Tips on Applying for Fellowships and Scholarships
Applying for a major national scholarship takes a lot of time over the course of several months. You will need time to research opportunities, follow up on leads, develop personal materials, discuss essays and recommendations with faculty, and prepare applications with exceeding care. If your work is in the arts, you will need time to prepare a portfolio; students in other areas may also need to prepare polished writing samples. Build plenty of time in your schedule.
Many national scholarships and fellowships require a minimum GPA. Consider requesting grades early in your time at Bennington to establish a GPA well before you plan to apply.
There are many scholarships and fellowships available; researching your options and selecting those that best fit your interests and goals will take time. Meeting with Jennifer Burg, Assistant Director of Academic Services and Student Grants Counselor, to discuss your interests is a good way to start your search, as is browsing the resources available on this site. All major national awards have an extensive web presence that will allow you to review eligibility criteria and application guidelines.
Begin your personal statement now
Think of this as a highly sophisticated Plan statement. Every scholarship will require some version of this, so start writing now. You’ll tailor the statement to different scholarships. These scholarship essays can also form the basis for graduate school applications. Write an intellectual biography. Reflect on your progress of thought and development, note pivotal experiences, and describe your academic and professional goals. Expect to write many, many drafts and get lots of help from faculty, Academic Services, peer writing tutors, and written resources. A particularly good resource is the online version of Joe Schall's Personal Statements and Application Essays for National Scholarships.
Organize your work
For each scholarship, keep a checklist of application requirements, multiple drafts of essays, and records of your correspondence with affiliates and recommenders. Remember, prestigious national scholarships do not accept late or incomplete applications; organization and timely submission of work are critical.
Stay in touch with campus resources
Determine who can best advise and support you during the application process and be sure to your ideas and progress with them. This can include Bennington faculty and staff, faculty members for other colleges or universities, and professionals working in your area of interest. Remember, too, to maintain those relationships after you graduate; their guidance (and their recommendations) will benefit you well into the future.