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  • Planning to Apply

    The Scholar Development office has the experience to help you plan and organize your scholarship application, so your first step should be to contact us well in advance of the deadline.  Some scholarships can take months or years to prepare effectively, so it is imperative to seek advice as soon as possible.

    • Choose a scholarship for which you are eligible and have plenty of time to prepare.
    • Thoroughly familiarize yourself with the application requirements. 
    • Mark all deadlines on your personal calendar and plan accordingly—note the difference between a postmark and a receipt deadline.
    • Request letters of recommendation as early as possible and provide writers with plenty of information about you and the scholarship to which you are applying. 
    • Assemble application materials, such as transcripts and test scores, well ahead of the deadline. 
    • Ask respected advisors to proof your application essays for style and content.
  • Personal Development

    Scholarship committees are looking for well-rounded, civically-engaged scholars with a passion for learning and sharing. Here are a few suggestions on how to develop into a first-rate scholar-leader: 

    • Challenge yourself by taking a diversity of courses outside your major. Expanding your academic experience with courses from a wide range of fields deepens your understanding and improves your ability to engage others in stimulating conversation.
    • Pursue research in an area that interests you. OSU is a comprehensive research institution with many funding opportunities that can help undergraduates develop and implement a project of their own.
    • Become active in the community by volunteering for a non-profit organization that means something to you. A passion for service is part of being a positive member of society.
    • Get to know your instructors. Talk to your professors and advisors about your interests and opportunities for enrichment. These people will be your best source of recommendation letters when competing for scholarships.
    • Develop your writing and speaking proficiency by taking courses in the humanities—especially if your major is in the sciences. Strong language and communication skills are critical to compelling essays and interviews.
    • Inform yourself on current events by reading serious newspapers and magazines, such as The New York Times and The Economist. Vigorous recreational reading habits will also contribute to your development as an educated citizen of the world.
    • Pursue internships or work in your field of study. Activities related to your major evidence a genuine interest in your choice of academic courses.
    • Look into study abroad opportunities to help you become a knowledgeable member of the global community. You can also take part in the many cultural events on campus.
    • Step up to a leadership role in a campus organization. Make sure that your participation is genuine and that you are committed to the task.
    • Apply for institutional scholarships before pursuing a major national or international competition. Even if you do not win, the experience preparing for the competition will prove beneficial.
    • Think about your academic and personal goals and consult with a trusted advisor about the best way to achieve them. The Scholar Development office is always open to provide direction to what can often seem like a hectic and overwhelming process.
    • Go for it! Many students feel that they are not up to the task of competing for prestigious scholarships, such as the Rhodes or Marshall; but anyone with enough drive and ambition should be encouraged to pursue their dreams. People are not born great scholars; they are developed with hard-work and determination.
  • Requesting Letters

    Most scholarship applications required at least one letter of recommendation, so it is important to know how to approach professors, advisors, bosses, and others to write a letter.


    Choosing Your Letter Writers

    If you have developed significant relationships with several individuals, you will need to decide who to ask for letters. Knowing how to ask for them in a professional manner will increase your chances of receiving a carefully considered letter.

    • Carefully read your application materials to determine the preferred letter writers-e.g. professor, advisor, etc.
    • Choose individuals familiar with you and your work-academic or volunteer. You may be tempted to choose someone with a more prestigious title or position, who does not know you as well, but this will be evident to the scholarship committees.
    • Choose someone familiar with your recent activities (2-3 years).
    • Avoid asking family, friends, ministers or high school teachers.

