Although you have just arrived at Ohio Wesleyan, it’s not too early to think about applying for fellowships and grants. The aphorism, “Begin with the end in mind” certainly applies here. This year:
- Earn stellar grades. You will be competing with students from across the country and, in some instances, from around the world to win a grant. A minimum GPA of 3.7 is necessary for a competitive application.
- Develop superior writing skills. Much of your potential success in obtaining a scholarship is dependent upon an essay.
- Pursue foreign language study for at least two years. More is better. Many grants are available for students who want to study abroad for a year or more.
- Participate in extracurricular activities. Scholarship organizations seek students who offer more than just academic prowess. Take part in varsity sports, student government, or community service groups. Use your school breaks to spend some time volunteering as a tutor, working in a local soup kitchen, or becoming active with organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.
- Establish relationships with your professors. They will be the ones who will write your letters of recommendation.
- Finally, become familiar with the various scholarships and grants listed elsewhere on these pages.
This is the year in which you focus your studies and determine a major. Spend time talking to your academic advisor and favorite professors. Invite them for conversation over a cup of coffee. For the price of a beverage, your horizons will expand and your professor will learn more about you—and that’s one of the best bargains you’ll encounter during college. In addition:
- Evaluate your extracurricular activities and community service. Are they especially relevant to your area of interest? It’s better to do a few things well than you take part in every activity you can fit into your schedule.
- Consider an internship. Internships that complement your goals will enhance your application for grants and your acceptance into the graduate school of your choice.
- Determine if there are grants for undergraduate study that would be appropriate for you to apply. Even if your application is unsuccessful, the experience will improve subsequent applications.
The effort you expended during your first two years at Ohio Wesleyan now begins to bear fruit as you put your experiences into perspective. Those who are competing for undergraduate grants must complete their applications during the first semester. To be competitive for most post-graduate awards (e.g., Fulbright or Marshall), preparation must begin during the second semester of the junior year.* Since these organizations draw applications from the best students in the country, put forth the effort necessary to achieve success. This year:
- Search for appropriate scholarships. Most students prepare applications for several fellowships with the hope of receiving one.
- Attend campus seminars that provide overviews of the various scholarships that are available and cover such topics as developing goals, preparing proposals, and writing personal essays.
- Ask professors to write letters for you. This is the time when getting to know your professors pays big dividends.
- Be prepared to write—and write some more. Writing applications is a time-consuming process, one that requires seemingly endless revision. At times the effort will seem overwhelming, but perseverance will pay off in the end, either in a receiving prestigious grant, or improved graduate school applications and greater self-knowledge.
While most of the work preparing applications takes place during the junior year, the senior year requires organization to bring all your hard work to its conclusion This year:
- Keep deadlines in mind. Each fellowship has its own submission date.
- Take the GRE or other exams so you can complete graduate school applications.
- Finish your grant applications.
- Check in with professors who are writing recommendations. Tactfully remind them of the dates when letters are due and whether they should be submitted online or in hard copy.
- Notify the fellowship organization when you have been accepted to graduate school.
Note: If you are studying abroad, keep in contact with the Director of Post-Graduate Fellowships; you should plan on completing much of the work during the summer.