Applying for Scholarships Gets You More than Money

Photo: Nicole Pasia

What Do Other Students Say About Applying for Scholarships?

“This was my second time applying, after I was rejected for last year’s cycle, but this gave me time to re-evaluate why I wanted to pursue this path and develop both my language skills and expand my research in Eastern European topics,” says UW senior, Conor Cunningham. He is one of three UW students to receive the Boren Scholarship which provides funding opportunities for U.S. students to study languages and world regions critical to U.S. interests (including Africa, Asia, Central & Eastern Europe, Eurasia, Latin America & the Caribbean, and the Middle East). Conor will live with a host family in Daugavpils, Latvia, while exploring the culture and studying the Russian language at Daugavpils University. “Receiving the Boren has been one of my greatest achievements thus far and it has been a huge honor for me.” Cunningham explains. In the end, this made receiving the scholarship that much more rewarding for me. It really signifies an acknowledgment of my work that I have done as a student at the University of Washington.” Read more about his story.

UW alumna Sneha Indrajit, ’18, was recently selected for the competitive Yenching Academy Scholars program at Peking University where she plans to pursue a master’s degree in law and society with the hopes that it will expose her to a greater understanding of China and its relations with other countries. Sneha says, “Just to be immersed in the culture is an invaluable opportunity, deepening my understanding of the language and deepening my understanding of how China positions itself in the world.” Read more about her story.

As these stories show, applying for scholarships gives you the opportunity to:

  • Consider your goals
  • Reflect on your experiences
  • Practice articulating your ideas

Receiving a scholarship is a significant accomplishment. It can:

  • Open the door to educational and employment opportunities like study abroad, summer research opportunities and internships.
  • Give you a jump start on applying for jobs and for graduate or professional school; the materials you develop can be used for cover letters when applying for jobs and for personal statements if you decide to apply to graduate or professional school.

What are Some Academic Benefits of Applying for Scholarships?

  • The process of applying for scholarships gives you time to weave together where you have been and what you have done, and create a story about where you want to go.
    • Studying the award criteria and looking at past winners may help you get a sense of what you want to strive for and identify skill gaps.
    • Trying to fill these gaps will not only increase your chances of getting the award, but also put you in a stronger position for your future career planning and progression.
  • In addition to covering your education costs, certain scholarships also allow students to take advantage of opportunities to expand their knowledge and experience outside the classroom through internships, fellowships or travel abroad.
  • The Fulbright U.S. Student Program, for example, affords students the opportunity to study, conduct research, develop creative arts projects, or serve as an English teaching assistant in one of approximately 155 countries.
  • Earning one or more scholarships can also raise your visibility and make you more attractive to admissions committees if you plan to continue your education at the graduate or professional school level.

Are There Professional Benefits of Applying for Scholarships?

  • Employers like to see that candidates are proactive, willing to take initiative on their own behalf and see something through from start to finish; receiving a scholarship is proof you can do this.
  • Many scholarships exist that directly connect you to jobs or to clear job pathways. For example, the NIH Postbac IRTA/CRTA Program provides paid work in a national lab and as well as mentoring; along the way you apply to graduate school and eventually become a researcher.
  • There are a handful of scholarships that fund graduate school and entry into foreign service careers. Some examples are:
    • The Payne Fellowship seeks to attract outstanding individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).
    • The Pickering Fellowship is a program funded by the U.S. Department of State, administered by Howard University, that attracts and prepares outstanding young people for Foreign Service careers in the U.S. Department of State.
    • The Rangel Graduate Fellowship is a program that aims to attract and prepare outstanding young people for careers in the Foreign Service of the U.S. Department of State in which they can help formulate, represent and implement U.S. foreign policy.
  • Other scholarships fund graduate school for an intended career in public service. One example is the The Harry S Truman Scholarship; the premier graduate fellowship in the United States for those pursuing careers as public service leaders.
  • Some of these scholarship-related opportunities provide access to job boards that you would not otherwise be able to use.

What Are Some Financial Benefits of Applying for Scholarships?

While applying for scholarships requires time and effort, receiving one or more lightens financial pressures and may allow you to pursue a project you proposed. By doing so you can make connections with key people that may help you advance in school and your career. It also gives you the freedom to take advantage of educational opportunities you are interested in having with less concern about how you will pay for it.

Submitting an application for an award requires a certain degree of boldness, and those who are naturally shy or lack self-confidence shouldn’t let that get in the way of promoting themselves.

About the Husky Experience Toolkit

The Husky Experience Toolkit is designed to help you make the most of your time at UW, wherever you are in your university career. The articles address four interconnected dimensions of the Husky Experience: Know Yourself, Know the World, Make Your Way, and Weave it Together.