FAQ

What are National and International Scholarships/Fellowships?

Money granted by national and international foundations that is available to help you:

  • finance your education here at Puget Sound
  • finance travel/study/teaching opportunities abroad during or after your studies at Puget Sound
  • finance graduate school

Many of these programs are the most prestigious academic awards available to undergraduate and graduate students.

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What's the difference between a scholarship and a fellowship?

It just depends on what the foundation offering the money chooses to call it. To be a Rhodes Scholar or Fulbright Fellow, for example, indicates that you have been selected for financial support because of the high caliber of your demonstrated academic and co-curricular achievements.

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Who's eligible for this money?

You are! Nearly everyone will find at least one and probably several awards for which they are eligible and in which they are interested.

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Does it matter what your major is?

No! There are awards available for most every major, but some will specify preferences or exclusions, so check carefully.

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Does it matter what career path you think you might choose?

No! There are awards available for most career objectives, too. Some awards do specify preferred or exclusive career objectives, so again look carefully.

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How important is my GPA?

That depends somewhat on the individual scholarship, but it's usually quite important to have at least a 3.5; much higher for some such as British Marshall and Rhodes Scholar (3.9).  Extracurricular activities, research, internships, volunteerism, and paid or unpaid work  are very important components of your application.

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How important are extracurricular activities and sports?

That depends upon the scholarship. For some, these items are fairly unimportant. For others, they can play a major role. Check with the individual application materials and/or see the Fellowships Director. However, if you think you fit the description of a candidate with one or two minor exceptions, check before you self-exclude!

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What's the first thing I should do?

Think carefully about your goals. Once you've decided which awards would further your goals and which you might be eligible for, visit the website for that scholarship and read further. Most  applications are now available for downloading and printing your own copy. Read through the application materials carefully, writing down any questions you may have. Talk with your faculty adviser or the faculty member with whom you are working on a research or creative project about your goals and your interest in fellowship applications.

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What should I do next?

Next, schedule an appointment with Sharon Chambers-Gordon, Director, Fellowships Office, Howarth 114J, to discuss any questions you may have. She will provide guidance and advice thoughout the application process. Send her dates and times you are available and she will confirm an appointment. There are faculty designates for individual scholarship(s) who are available to help you as well.

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Is there anything else I should be doing at this time?

Yes! Gather together the following materials:

  • Update your resume and read Strategies for Students: How to Apply for a Scholarship, for more information.
  • Request required transcripts (from Puget Sound, study abroad, sometimes high school, and any other schools attended).
  • Ask professors and/or employers for the required number of reference letters. Choose letter-writers carefully! Provide them with specific criteria letters need to address. Ask them to send completed letters to the address listed on the application form or for university institutional-nominated scholarships, return them in sealed envelopes to you, or send them to Sharon Chambers-Gordon (CMB 1065) well before the campus deadline.
  • If photographs are required, get those (make an appointment with the university photographer who may be able to take the photographs.
  • If letters of affiliation are required (Fulbright, Gates Cambridge, Mitchell), start working on those by contacting overseas institutions.

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When should I start working on the application?

Now! It is never too early to start. Most applications are very time-consuming. They cannot be done well without many edits; there must not be any typos, misspelling or grammatical errors. You will need to gather letters of recommendation; transcripts; and sometimes photos, samples of your work, high school transcripts, etc. Preparing seriously for several fellowship programs, and being successful, may take as much effort as completing an academic course at the university. The rewards are worth the effort.

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What about the essays?

The essays are generally considered the most time-consuming part of the application, and they are usually the most important (along with the letters of recommendation), so allow yourself plenty of time to work on them, create rough drafts, revise, revise, and revise again! Work on these drafts with your professors, with the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching as well as the Fellowships Director and the faculty designate for the individual scholarship(s).

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What should I include in my essays?

The first thing you should do is look closely at the wording of the actual question posed to you! Realize that the committee or board that put together this application form spent a lot of time formulating the questions. Each word is included in each question for a reason. Speak directly to the question posed. Be sure to answer all parts of it.

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What types of essays might I be asked to write?

If you are asked to write a proposal, write it like a newspaper article. Tell what, where, when, how, why, how much, etc. The more information you can put into your proposal, the more attractive you should look as an applicant. If you can include specifics about where you want to go, where you will live while there, how you will conduct your research/studies, who in your host country will help you in your endeavor, what other resources will be available to you while you're there, how much you expect the endeavor to cost, what your itinerary will look like, how you expect your experience will enhance your life, etc., you will be viewed as a much more serious candidate than someone who simply says: "I'd like to go to Germany because I've studied some German, I'm of German origin, and I think it would be really fulfilling to live there for a year. This would really help me figure out what I want to do next with my life."

If you are asked to write about yourself, a "personal statement", this is your opportunity to be a little more "creative" than you might be in the other essays. The most important point here is to make yourself stand out, make yourself interesting, and talk about the experiences you have had that have led you to this place in your life where you have this burning desire to do whatever it is you're proposing.

Note: It can be particularly useful, while writing and revising these essays, to work with Julie Christoph, Director of the Center for Writing, Learning, and Teaching,  Professor Grace Livingston, and professors you have asked to write letters for you, or who have been asked by the Fellowships office to assist you.

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Should I type the application and essays?

Yes!

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How important, really, is neatness?

Much more important than you might think! Some committees will disqualify your application if it is illegible after being photocopied, and some even care where you put the staple!

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Is there anything specific I should know about getting letters of reference from professors or employers?

Keep several things in mind:

  • Ask early! Everyone is just as busy as you are, and you are usually not the only one asking for a letter. If you want a good, thoughtful appraisal of your character and abilities, give your writer ample time to work on the letter.
  • Provide your letter writers with as much information about yourself as you possibly can. Committees want to see that your letter writers know you, in class and outside of class if possible. You may provide your writers with:
    • a summary of the award for which you are applying; what the criteria are, what the scholarship will be used for, etc.
    • an unofficial copy of your transcript
    • a resume
    • a list of your extracurricular activities, volunteer work, sports, honors won, offices held, etc.
    • copies of essays you have written for the application, especially proposals and personal statement.
    • the more the writer knows about both you and your proposed application, the better the letter will be. Selection committees rely heavily upon letters of recommendation. A letter that includes specifics about the letter writers interactions with and observations of you will be far more influential than one that just indicates that you've received good grades or repeats what you may have included on the application.

Note: It is important for you to cultivate associations with professors outside the classroom.

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What about due dates?

Most committees are very strict about not accepting applications past the posted due date. Deadlines are of paramount importance. If there is a campus deadline, the application and all supporting materials are due in Howarth 11J by NOON on the deadline date. Materials submitted for campus deadlines should  be as complete and professional as you would submit to an external review committee.

If necessary, the Graduate Fellowship Advisory Committee (GFAC) will review your application, interview you and give you feedback. Those applications are reviewed and outstanding applications are then nominated to be forwarded to the national foundations/organizations. You will continue to make finishing touches to the application with the Fellowships Director and Faculty Representative until you have a polished document. For institutionally-nominated scholarships, you will turn in the final copy and all supporting materials to the Fellowships Office well before the deadline. The nomination letter will be written and the completed application mailed to the foundation or organization which will judge it.

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Will there be an interview?

For select applications, yes, there are.  The Fellowships Director will assist you in preparation for both on-campus and off-campus interviews.

If you have further questions, don't hesitate to ask the Fellowships Office.

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