National academic awards have a long history in the United States. Rhodes Scholarships, perhaps the most well-known national competition, have been awarded since 1902. Today there are a wide variety of national scholarships and fellowships that cover a range of academic fields. While the number of awards have increased, so too has the competition. Thus the scholarships and fellowships you will find listed in our directory remain very competitive and prestigious. The application process requires significant time and attention to detail. However, there are great and numerous benefits to applying for these scholarships:
- They provide significant financial support. National scholarships and fellowships vary in purpose, but they all provide financial support for some form of educational experience. The scholarships and fellowships included in our directory provide funding for undergraduate tuition, graduate tuition, graduate school living expenses, and study abroad experiences. Most national awards exceed a $5,000 value.
- They are prestigious. Winning a national fellowship or scholarship competition indicates to graduate schools and employers that you are an elite candidate. Some scholarships include a conference at which you meet fellow scholars from around the country, while others provide access to a network of previous winners. These networks can open doors to exciting and unique career or academic opportunities.
- You will build skills that will make you a stronger graduate school or job candidate. When applying to a national scholarship, you will learn how to write a compelling story about yourself and your accomplishments. These personal statements are very similar to those you will write when applying to graduate school or a cover letter. This style of writing is different from other styles and takes time to master; a national scholarship competition is the perfect opportunity to develop and hone this valuable skill. You may also have the opportunity to develop your professional interviewing skills with a campus or national selection committee as some competitions require these.
“Elite institutions still dominate lists of top-scholarship winners. Harvard and Yale students have won a combined 52 Rhodes scholarships in the past 10 years, 16 percent of the total. But the Ivies’ share of winners has dipped over time, and each year, a first-time winner or two will break into the crowd. Augsburg College, in Minnesota, announced a Rhodes scholar last year; Truman State University, in Missouri, did last week. At the same time, advisers are monitoring a sea of scholarships that may not have the same cachet but still offer competition, recognition, and money.”
–Sara Lipka, The Chronicle of Higher Education