Students New to Scholarships
Welcome, Future Applicants!
Whether you’re a UAA Freshman or Senior, you’re sort of new to Nationally Competitive Scholarships. You’re aware of what they are—kind of, at least—and they sound like something you’d really like to go out for. But before you decide you want to apply for one, you want to learn more about what they are. Don’t worry; we can help you out with that. Take a look through the rest of this page and you’ll be on the right track in no time!
Still on the fence about doing it? Click here to take a look through our list of past Nationally Competitive Scholarship recipients. You’ll see that they’re not superhuman; they’re just like you, and you can be like them, too, if you’re willing. And you are, of course, because you’re a seawolf.
The biggest fault with most students is not that they’re not good enough. Rather, it’s that they think they’re not good enough, and so they set themselves up for failure before they can even do anything. You can’t do that to yourself. You’re a seawolf; you owe it to yourself to be the best you that you can be. When you see an over-achiever who has accomplished more than you have, you have to remember that they weren’t born with trophies and certificates in their lap; they at one point were just like you, with the same doubts and worries. When you see their names being recognized, don’t think, “I’m not like that.” Instead, say to yourself, “I’m not like that—yet. But I can be.” And you will be.
New to UAA
New to Scholarships
NEW TO UAA
Difference between "scholarship" and "Nationally Competitive Scholarship"
Planning for a Nationally Competitive Scholarship
Getting involed in the UAA community
- What’s the difference between a “scholarship” and a “Nationally Competitive Scholarship”?
With “regular” scholarships, you’re simply competing against a pool of local applicants, whereas with Nationally Competitive Scholarships, you’re competing on a national level (hence “nationally competitive”). Nationally Competitive Scholarships differ from regular scholarships in that they don’t just pay for your tuition (as important as that may be); they also offer you an opportunity to reflect on your future career plans and focus your efforts so that you make better use of the existing institutional resources at your disposal. For example, many Nationally Competitive Scholarships offer students the chance to study or conduct research in other countries, which is something that may complement your current academic plans.
Nationally Competitive Scholarships are among the highest honors that undergraduate students or recent graduates can achieve. In other words, Nationally Competitive Scholarships make you stand out in the eyes of future employers or graduate school admission committees. It’s not a bad thing to want a Nationally Competitive Scholarship for this reason. However, the people who actually win these awards usually apply for more personally invested reasons; the accolade of winning a scholarship is not their top priority. Many recipients want to genuinely learn about the culture and the history of the countries they go to; others use their Nationally Competitive Scholarship as an opportunity to help people in need. Whatever your reason is for applying, just remember that it’s not just a gift for you: it’s a chance for you to give to others, too.
Although being awarded a Nationally Competitive Scholarship is the ultimate objective, the winning of the scholarship cannot be guaranteed. Still, great value lies in the application process. Developing a plan for your future, articulating your interest and preparedness for advanced academic study and leadership, cultivating your relationship with a network of mentors, reflecting through deep and critical self-analysis, and presenting your future academic and professional plans to professors who will respond to you as peers—all of these unique opportunities are shared by those who commit themselves to applying.In summation: Scholarships pay for tuition. Nationally Competitive Scholarships pay for graduate school, and they also provide you with an unparalleled life experience you probably won’t get anywhere else. Just take a look at the list of past recipients. Look at what they got to do and what they do now. Not all applicants received the Nationally Competitive Scholarship they applied for. However, many of them were still able to attend the schools and programs they wanted to because the experience they received from the application process helped them grow into people that could do great things. It doesn’t matter where you come from or what you’re studying; if you have even just a passing interest to do what they’ve done—to do more than you’ve done—then we’d love for you to apply for a Nationally Competitive Scholarship.
- Planning for a Nationally Competitive Scholarship
The application process is a rigorous and demanding one; it demands attention and creativity. Though everyone has the potential to get one, not everyone will, and so you’ll have to stand out in some way if you want to be chosen for one. Potential Candidates must provide multiple letters of recommendation, compelling personal statements, and, in many cases, undergo an extensive interview process. (You can find a full list of Application Materials here.) Many Nationally Competitive Scholarships dictate that students must have their applications endorsed by or be officially nominated by their university, which means that a UAA faculty committee will evaluate your qualifications and determine if they are worthy of official support at the end of a campus interview.
At this point you’re probably thinking, “Wow, I don’t know what any of that means and now I want to quit.” First: Don’t quit! Stay with us for a moment. Second: It’s completely understandable that you don’t know what any of that means. After all, you’ve just started out; we can’t expect you remember any of what you’ve just read. We say that process is an undoubtedly challenging one; that much is true. However, the rewards are great, and you have people like our Scholarship Advisors to help you out. It is pertinent to your well-being that you remember this: You are not alone. You are the one doing the application, of course, and you will be doing most of the work, but if you ever get overwhelmed or disorganized, do not hesitate to reach out for help! We’ll lend you a hand.
