Steps for Submitting a Competitive Scholarship Application
Wheaton College is committed to preparing our students for the rigorous pursuit of prestigious fellowships and scholarships.
Step 1: Complete application resource materials
Download your Personalized Application Materials Organizer and your Letter of Reference Information Sheet. Take the time to carefully fill out as much as you can on both forms and save to your computer. Both will definitely come in handy later in the application process!
Step 2: Review scholarship opportunities
Find the scholarships that fit best with your resume. Review and identify all opportunities that fit you and your personal goals. Visit each scholarship website and take careful notes - do they restrict applicants to a specific year of study (e.g. only sophomores?); do they have specific requirements (e.g., are they looking for research experience, extensive extracurricular activities, study abroad experiences?)
Step 3: Prepare a timeline
Sit down with a multi-year calendar (e.g, prepare one for sophomore year, one for junior year, one for senior year) and map out your opportunities of interest.
• Write scholarship name on application deadline
• Work "backwards" with task reminders to allow time to prepare, complete and submit application materials by the deadline
• If a scholarship/fellowship has a faculty advisor, contact them as soon as possible
• If you are applying for a "research" scholarship (e.g., Rhodes, Fulbright Research) make sure that you allow significant time in order to develop an in-depth and well-crafted research proposal. (Some suggest 3-6 months)
• All letters of recommendation would be requested at least two months before the due date.
• Transcripts should be requested at least 6 weeks before the deadline.
Step 4: Engage with your discipline!
Strong candidates are usually fully engaged in their discipline outside regular coursework. Spend time reading journals and understanding the latest areas of research.
Step 5: Submit your work
Consider submitting papers (and posters, if applicable) to on and off campus conferences. There are several advantages to submitting a paper to a conference:
• conferences provide you with the opportunity to network with others who share your interests
• a presented paper improves your cv and makes for a stronger scholarship (and grad school!) application.
• If your paper is not selected, you may receive feedback that can help you fine-tune future papers/research
Step 6: Download the Application and Related Materials
Most foundation websites have application materials available for download. Follow all instructions carefully. Be sure to note the deadline date and time. (It is heartbreaking to have an application turned down simply because it was received late.)
Step 7: Contact your Advisors and Referees
Letters of recommendation are important. Some recommend that, before you ask a Professor to write a letter, you ask her/him if they feel they can write you a strong recommendation. If so, give them your completed Letter of Reference Information Sheet and an information sheet with fellowship details. Also remember to
• Follow up with them to see if they have questions
• THANK THEM! A hand written thank you and update about your results is the nice (and polite!) thing to do.
Step 8: The Write Stuff
Essay - Expect that your essay will go through many rewrites. Use the Application Materials Organizer as a starting point, then review the specific goals of the fellowship. Now rewrite! Does the first paragraph grab the reader’s attention? Is the information regarding the technical aspects of your field of study or research accurate? Don’t forget to run it past your advisor or a faculty mentor!
Proposed Course of Study - If this is part of your application, be sure to provide a detailed description of your projected course of study along with research gals, methodology, results and a timeline for completing your project.
Personal Statement - Take this opportunity to stand out with a unique, coherent, succinct, personal statement. Experiences that have shaped your interest and defined your passions can highlight why you are a good fit for the fellowship.
Step 9: Request your transcripts
Transcripts and test scores should be obtained well in advance of the deadline and must be official documents. GRE scores are required by some foundations so make sure a test schedule doesn’t conflict with your deadline.
Step 10: Neatness DOES matter!
Because the application is the first document a judge sees, be sure to be professional, thorough and neat!