Photo and story by Daniel Shaw-Remeta / Contributing Writer
Honors College Adviser Laura Clippard talked to students about scholarships and fellowships Monday in the Paul W. Martin Sr. Honors Building on campus. Her talk was a part of the 2018 spring Honors Lecture Series, which addresses a new subtopic each week in relation to this semester’s topic of “American Values.”
Clippard gave a presentation about the large assortment of scholarships, fellowships, study abroad programs and leadership organizations that can be beneficial for students looking to earn money for school or to add experience to their resume.
“Sometimes people say, ‘What is a fellowship? How is that different than a scholarship?’” Clippard said upon beginning her presentation. “A fellowship usually has something attached to it. You can study in South Korea for eight to 10 months with a full ride. You can usually have money and national recognition from Phi Kappa Phi, but there are usually extra benefits to these fellowships.”
Clippard continued by explaining a little bit about how keeping track of the leadership activities students complete is key when students are trying to obtain scholarships and fellowships. She also stated that, although the activities will vary depending on a student’s area of focus, keeping a log of what they did during a leadership activity will set them apart from other applicants.
“You need to define your leadership role because the chances are you might end up writing about that in a personal statement,” she said.
She went on to emphasize the importance of getting quality letters of recommendation when applying for scholarships and fellowships and outlined some of the most common mistakes students make when asking for a letter of recommendation. She said that the people that students use as references should know the students well, should be able to comment on the student’s work habits and personal qualities and should be able to list concrete evidence of the student’s talents. The most important thing, she said, was to give references a month to write the letter.
“If you want a letter of recommendation from a faculty member, give them a month,” she said. “Don’t give them a week. Don’t give them two weeks. Give them a month.”
Clippard also talked about how students should go about writing a personal statement when applying for scholarships, fellowships or anything at all.
“Ninety-nine percent of students don’t enjoy writing about themselves,” she said. “When you do a personal statement, basically what you’re supposed to do is talk about your academic background, your family background and things that have inspired you to do whatever you’re applying for.”
She continued by saying that it is important for students to reflect deeply when writing a personal statement because it is a sure way to set themselves apart from other applicants. Before talking extensively about many opportunities for students to earn money and gain experience and recognition, she noted that many of the things she was addressing during her lecture were time-consuming tasks and recommended that students begin working on them as soon as possible.
She continued by explaining ways to get involved with the MTSU Undergraduate Research Center and its programs, including the Critical Language Scholarship, the Fulbright program and many others. Many programs involved traveling abroad, learning or teaching foreign languages and research projects or requirements.
Clippard pointed out that even if students don’t always get what they are looking for when applying for scholarships, programs and fellowships, the practice will prove to be useful as they progress through school and enter into the business world.
“Life is a journey,” Clippard said. “We don’t know where we’re going to end up. We don’t know what we’re going to do. It’s about making the process a good one for you so you can benefit from it.”
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