The National and International Scholarships Program strives to create a campus community that is aware of prestigious scholarship opportunities and cultivates potential scholars from the time they apply to Illinois to the time they receive an award. In doing so, NIS challenges undergraduates to maximize their departmental and community engagement through research and service to make the most of their time at Illinois. Then, NIS works with students and young alumni to best present their qualifications through their application materials.
While the program is glad to celebrate and coordinate press releases for scholarship recipients (the University of Illinois perennially is a leader in scholarship recipients, with students annually earning hundreds of thousands of dollars in awards), the program maintains a much broader definition of success. Students report that the qualitative benefits of applying for a scholarship supersede potential monetary awards. For most students, NIS provides their first opportunity to receive and respond to in-depth critiques of a written application and rigorous interview. Applicants regularly cite improved writing skills, guided introspection, a cohesive career plan, and better graduate school submissions as a result of applying for a scholarship. In a random survey of 40 students who came in contact with the office, 32 students agreed, “The advising I received from this office made me more aware of Illinois resources for intellectual, professional, and personal development.” Even more telling, 32 agreed (including 21 who strongly agreed) that “After working with NIS, I feel better able to articulate the contribution I hope to make to the world.”