If you feel comfortable continuing, then here are some things to think about:
- Build Relationships & Plan Your Course Work
What areas of study interest you? If you’re undeclared, go through your first set of core classes and pay close attention to which of them you’re either good at or enjoy the most. If you like your English and history classes, great! If you lean more toward science or math, that’s great, too! Start getting to know the people in your area of focus by setting up appointments with your professors. It’s not a bad idea to talk to your professors about your interest in the topic they teach, because they may encourage you to pursue a degree in their field. And ask them about other professors in their department, too, as it’s a great idea to get to know other professionals who can tell you more about their field of study.
While you’re getting to know which field of study you want to pursue—or if you already know what your major is—then be sure to go out and meet other students, too! Ask your professors or your class advisor about the Honors College. They can also point you to some other student organizations as well--for example, Sigma Alpha Phi (if you’re in Criminal Justice) or Phi Alpha Theta (if you’re in History). You should also try participating in some of UAA’s conferences, too, such as the Model UN Conference for Political Science Majors, or the Pacific Rim Conference for English Majors. All students are welcome to participate whether as presenters or spectators! Even as a spectator at one of these events, you can get to know lots of the students and faculty involved in the field you want to work in, and the potential relationships you can build from those experiences is invaluable.Most importantly, the people you build relationships with will be able to give you advice about your studies. They will support you as you write your applications, too! Let faculty and staff know you may contact them in the future for letters of recommendation and for other meetings pertaining to your scholarship application so that they can give you advice on certain subjects.
- Learn a Language
If you don’t already know this, some of the Nationally Competitive Scholarships, such as the Fulbright Award, require you to be fluent in another language, and that’s because they give you the opportunity to teach, study, or conduct research in another country.
It’s fine if you haven’t already studied a foreign language—start now! Sign up for a foreign language you’re interested in, or maybe, if you have a country you want to go to, study the language of that country. Extend your competence with advanced language courses; augment it with courses on the history, politics, or art of the country you want to go to; and consider a community service, internship, or foreign study experience that will help you gain fluency. And if you want, try watching films from the country you want to go to, or look up videos of people who speak the language you’re learning. You’ll want to immerse yourself in the language and surround yourself in that environment as much as you can in order to prepare yourself for when you really do go to that country.If you need further help choosing a language, or if you don’t know what “community service,” “internship,” or “foreign study experience” is in the context of learning a language, click here.
- Think Outside the Classroom
Take full advantage of the variety of opportunities and activities available to you. In addition to the student organizations we mentioned above (such as the Honors College or Sigma Tau Delta), you can get involved in co-curricular activities, including campus and community service, as well as varsity or intra-mural athletics. You should eventually try out for leadership positions in these activities, but for now, just join up and start learning! Your leadership qualities will come about naturally as time goes on.
If you’re currently working (or you want to work) during the semester, consider work-study positions and jobs that align with your academic and career goals. You never know—a job might lead you to a greater opportunity!
- Build Relationships & Plan Your Course Work
- Study Abroad
If you’re planning for studying in a foreign country, check out scholarships like Fulbright, Gilman, Boren, or the German Exchange. There are a few more as well! Be sure to check out the list of scholarships on the homepage of the Nationally Competitive Scholarships.
Gather information and decide on a foreign study experience. If you can’t do a whole year or even a regular semester, consider a summer program. Get faculty advice on which foreign study locations are both strongest in your major and might provide a foundation for an unusual senior thesis or internship.
- How far should I look ahead?
Typically, you’ll want to get comfortable with everything within your first semester at UAA. Try meeting with your professors and advisors during the semester to help familiarize yourself with the way things work. Then, in your second semester, you’ll want to continue doing everything you’ve already been doing, but you’ll also want to start doing things specifically for the Nationally Competitive Scholarship you’re thinking about applying for.
As you’re first starting out, you want to worry less about the Nationally Competitive Scholarships and more about broadening your experiences. You always want to keep the Nationally Competitive Scholarships in the back of your mind, of course (because they’re a big part of the reason you’re going out and doing all of this), but you also need to step back and look at all the small goals you need to achieve before you can get a Nationally Competitive Scholarship. That cliché saying—that a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step—applies. Each step counts; each step, no matter how small, is significant.
Remember: how far ahead you should look depends on where you are now. You always want to have in mind your end goal, the Nationally Competitive Scholarship. Otherwise, you won’t know where you’re going. However, you don’t want to look too far ahead when it comes to the small steps. You should always know what your end goal is, but you should also think more about the beginning of your application than the ending of it, or you’ll never get to the middle of it.
