Getting Started

Getting Started

So you’ve decided to apply for a scholarship or fellowship. Congratulations! You are embarking on a journey that will help you clearly articulate your goals, hone your writing and interviewing skills, and prepare for the next steps in your professional career and/or education. Here are some of the steps you may need to take during the application process: 

  1. Start early! Do not wait until three weeks before the application deadline to start. Most students need to write 5 or more drafts of their essay/personal statement. For some scholarships, you’ll need official transcripts from all the institutions you have attended, and these take time. Note that some scholarships require an institutional endorsement or nomination, so Eastern will have a campus deadline that is several weeks beforethe scholarship deadline. Start early!
  2. Contact the Fellowships Office early in the game to let us know you’re planning to apply. We’ll meet with you to discuss the process for your specific scholarship application and give you some feedback on the application, essays, and letters of recommendation. If you are interested in a scholarship with an October deadline, contact our office in the spring (especially if you will be out of the state or country during the summer). Contacting us early will not only help us give you the best guidance possible, but also enable us to send you other scholarship possibilities that might be a good fit for your goals.
  3. Carefully review the application requirements and make yourself a checklist of everything you need to do. Give yourself some interim deadlines for doing each item, and include deadlines for writing multiple drafts of essays.
  4. Request transcripts.Some scholarships require official transcripts from every institution you’ve attended (even if you just took one course). Find out if you need official transcripts or not, and request these documents early.
  5. Identify references. Think about the faculty who best know you and your work and could write strong letters of recommendation. Discuss the options with the Fellowships Office—we can help you determine who might be best to approach given the particulars of a given scholarship. Approach your letter writers one month before the deadline, and give them information that will help them write a good letter. Read more about approaching potential recommenders.
  6. Determine the focus of your essay. Depending on the scholarship, you may want to discuss this with a professor before you start writing.
  7. Write. Revise. Repeat. Prepare to write at least 5 drafts of your essay. Build in time to get feedback from the Fellowships Office and/or a trusted faculty member. Read tips on writing essays.
  8. Fill out the application. Proofread. Revise. Many scholarships have an on-line application that you can revise as many times as you want before you submit it. Start filling it out early so you’re not surprised by a tricky question. Our office can provide feedback on your answers, but please proofread what you’ve written before bringing it to us!
  9. Prepare for the campus interview. Some scholarships require a campus endorsement or nomination, and these generally will require you to meet with a committee of Eastern faculty for 15 to 20 minutes to discuss your application or proposal.
  10. Revise. If your scholarship requires a campus interview and you earn Eastern’s endorsement, you will receive valuable feedback from the committee that met with you. You can use this feedback to make changes to your application and/or essays before the national deadline.
  11. Plan to submit a day early. Seriously. Save yourself the worry of the possibility of a technical glitch or power outage preventing you from submitting your application the day it’s due, or the possibility that a snowstorm or hurricane will affect mail delivery. (These things actually happen!) Most scholarships will not accept a late application, regardless of the circumstances. Tell yourself that the deadline is one day earlier than it really is.
  12. Prepare for interviews. Some scholarships require an interview via phone or Skype, and a few have in-person interviews for semi-finalists. Our office will help you prepare for these.
  13. Follow-up. Thank the people who helped you with your application or wrote letters of recommendation. Written thank you notes are always appreciated. Also, let your recommenders know about the final outcome.
  14. Celebrate your submission and keep some perspective. Pulling together an application can be a herculean task, and you should feel a sense of accomplishment for going through the process. Some students find it helpful to remember that while winning a prestigious scholarship is an amazing opportunity, it does not guarantee that you will achieve all of your goals. Thousands of applicants achieve long-term success despite failing to win a prestigious scholarship–and in fact, many people credit going through the application process with helping them get closer to their dreams and goals. You have learned a lot through this process, regardless of the outcome, and you can use this knowledge (and much of your written work!) to successfully apply to graduate school, other scholarships, or jobs.

Back to application resources