In this context, the terms scholarships and fellowships are often used interchangeably and refer to awards funded by an outside (non-OSU) source. This funding source is usually referred to as a foundation and ranges from government agencies to non-profit organizations. Students from universities across the country compete for a set number of funds awarded at the national level.
Many of the national foundations which grant these awards require students be nominated by their university in order to apply; students are not able to apply for these awards directly. The UFO coordinates the campus selection process to select which students the university will nominate. Thus, for many awards, you are initially applying for OSU’s nomination for the award, rather than the actual award itself.
Because OSU must have time to conduct a campus selection process, the campus application deadline will be earlier than the final deadlines posted on many of the foundations’ websites. Students must meet the campus deadline to be considered for these awards, so it is important to plan ahead! Some campus deadlines are six months prior to the final, national date.
Some awards do not require a university nomination, and students may apply directly to the foundation granting the award. We work with many students to craft and revise their applications for these types of awards as well.
Eligibility criteria are minimum requirements which students must meet in order to apply. The criteria which makes a student competitive for an award is usually significantly higher than that for eligibility purposes. Some awards require students to be at a specific point in their college career (e.g., sophomore, junior). These are not defined by the number of credits you have completed or your OSU-defined rank. This is defined by the amount of time left before you plan to graduate. If you are unclear as to whether you meet an award’s requirements, please contact our office.
How do I start?
Start by gathering information and browsing the opportunities listed on the UFO’s website. Our site provides just a brief description of these awards; make sure to click through to the foundation’s official site for more information and full details about the award. Many of these sites have profiles of past winners – look through some of them. Do these students look like you? Do they sound like they have similar goals or aspirations to you? This can be a good sign of whether you may be a good match for the award.
Attend an information session hosted by the UFO. These sessions are usually held 3-6 months prior to the national deadlines. If you are not able to attend an information session or none are scheduled for the opportunity which interests you, come by our Drop-in Advising hours to discuss your plans with an advisor. You can also join the UFO’s listerv which will announce all upcoming competitions, deadlines, events, and info sessions. You can add (or remove)
Once you confirm that an award is right for you, you will begin drafting the application. Our office is here to help you with this stage – a large portion of our time is spent helping students draft and revise essays and short-answer questions for the application.
What can I do to make myself more competitive?
While each award has different eligibility and selection criteria, there are some things which can make students more competitive candidates for most awards:
- Keep those grades up! Academics count!
- Participate in undergraduate research
- Develop ongoing relationships with faculty who you can call on for recommendations
- Seek out international experiences.
- Find one or two meaningful activities where you aspire to a leadership role.
- Engage with your community. Successful students have ongoing involvement in community and service activities.
- Reflect on your goals. Think about what motivates you, what you want to do next after OSU, and where you ultimately would like to end up professionally.
- Be purposeful. Make sure your activities move you towards your goals.