The process of applying to prestigious fellowships and scholarships is more than an opportunity to gain funding to further your education. Indeed, completing the application in and of itself is a great way to develop your personal and professional skills.
To gain perspective on some of the benefits one can get from the act of applying to prestigious fellowships/scholarships, we interviewed Leondre Ramsay, Howard University’s 2017 Luard Morse Scholarship recipient.
Below are three reasons we think applicants should focus more on the application process than the end result of becoming a recipient or semi-finalist:
- “Know Thyself” (aka) Identify Your Goals with Specificity
The level of self-reflection required to create accurate and persuasive personal statements can sometimes take a back burner to the rigors of academic life. Applying to a prestigious fellowship/scholarship tends to kick start this reflective process for most students. Particularly, if you let your application reflect who you truly are.
Leondre notes, “…writing the essays was primarily an introspective process… [I] genuinely examined my own motivations for studying abroad as well as why the UK [would be] the best place to do so…” Of course, this is a skill you can build on your own, but why not develop it while competing for funding to pursue your independently-designed project or advance academic study?
If you take the time to reflect upon what it is that most speaks to who you are and most nourishes you in your various activities and pursuits, you will be able to clarify your direction in life, and reveal the steps you should follow to achieve your goals.
- Develop Your Written and Verbal Communication Skills
Your personal essays and research proposals both provide opportunities for you to develop your written communication skills. Working with Howard University’s Office of Honors and Scholar Development (OHSD) to improve your essays for submission tend to have positive effects on your writing. Additionally, the selection process for prestigious national fellowships normally involves interviews for finalists. The verbal communications skills you stand to gain from preparing for the interview will help equip you to speak effectively about your ideas and goals.
- Expand Your Mental Horizon
“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” ~Albert Einstein
One of the greatest benefits you can gain from your undergraduate college experience is an expanded mental outlook. A way to accomplish this is by being open to various opportunities that would take you outside of your comfort zone. One such option is international travel/study abroad.
As Leondre notes, “studying abroad is a great [way] for us to interact with the world that exists beyond our own borders.” Many prestigious fellowships, including the Luard Morse Scholarship, offer funding to study outside of your home country. However, expanding your mental horizon occurs as early as when you begin considering options that move you outside of our comfort zone – like study abroad – and weave them into your personal narrative. Just believing you can is beneficial.
So, the next time you think about applying to a prestigious fellowship or scholarship opportunity, but are deterred by the fear of not becoming a recipient or finalist, think about how much who stand to gain from the process and dive in!
As Leondre said, “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t shoot…. Uncertainty can’t become a barrier for us to avoid opportunities.”
Well said, Leondre.