Know your Timeline

Your timeline toward a national award starts as soon as you step foot on campus.

While some may not apply for scholarships or fellowships until  junior or senior year, it is imperative that you continuously learn, explore, and expand your experiences. To strengthen your candidacy, follow our suggested timelines:

  • Take courses that will both enrich your academic career as well as satisfy graduation requirements. Don't just take any course that will fit into your schedule to satisfy requirements.
  • Avoid large lecture classes whenever possible. If you must take a large lecture class, be sure to take advantage of the professor's office hours.
  • Take charge. Don't wait for others to come to you; it's up to you to make sure that you are not just another student face in the crowd. Network, attend faculty office hours, and develop mentoring relationships with faculty, staff, and others.
  • Participate in brown bag seminars and attend departmental and public lectures.
  • Carve a unique niche for yourself, exploring and developing your various interests and talents. Don't be shy, and don't let unique or interesting opportunities pass you by.
  • Get involved in significant extracurricular and service activities that interest you.
  • Find ways to present your own research, significant public service, or internship experiences to others.
  • Put your name on various electronic newsletters around campus. This is a great way to find out what's going on, learn about funding or unique educational opportunities, and meet faculty and others who share your interests.
  • Use your summers wisely. Partake in research, internships, and community service projects in the U.S. or abroad. Consider applying for Research Experience for Undergraduates (REU).
  • Apply for various scholarships, departmental awards, and so on.
  • Have fun!

Director David Schug discusses why to apply for a variety of scholarships.


Starting with your freshman year of college, following are our suggestions to you in making the most of your experience.

The Freshman Year

Begin to take control of your education now.

  • Look for interesting, well-taught courses.
  • Take courses that will enrich your academic career or are of interest to you.
  • Don't take just any course simply to satisfy a Gen Ed or other requirements.
  • Don't go for the easy grade at the expense of a challenging and enriching class.

This is also the time to take advantage of the myriad of academic and intellectual resources available to you.

  • Get to know your advisor, department faculty, and college deans.
  • Develop mentoring relationships with faculty, staff, and upperclassmen.
  • Go to faculty office hours and discuss academic and social concerns and interests.
  • Seek out research and independent study opportunities.

The Sophomore Year

Continue in your academic pursuits and begin applying for awards.

  • Engage in research, internship, and independent study opportunities.
  • Continue taking small, research-oriented seminars or other challenging courses.
  • Start taking upper-division (300-level) courses.
  • Apply for fellowships or scholarships from your department, college, leadership center, or study abroad office, as well as nationally competitive awards such as the Goldwater and Udall.
  • Apply for external grants if you have an interesting research or community service project in mind.

The      Junior      Year

This is probably your most important year.

  • Write preliminary drafts of scholarship or fellowship materials for applications for which you will be eligible during your senior year.
  • Apply for fellowships and scholarships such as the BeineckeGoldwaterTruman, and Udall.
  • Do an honors thesis or other major research or independent study project that is of interest to you.
  • Grow seriously involved in your own or others' public service projects. Note that you might want to find or devise a project that's related to your academic or professional interests.
  • Take mostly upper-division courses.


The      Senior      Year

Many scholarship or fellowship deadlines occur early in the fall semester.

  • Even if you submitted a priority application in the summer, you'll need to receive official university endorsement and complete your applications at this time.
  • Submit your applications prior to their deadlines.

Study Abroad is a wonderful opportunity that everyone should consider.

If you're studying abroad and plan to apply for a prestigious scholarship upon your return, the following advice is especially important:

  • After seeing a Study Abroad advisor, make an appointment with us.
  • Set up independent study courses with professors from whom you'd like to have strong letters of recommendation.
  • Try to avoid taking Gen Ed courses abroad; use your time wisely by developing your intellectual and career interests.
  • While abroad, don't fall victim to the out-of-sight, out-of-mind syndrome. Stay in touch with your professors and department.
  • Integrate as much as possible with your host culture.
  • Develop mentoring relationships with your professors abroad. Upon your return, stay in touch with them and explore the possibilities of returning abroad for graduate study.
  • Get involved with your host community through organizations, internships, independent study or research, English language tutoring, and community service or volunteer projects. Upon your return, find ways to share these experiences with others.

Former Global Studies Director Laura Hastings discusses studying abroad.