HOW TO APPLY
In most instances when you select a scholarship you would like to apply for, contact the organization funding the scholarship directly. Do this well in advance of the deadline. If available, use the organization’s web site for the latest information. In most cases you can download a current application from the site or even apply online. Most scholarships will require the following:
- application form
- personal statement
- a curriculum vitae or resume
- letters of recommendation
- financial statement (for need-based awards)
In some cases you may have to include research projects you plan to pursue. You may also be invited to an interview as part of the application process. If you need assistance with the personal statement, you may seek help from your departmental advisers or the Reading/Writing Center, at Thomas Hunter, Room #420.
There is no easy way to win a scholarship, grant or fellowship, but thoughtful preparation can make the process less daunting and your chances of success more likely. Hunter has organized a team of fellowship advisers to help you with the application process. You should be encouraged by the fact that Hunter students have consistently won a generous share of these fellowships in the past.
There will be informational meetings about fellowships in the fall and spring. Look for notices in the e-mail bulletin, posted around campus and the Office of Student Services. As you begin thinking about these awards, consider the following:
1. Inform yourself about the qualifications necessary for each fellowship. Read this Guide and use the web thoroughly. Most scholarship sources have their own websites. This is your starting point to find out the criteria for eligibility. Other sources will be the grants office. If you are eligible (subject matter, gender, national origin, age, GPA, etc.) then check deadlines and also what is requested.
2. It has been said that even with outstanding credentials what often differentiates an application is not just what you have done so far, but how well you can articulate what you intend to do in the future and how the fellowship will enable you to pursue those goals. Expect to write a letter or personal statement and to submit a transcript and often a resume. Review your letter or personal statement and resume for grammar, punctuation and format. Plan carefully the proposal, essay or prospectus; you will be required to submit as part of the application process. Develop preliminary drafts as soon as possible and have them ready for review well before deadlines. For a few of the awards, we require that you present a draft of your statement before beginning the application process. Use this time to have faculty, friends and advisers help you.
3. If you are considering graduate study, think seriously about where you would like to study and why. Discuss possibilities with faculty members, both those who know you well and those who are familiar with areas of study, universities and countries of interest to you. Identify opportunities suited to you and your goals.
4. Consider who can write the strongest possible recommendations for you. Talk with those persons about your future plans and goals. Remember that some faculty members may be on leave and unavailable to write a letter of recommendation. It is much more important to have a letter of recommendation from a faculty member who knows you well than from a dean or prominent professor who is only just acquainted with you. You owe it to yourself to begin thinking about prospective letters of recommendation early. You want to approach potential recommenders soon. Applications will normally require between two or as many as eight letters of recommendation, which are absolutely critical in the selection process.
5. Expect to provide some evidence of financial need. Always file a FAFSA each year and use the Financial Aid Office for guidance as well.
6. Transcripts must accompany most fellowship applications and on occasion photographs, evidence of residency or national origin are needed as well. If several transcripts are required, it is usually permissible to submit only one original and then photocopies. Sometimes fellowships require that a physician sign a certificate of good health. On occasion, evidence of residency or national origin may be needed.
7. You must submit scores for the GRE (Graduate Record Examination) when you apply for many of the listed fellowships, including the U.S. Department of Defense & State, Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships, Hughes, Mellon and National Science Foundation Fellowships. The GRE General Test is given year-round by computer. You can register over the phone by calling 1-800-473-2255, by calling the Prometrics test site directly, or online at www.ets.org. Appointments are scheduled on a first-come, first-served basis, so you should register early. The Subject Tests are given in the paper-based format only on specified dates. Please check www.gre.org for more information.
8. Be sure that the academic department and degree you wish to pursue actually exist at the institution you have in mind. Often a proposal is strengthened by your knowledge of the school’s programs. Many institutions now have detailed home pages online. Use this address for British universities: http://www.mit.edu:8001/people/cdemello/uk.html. You must take the initiative to seek out information. Talk with faculty in your own department, seek out knowledgeable persons elsewhere, and read carefully the collection of graduate catalogues. Whenever possible, correspond directly with faculty members at the institutions(s) to which you are applying, in order to secure their support or sponsorship for graduate study.
9. This collection of opportunities is only a fraction of what is available to students. The Office of Career Services maintains bulletins and announcements of many other fellowship opportunities.
10. A number of scholarships and grants included in this booklet and listed in the various directories specifically target members of ethnic minorities and women. In some cases, the scholarship program restricts the applicant pool to specific groups. Other scholarships make a point of encouraging minority candidates, but do not restrict the applicant pool (e.g. National Science Foundation, Ford Foundation Diversity Fellowships, Howard Hughes Fellowships). Fellowships are available for study in a wide range of academic and professional fields. The graduate institutions themselves administer some. Others may be supported by specific organizations, such as the NAACP local chapter. The Black Graduate Caucus on campus serves as a resource to undergraduates of color who are interested in pursuing fellowship opportunities.
11. For those applying to more project-oriented or self-directed fellowships, be sure to contact relevant organizations and talk to professors to assure that your plans are viable.