The specific application requirements vary depending on the scholarship or fellowship for which you intend to apply. However, most do require a personal statement or essay describing you as a student and why you are applying for that specific scholarship. Most personal statements are concise; many are limited to between 500 and 1,000 words. Therefore, it is imperative that you are both concise and original. Well-written personal essays grab the readers’ attention and offer a coherent picture of the applicant. We suggest students begin the personal statement early so that it can be edited as necessary. Expect to spend many hours and many drafts on this important part of the application.
Before you begin writing your personal statement, be sure you understand the specific questions asked by your intended scholarship. If you have trouble beginning your personal statement, the University Writing Center, your professors, and your advisors are great resources. Of course, the ONS also offers assistance in reviewing your application.*
Additional writing resources for your personal statement are available on the following sites:
- Writing Personal Statements Online (by Joe Schall, courtesy of Pennsylvania State University)
- OWL Purdue’s Guide to Writing the Personal Statement
- Stop Thinking, Start Writing (PDF guide courtesy of the University of Essex)
For more in-depth information about personal statements and application essays, please visit this website, which also provides additional guidelines and helpful tips for numerous scholarships, including Udall, Goldwater, Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Mitchell, and Gates Cambridge.
Additional student essay tips, including helpful information about what to do after you've submitted them, can be found here.
Some scholarships and fellowships may also require a project or research proposal to be written as a part of your application. Usually these proposals are a short explanation (1-2 pages) of the project you plan to complete during the tenure of the fellowship. Your proposal must be succinct, accurately describe your vision for the project, and address how your specific research project reflects the charge of the scholarship. Lastly, be sure to address all of the requirements expected by the fellowship in your proposal. To learn more about research proposals, visit URaCE.
*Do note that for certain scholarships (i.e., the Rhodes and the Mitchell), you are required to certify that you have not received any feedback or help with your personal statement; therefore, neither the ONS nor your professors can offer you any assistance on personal statements for these two scholarships. Again, be sure to carefully read the requirements of the scholarship and seek out help from the ONS office early in the application process.