Here are a few ways you can assist your students in connecting with the ONSF and competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities:
1) The earlier a student begins to think about and plan for these opportunities, the better. Even if you are working with a first-year student, consider referring them to ONSF (see below) and encouraging them to find out more about what may be available to them at various points in their undergraduate career and how to make the most of their UT experience well in advance of actually submitting anything by way of a formal application;
2) Nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships are no longer “bookish” in the sense that they consider only academic merit. Scholarship programs now expect students to be engaged in things beyond their classrooms, including leadership opportunities, undergraduate research, service, and significant experience at the national and international levels.
3) Encourage students to recognize the importance of connecting with their faculty, advisors, and peers. Students rely on these connections to help them get involved in opportunities on campus and beyond that make sense for what they hope to do in the future. Support these efforts by recommending students to your own colleagues, mentoring them through undergraduate research experiences, helping them to identify meaningful service learning opportunities, and so forth;
4) Help students develop strong written materials for their applications. These may include personal statements, research proposals, project purpose statements, and even written samples.
5) Agree to write a letter of recommendation for a student candidate only if you can write a good letter.
6) Consider becoming a member of one of our standing national scholarship review and interview committees. We currently have standing committees for a variety of opportunities and rely on our committees to select candidates and nominees. You are also welcome and encouraged to participate in mock interviews for those UT students selected to interview at the national level.
The ONSF regularly facilitates information sessions and workshops. You can learn more about these opportunities and share them with your students.