Additionally, if you’re completely new to everything UAA-related and you feel as if you can’t even begin to wrap your head around the Nationally Competitive Scholarships, try taking a look through the list of Nationally Competitive Scholarships on the Nationally Competitive Scholarships Home Page, or ask your scholarship advisor about them. The anxiety you might be feeling right now stems from the fact that you don’t yet know anything, so the logical solution is to sit down and think about what you want to learn more about. Afterward, speak with a professor or an advisor and ask them about those things. We keep saying this (because it’s important): We are here to help you.
- Further Yourself
Each Nationally Competitive Scholarship’s application process is slightly different from one another. However, most applications require the following items:
- A Personal Statement
- Letters of Recommendation (multiple letters!)
- Standardized Exams
- An Activities List
- Personal Interviews (one with UAA and another with the scholarship committee)
This list looks overwhelming; we agree. Just remember, however, that you won’t be forced to complete every item at once. Take your time and finish each item one by one. You’ll eventually find that you’ll be done in no time!
Furthermore, we have a sort of “timeline” or “set order” for which you should complete or obtain each of these items. This standardized application process should make it easier for you to complete each document in an adequate and timely manner. If you’re ready to learn about the application process, or if you just want to take a glance at what’s in store for you, click here to see our Application Procedure at a Glance.
- How can I make my time at UAA count?
If you want to make the most of your time at UAA, get involved! Whether it’s engaging in undergraduate research, taking part in a student exchange, running on the university track team or doing a service learning internship and community engagement, getting involved greatly rounds out your UAA experience. Co-curricular activities not only demonstrate that you are an active member of your campus and community but will enhance your resume and your overall educational experience. Getting involved in your school can open many doors for you, both during and after college.
Below is a partial listing of some excellent on-campus resources that can help you make the most of your time at UAA:
- Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS)
OURS aims to provide undergraduates with opportunities to enhance their university experience. This office administers several grant and award programs to (1) fund research and creative projects, (2) reward students for outstanding achievements in research and creative activity, and (3) support student travel to conduct research/present research at conferences.
Rasmuson Hall, Room 115
- UAA Honors College
UAA’s Honors College provides students with an exciting intellectual experience by offering them opportunities to develop an integrative perspective extending beyond the confines of individual majors and disciplines. The college offers interdisciplinary courses, individualized academic advising and mentoring, leadership and scholarship opportunities, smaller classes, guided individual research, and community involvement.
Rasmuson Hall, Room 115
- UAA Office of International Affairs
This office coordinates and offers support for students who want to explore international educational opportunities including not only study abroad and international exchange, but also internships and service experiences.
Rasmuson Hall, Room 115
- UAA International Student Services
This office coordinates National Student Exchange, which provides students with affordable and practical opportunities to experience new and diverse settings in which to study and live. Students can study for a semester or for a year paying while paying UAA tuition or resident tuition at a choice of nearly 200 colleges and universities throughout the United States and Canada, including Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
University Center, Room 106
- Center for Community Engagement and Learning (CCEL)
The Center for Community Engagement and Learning (CCEL) builds upon the University’s community service mission. CCEL serves as a clearinghouse for faculty interested in community-based learning and research; a front door to the University for community leaders with project ideas, proposal, and needs; a catalyst for students seeking academic engagement beyond the traditional classroom; a promoter and generator for participatory action research to help meet applied research needs of the community.
UAA Library, Room 211G
- Office of Student Financial Assistance (OSFA)
OSFA assists students in applying for state and federal aid programs. State and Federal governments, the UNiversity, and many private organizations offer grants, scholarships, loans, and employment opportunities to students on the basis of merit, financial need and/or other factors.
University Center, Room 105
- Native Student Services
Native Student Services provides quality support services to Native and rural students. It promotes scholastic achievement, student retention, and personal growth. The Native Student Services Center offers an affirming place where students can receive academic advising, scholarship information, assistance, and resource support. Students can also participate in scholastically oriented activities, cultural programming, traditional workshops, and summer internships.
Rasmuson Hall, Room 108
- Student Life & Leadership Office
This office provides support to student government, clubs, and other organizations that provides opportunities for students to get involved in activities and programs that promote various hobbies, interests, sports, religions, cultures, academic programs, careers, and lifestyles.
Student Union, Room 218
- AHAINA Student Programs
AHAINA (which stands for ”African American, Hispanic, Asian, International, and Native American”) provides resources and academic assistance to students of diverse ethnicities. AHAINA also offers academic support, workshops, cultural programs, tuition waivers, scholarship and internship information, and academic recognition programs.
Many AHAINA emails are sent out to the UAA community. Next time you get one, read through it!
Rasmuson Hall, Room 106
- Office of Undergraduate Research and Scholarship (OURS)