The University of Idaho Distinguished Scholarships Program helps all currently enrolled students and recent alumni learn about the many distinguished scholarships and fellowships available through governments, private donors, foundations, civic organizations, and corporations. Students from universities across the country compete for a set number of funds awarded at the national level. In this context, the terms scholarships and fellowships are often used interchangeably.
Nominations and Campus Deadlines
Many of the national foundations which grant these awards require students be nominated by their university in order to apply; students are not able to apply for these awards directly. The UI Distinguished Scholarships Program coordinates the campus selection process to select which students the university will nominate. Thus, you are initially applying for UI’s nomination for the award, rather than the award itself.
Because the UI must have time to conduct a campus selection process, the campus application deadline will be earlier than the final deadlines posted on the foundations’ websites. Students must meet the campus deadline to be considered for these awards, so it is important to plan ahead.
Some awards do not require a university nomination, and students may apply directly to the foundation granting the award. The UI Distinguished Scholarships Program works with many students to craft and revise applications for these types of awards as well.
Eligibility criteria are minimum requirements which students must meet in order to apply. The criteria which make a student competitive for an award is usually significantly higher than that for eligibility purposes. Some awards require students to be at a specific point in their college career (e.g., sophomore, junior). These are not defined by the number of credits you have completed or your UI-defined rank. This is defined by the amount of time left before you plan to graduate. If you are unclear as to whether you meet an award’s requirements, please contact us.
Start by gathering information and browsing the opportunities listed on this website. Our site provides brief descriptions of these awards; make sure to click through to the foundation’s official site for more information and full details about the award. Many of these sites have profiles of past winners — look through some of them. Do these students look like you? Do they sound like they have similar goals or aspirations to you? This can be a good sign of whether you may be a good match for the award.
Attend an information session hosted by the UI Distinguished Scholarships Program. If you are not able to attend an information session or none are scheduled for the opportunity which interests you, contact the program coordinator to set up an appointment.
Once you confirm that an award is right for you, you will begin drafting the application. The program coordinator and campus experts are here to help you with this stage — a large portion of our time is spent helping students draft and revise essays and short-answer questions for the application.
While each award has different eligibility and selection criteria, there are some things which can make students more competitive candidates for most awards:
- Keep your grades up.
- Participate in undergraduate research.
- Develop ongoing relationships with faculty whom you can call on for recommendations.
- Seek out international experiences.
- Find one or two meaningful activities where you aspire to a leadership role.
- Engage with your community. Successful students have ongoing involvement in community and service activities.
- Reflect on your goals. Think about what motivates you, what you want to do next after UI, and where you ultimately would like to end up professionally.
- Be purposeful. Make sure your activities move you towards your goals.
Consider the following opportunities and resources available to University of Idaho students: