Scholarship applications typically are made up of the following items:

  1. Application forms
  2. Application essays
  3. A résumé
  4. Letters of recommendation
  5. Interviews


  • Focus on your personal experience, academic pursuits, intellectual development or a combination thereof
  • Provide selection committees with information about you, the qualities you possess, and your writing ability
  • Should be truthful, organized, clear, and effective while finding the delicate balance between modesty and boasting

Writing the essay:

  • Illustrate the qualities you possess through stories, relevant activities, and other narrative means
  • Show, don’t tell. Your résumé and letters of recommendation can do the “telling” for you
  • Try creating several drafts, using different angles of approach, to lead you to the right version
  • Be prepared to write multiple drafts before you even begin to fine-tune the wording and grammatical style
  • Have professors, mentors, Dean Goldberg, and others read your work and provide honest, critical feedback

Letters of Recommendation (LORs)

  • Depending on the scholarship, you may be asked to acquire anywhere between two to eight letters of recommendation
  • Need to be strong endorsements of you as a scholar and as a person (ask each recommender if s/he will be able to do so before proceeding; if s/he is not able to provide you with a strong LOR, ask someone else)
  • Should be written by individuals who know you well enough to address your strengths and potential, particularly with respect to the scholarship’s selection criteria

When asking for letters of recommendation:

  • Provide your recommenders with copies of your application, essays, résumé, and transcripts
  • Tell your recommenders why you are interested in the scholarship, the scholarship’s selection criteria, and even what you might like them to address in their letter
  • Provide your recommenders with instructions regarding where and how to submit their letters
  • Provide your recommenders with adequate time to write a strong letter; never ask at the last minute

The Résumé

  • Should list your activities, research papers, awards/honors, presentations/publications, and leadership experiences
  • Should be honest and fulsome; don’t skimp on the details
  • May be more than a page long, depending upon the application requirements

The Interview

  • Some scholarships will request a telephone or in-person interview
  • The formality and length of the interview will be dictated by the scholarship foundation
  • Interviews explore the limits of your knowledge as well as your communication and critical thinking skills
  • Relax and enjoy the interview