Have you ever thought about traveling to a foreign country to learn something about yourself? Pursuing a research project over the summer? Working to serve a community in need or to gain practical experience? Continuing your studies after you graduate?
Every undergraduate should at least consider applying for fellowships. These awards represent unique possibilities of support for your aspirations. Applying for them will almost certainly be beneficial for you, since clarifying your goals and learning how to present ideas—on paper and in person—both prepare you for job searches, graduate school applications, and much else in life.
A fellowship is a merit-based type of grant—financial awards given to an individual for some specific experience, usually in a competitive context, based on how well you demonstrate your need for it. Applying for fellowships requires careful thought and preparation, especially if you hope to learn from the process. It requires defining your goals, researching suitable opportunities, presenting your case, and marshaling supporting materials.
We use the term "major" to describe extramural scholarships and fellowships administered and funded by national and international foundations. Thus, they are to be distinguished from Clemson University scholarships and financial aid programs. Except for the Goldwater and Udall Scholarships, these programs are for post-baccalaureate study, including in some cases a second undergraduate degree. Most require candidates to be nominated or endorsed by their undergraduate institutions. The scholarships listed in this site are supported by Clemson University. Students who are interested in applying for Major Fellowships and Scholarships are encouraged to visit with Ricki Shine, Director of Major Fellowships, firstname.lastname@example.org; 864-656-4762, as early as their freshman year to discuss appropriate coursework and other experiences to prepare for suitable opportunities.
What will the application process involve?
Your first step will be self-assessment. Think about what you want to do in broad, ideal terms, and take stock of the skills, aptitudes, and other qualities that might qualify you for that experience. Your next step will be research.
Once you’ve decided to apply for fellowships, and which fellowships to apply for, your own application materials will influence selection decisions. Each application has its own requirements, but your application essay—and the recommenders you choose—ultimately will be most influential in determining outcomes. In some cases, you may also be invited for an interview.
What are the benefits of applying?
If you’re fortunate and receive a fellowship, you’ll get to pursue a chance of a lifetime. And success in grantsmanship tends to breed success—future applications will be easier for you, and you will bring a proven track record to each of them. If you don’t receive a fellowship, you will still learn much from the application process.
Whatever the outcome, you will reap certain benefits in applying for fellowships. You’ll find that your thoughts about yourself and your future will be clearer, and that you have more confidence in exploring and pursuing possibilities for your future.