Frequently Asked Questions

Gustavus Fellowships Office

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What are national and international scholarships/fellowships?

Money granted by national and international foundations that is available to help you:

  • finance your education here at Gustavus
  • finance travel/study/teaching opportunities abroad during or after your studies at Gustavus
  • finance graduate school

Many of these programs are the most prestigious academic awards available to undergraduate and graduate students.

What’s the difference between a scholarship and a fellowship?

It just depends on what the foundation offering the money chooses to call it. To be a Rhodes Scholar or Fulbright Fellow, for example, indicates that you have been selected for financial support because of the high caliber of your demonstrated academic and co-curricular achievements.

Who’s eligible for this money?

Does it matter what your major is?

There are awards available for most majors and areas of study, but some will specify preferences or exclusions, so check carefully.

Does it matter what career path you think you might choose?

There are awards available for most career objectives, too. Some awards do specify preferred or exclusive career objectives, so again look carefully.

How important is my GPA?

That depends somewhat on the individual scholarship, but it's usually quite important to have at least a 3.5; much higher for some such as British Marshall and Rhodes Scholar (3.7 or higher). Extracurricular activities, research, internships, volunteerism, and paid or unpaid work are very important components of your application.

How important are extracurricular activities and sports?

That depends upon the scholarship. For some, these items are fairly unimportant. For others, they can play a major role. Check with the individual application materials and/or see the Fellowships Coordinator. However, if you think you fit the description of a candidate with one or two minor exceptions, check before you self-exclude!

Think carefully about your goals. Read through the summaries of the scholarships and fellowships. Once you've decided which awards would further your goals and which you might be eligible for, visit the web site for that scholarship and read further. Most applications are now available for downloading and printing your own copy. Read through the application materials carefully, writing down any questions you may have. Talk with your faculty adviser or the faculty member with whom you are working on a research or creative project about your goals and your interest in fellowship applications.

Next, schedule an appointment with Alisa Rosenthal, Fellowships Coordinator (Old Main 204H) , to discuss any questions you may have. She will provide guidance and advice thoughout the application process. Send her dates and times you are available and she will confirm an appointment.

When should I start working on the application?

Now! It is never too early to start. Most applications are very time-consuming. They cannot be done well without many edits; there must not be any typos, misspelling or grammatical errors. You will need to gather letters of recommendation; transcripts; and sometimes photos, samples of your work, high school transcripts, etc. Preparing seriously for several fellowship programs, and being successful, may take as much effort as completing an academic course at the university. The rewards are worth the effort.

What about the essays?

The essays are generally considered the most time-consuming part of the application, and they are usually the most important (along with the letters of recommendation), so allow yourself plenty of time to work on them, create rough drafts, revise, revise, and revise again! Work on these drafts with your professors, with the Writing Center, and with the Fellowships Coordinator.

What should I include in my essays?

The first thing you should do is look closely at the wording of the actual question posed to you! Realize that the committee or board that put together this application form spent a lot of time formulating the questions. Each word is included in each question for a reason. Speak directly to the question posed. Be sure to answer all parts of it.

Is there anything specific I should know about getting letters of reference from professors or employers?

Most committees are very strict about not accepting applications past the posted due date. Deadlines are of paramount importance. If there is a campus deadline, the application and all supporting materials are due in Old Main 204H by NOON on the deadline date. Materials submitted for campus deadlines should be as complete and professional as you would submit to an external review committee.

If necessary, the Fellowship Advisory Committee (FAC) will review your application, interview you and give you feedback. Those applications are reviewed and outstanding applications are then nominated to be forwarded to the national foundations/organizations. You will continue to make finishing touches to the application with the Fellowships Coordinator until you have a polished document. For institutionally-nominated scholarships, you will turn in the final copy and all supporting materials to the Fellowships Office well before the deadline. The nomination letter will be written and the completed application mailed to the foundation or organization that will judge it.

Will there be an interview?

For select applications, yes, there are. The Fellowships Coordinator will assist you in preparation for both on-campus and off-campus interviews.