    When Requesting Letters Always:

    • Give your writers plenty of time. (If possible, submit your requests at least three weeks before the deadline.)
    • Provide a draft of your scholarship essays-especially the personal statement.
    • Be polite, but always check with your writers well ahead of the deadline.
    • In addition to your verbal request, provide a written request that clearly indicates:

           - Full name of the scholarship

           - How the award fits your academic and personal goals

           - Deadline for submission

           - Destination address

           - Details about the scholarship:

                 - Selection criteria

                 - Scholarship goals

                 - Structure and amount of the award 

  • Writing Essays
    • Joe Schall, Writing Personal Statements Online
    • Anne Lamont, "Shitty First Drafts"
    • Alex Thaler’s the Art of the Personal Statement
    • Stephen King, On Writing – the first part is a memoir and less useful, but the last half has a lot of good readings on how to keep writing simple and on being specific
    • Mary Hale Tolar and Jane Curlin have both written fine short essays on statements
    • Bits of the four NAFA books
    • Donald Asher, Graduate Admissions Essays
    • Tracey Kidder, Good Prose: The Art of Nonfiction
    • good resources for students put up by Pomona College's Writing Center:
    • James Durban, Be a College Achiever (specifically the “writing chapters”)
  • Preparing for an Interview
    Before the Interview


    • Know your interviewers--the organization namesake, etc.
    • Review your application to anticipate questions.
    • Stay apprised of current events in the news.
    • Participate in mock interviews in our office.
    • Review relevant information listed below.


    • Create a packing checklist.
    • Pack backup clothing options.
    • Consider bringing a Tide Pen for emergency spills.
    • Choose neat, conservative clothing that is clean and comfortable.
    • Try on all clothes in advance to check fit.
    • Avoid new shoes you haven't broken in.
    • Don't forget your photo ID or other required documents.


    • Buy or print a map of the location in advance.
    • If possible, investigate the site ahead of time.
    • Leave plenty of time for the unexpected.
    • Get enough sleep prior to departure.
    • Eat at least an hour in advance of your interview.
    • Avoid greasy and/or spicy food.
  • During the Interview


    • Make eye contact frequently.
    • Smile.
    • Maintain proper posture.
    • Don't fidget.
    • Avoid distracting tics.
    • Use hand gestures sparingly.
    • Shake hands with confidence.
    • Try to relax.


    • Carefully articulate without rushing.
    • Project to everyone in the room.
    • Take necessary pauses to collect your thoughts.
    • Eliminate filler words, such as "um" and "like."
    • Avoid slang or discipline-specific jargon.
    • Spit out your gum before you enter the room.
    • Do not spend too much time on any one answer.
    • Treat the interview as a discussion, not an interrogation.


    • Listen carefully before responding.
    • Request clarification as needed.
    • Address the question asked.
    • Admit if you do not have an informed responce.
    • Expound on a Yes/No question.
    • Say what you need to say and move on.
    • Follow up generalizations with more specific examples.
    • Feel free to disagree, but do so with respect.
    • If you make a mistake, move on.
    • Make clear your passions and expertise without bragging.
    • Don't introduce issues you are not prepared to discuss.
    • Don't forget to thank the judges for their time.
    • Relevant Information for Interview Preparation

    Be Prepared to Identify:

    • Award's namesake/founder
    • Interview panel members
    • Important elected officials-international, national and state
    • Significant figures in your field
    • Key texts in your field-title, author and thesis

    Be Prepared to Address:

    • Long and short term academic and/or personal goals
    • Favorite books and authors
    • Important mentors or role models
    • Admired civic and political leaders
  • Writers' Workshop at the Doel Reed Center for the Arts

     All successful applicants who are awarded with OSU institutional nomination for the Truman, Goldwater, and Udall will receive an invitation to participate in the annual Writers’ Workshop at the OSU Doel Reed Center for the Arts in Taos, NM. Significant scholarship support is provided for each institutional nominee to participate in the workshop, which is held during the last week of students’ winter break (early January).  OSU faculty and staff from our office join forces to mentor student nominees and to provide feedback on their application materials.


    Mission of the Workshop

    The tranquil, picturesque setting of Oklahoma State University’s Doel Reed Center in Taos, New Mexico offers students an ideal location for the deep reflection and careful articulation demanded by the competitive scholarship application process.


    In this five-day travel program, students will have the opportunity to craft the written components of the applications they began on campus while also allowing time to explore the unique culture of Taos. Whether they are developing a personal statement or policy proposal, experienced writers and advisors will guide students through all stages of the revision process. And in the spirit of the workshop format, students will share with peers in a supportive, respectful environment.


    For more information:


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