Becoming Competitive

Seek an academic experience that maximizes your personal, intellectual, and professional growth. You become a strong scholarship candidate by striving towards meaningful ends.

  • Pursue excellence in challenging classes. Good grades are prerequisite for scholarship success, but the best students seek more than the grade. Develop your thirst for knowledge. Take challenging and diverse courses outside your major.
  • Work on your communication skills; many scholarships require essays and interviews. Take courses in the liberal arts tradition to develop your skills and to learn how to construct effective arguments. 
  • Get work, internship, and volunteer experience in your field. Start looking for such experiences right after your freshman year and use every summer productively.
  • Make time for public service and volunteerism in areas that you care about.
  • Expand your knowledge of the people and events that are shaping your world. Read a serious newspaper and subscribe to one magazine or journal that covers matters of interest to your future profession. Participate in cultural events and attend lectures to hear fresh viewpoints.
  • Undertake travel and study abroad. Go as early as possible.
  • Study a second language -- it will open many doors.
  • Get involved in interesting extracurricular activities that are meaningful to you. There are no formulaic "best" activities. What you do with them is more important.
  • Seek out leadership positions. This does not necessarily mean holding offices in five different clubs. It means becoming an active player and contributor. Make things happen! Start your own organization if you see an unfilled need.
  • Consider submitting essays to essay contests and competing for smaller scholarships. These awards can function as building blocks.
  • Seek the opportunity to do research in your field whenever possible. This may take different forms with different majors, but it will help you prepare for your academic future and complement your classroom experience.
  • Present a paper at NAU symposiums and/or professional conferences; work to publish in a peer-reviewed journal.
  • Get to know people. Engage your professors, advisors, administrators and employers. Give them the opportunity to share opportunities and insights with you. They will be able to write more effective letters of recommendation for you, and you will gain the chance to discover their valuable life experience.
  • Read books independently to enrich your perspective and fertilize your mind.
  • If it looks like you could reasonably compete, summon up the time and courage to go for it. Why should you be the person who rejects your application? 


Adapted from Kansas State University College of Arts and Letters.