Letters of Recommendation

Strong letters of recommendation are a critical part of any prestigious fellowship or scholarship application. Letters of recommendation should be the outgrowth of a relationship established over a period of time. It is important to start on this early in your college career. It is often difficult to "get to know" faculty or other mentors, yet it can be done if students make the effort. Developing a relationship that can lead to a useful letter of recommendation is up to the student. Keep the following in mind as you contemplate references:

  • Be strategic. You should select your references carefully, and contemplate how each referee will portray you as a student, community leader, professional and scholar. Select referees who can address various aspects of your identity, professional/ academic skills and traits, achievements, future career goals, project feasibility, and potential to serve as a model fellowship/scholarship recipient.
  • Ask for references from people who have some knowledge of your field, research interests, and host country (if applicable).
  • It may not always be possible to include all three references from professors or other field specialists.

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Essays: Personal Statement and Research Project Proposals

There is no single "right way" to approach the essays required for prestigious fellowships/scholarships; rather each candidate will consider what they think is important for people reviewing the application to know about them. The two most common essays are: the Personal Statement and Research Project Proposals.

The Personal Statement should be a narrative painting a portrait of you as an individual. This means you are tasked with synthesizing your life experiences, personal history, and family background, influences on your intellectual development, the education and cultural opportunities (or lack of them) to which you have been exposed, and the ways in which these experiences have affected you. It is an autobiography, specifically related to you and your aspiration, and must be clear, cohesive, and persuasive in nature.

Personal Statement Resources to consult:

  • Writing the Personal Statement, Purdue Online Writing Lab
  • Definition of a Personal Statement, Mary Tolar (best advice for nationally competitive fellowships)

The Research Project Proposal Developing a strong, feasible and compelling project is the most important aspect of a successful Fulbright application. Your first step should be to familiarize yourself with the program summary for the country to which you wish to apply. The program design varies somewhat from country to country; some countries encourage applicants to incorporate coursework into a project, while others prefer independent research. Ensure that your project design fits the program guidelines for your host country. It is important that you have adequate formal training for the study that you wish to pursue and that your language skills be commensurate with the requirements of the project.

Research Project Proposal Resources to consult:

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A select number of prestigious scholarships and fellowships will require you to participate in a telephone or in-person interview. The formality and length of the interview varies according to each scholarship foundation. Prestigious scholarship and fellowship interviews commonly explore the limits of your knowledge as well as your communication and critical thinking skills. It is important to review your application, and brainstorm a list of potential questions that you think might be asked. If selected for an interview, the Coordinator of Prestigious Fellowships will conduct a mock interview to help you prepare.

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A professional and academic resume is often required for most prestigious scholarships and fellowships. Your resume should list your activities, research papers, awards/honors, presentations/publications, and leadership experiences. In most instances, your resume should be confined to one page, but depending upon the application requirements it can be longer. Your resume should be tailored towards the goals and characteristics of the particular fellowship/ scholarship. Please note that you do not need to cite every activity in which you have ever taken part. Instead focus on providing information about your most central experiences, commitments and achievements.

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Final Tips

Multiple drafts of your scholarship/fellowship essays are the norm! Editing and revising are essential to the process. The average is 10-20 drafts before a final draft is produced.

Your application will be reviewed against hundreds of applicants. It is critical that we ensure you are conveying the impression you intend, speaking to your academic/ professional qualifications, and more. Consult with as many people as possible as you put together your application package. A strong application will stand out from the crowd, and will impress a variety of people.

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