Here are a few ways you can assist your students in connecting with the ONSF and scholarship opportunities:
- As you and your colleagues recognize potential candidates for nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships, please encourage them to contact the ONSF to schedule an appointment to discuss the opportunities that may best suit their academic and professional ambitions;
- Fill out our ONSF student referral form and we will make a point of reaching out directly to that student to schedule an appointment.
When encouraging potential scholarship candidates, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind:
1) The earlier a student begins to think about and plan for these opportunities, the better. Even if you are working with freshman, consider encouraging them to find out more about what may be available to them at various points in their undergraduate careers 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. And, frankly, the idea of ‘well-rounded’ is even a bit out-of-date given that the co- and extra- curricular activities still need to circle back to connect with a students’ academic trajectory. That is, in part, why mentorship is key and why it is important that students make a point of talking with ONSF staff early on in their undergraduate experience;
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. While the ONSF is available to provide guidance on structure, getting started, and general editing of these materials, students rely heavily on the discipline-specific guidance available to them through their faculty and advising staff;
5) Agree to write a letter of recommendation for a student candidate only if you can write a good letter. In general, reference letters for nationally competitive opportunities require more detail than the average letter. Students who work closely with the ONSF receive guidance on selecting the best potential letter writers for their efforts and recognize that it is all about how well that letter-writer knows them, as opposed to how well the world knows the letter-writer. Be honest in your assessment of whether or not you are in a position to write a detailed account of the student as you have come to know them. Letters of recommendation are taken very (very) seriously by scholarship review committees as additional insight into the students’ preparation and potential, and weigh heavily in the final assessment of a candidate’s application;
6) As time allows, familiarize yourself with some of the most nationally recognized opportunities and search our growing database of opportunities;
7) 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. If you are interested in pursuing any of these opportunities, contact Nichole Fazio-Veigel, ONSF director, for more information.
The ONSF regularly facilitates information sessions and workshops. You can learn more about these opportunities and share them with your students by reviewing our ONSF calendar. We also regularly announce upcoming deadlines on our homepage and Facebook page.
We also have created departmental and/or discipline specific prospecti, available for your review and to print for distribution to your students and colleagues.