Earn the Competitive Advantage

Who wins prestigious awards? Typically it is someone who is passionate about their 'thing'. At UB, we are committed to helping you capitalize on your strengths and find your niche by providing you with the tools and guidance you need to succeed.

Phillip Tucciarone, 2014 British Marshall Scholarship winner among a group of Marshall Scholars in the UK.

On this page:

Achieve Academic Excellence

  • Scholarship winners have strong academic credentials. Winners typically have GPAs that are 3.5 and higher.
  • They have demonstrated intellectual passion for their subject. They have done original work, completed a major research thesis, enrolled in honors level courses and achieved academic excellence in both their major and minor.
  • They are involved. Oftentimes, our winners are a part of the University Honors College or the Advanced Honors Program.
  • They are informed. These students are familiar with trends in their field of study, important research questions and are knowledgeable about the current literature. They are well rounded and can converse about subjects of local, regional and international interest and are familiar with what is happening in the world.
  • Our winners go above and beyond. They seek out opportunities to engage with faculty in their department and field, and have depth and breadth in their course of study. They attend departmental talks, regional conferences and national conferences.

Build Your Leadership Portfolio

Seek out leadership opportunities in organizations that are important to you. Most scholarship committees are looking for individuals who have demonstrated leadership throughout their careers. Participate in organizations, move into leadership roles when appropriate and challenge yourself to make a difference. UB's Office of Student Engagement offers workshops, leadership certificates and opportunities to connect with on- and off-campus organizations.

There are two types of leadership:

  • "Little L” leadership is when you assume a leadership role that is already clearly defined (e.g., you are elected to fulfill a position, you take on an RA position or are an officer in a club).
  • "Big L” leadership is when you see a need in society or the world and you lead to create a solution. Typically "big L” leadership goes beyond the confines of UB. For the most competitive fellowships, "big L” leadership is more attractive.

Engage in Creative Projects and Activities

  • Study Abroad. Winners typically have studied abroad at least once. Students interested in opportunities with an international emphasis (e.g., Fulbright, Boren or major UK awards) should have a carefully laid out plan to participate in study abroad and language acquisition.
  • Learn another language. Knowledge of critical languages and study in countries of interest to the U.S. government are especially important.
  • Do some research. Many of our scholarship winners have engaged in multiple research projects, both at UB and through funded summer research experiences for undergraduates. At UB, students have the opportunity to engage in research with faculty members for credit, or through specific research programs. Sometimes students propose research projects and are funded through the University Honors College, CURCA or their school or department. Students typically present their research on campus and at national conferences.
  • Participate in an internship. Academically related internships are opportunities to challenge you, gain valuable work experience and obtain career specific mentoring. An added benefit: internship mentors can write letters of recommendation for fellowships and scholarships.

Exhibit Social Responsibility

  • Participate in meaningful co-curricular activities over a sustained period of time. Although one-time events and volunteer opportunities are important, work over a longer period of time is more significant.
  • Seek experiences with causes and organizations that are important to you. You will be more fulfilled, make more contributions and make the most difference. UB's Office of Student Engagement can help you, help others.
  • Look beyond campus for work. The local community is filled with non-profit and community organizations that are eager to find passionate and committed volunteers. Alternative spring break trips, mission trips through churches and synagogues and student lead initiatives are places for meaningful volunteer work.

Seek Faculty Mentors

Having strong faculty mentors is critical for success with scholarships. Students can develop these relationships both in and out of class by doing the following:

  • Distinguish yourself positively with your faculty in class.
  • Attend office hours and engage the faculty member in conversation about the class.
  • Attend seminars with faculty in your major.
  • Enroll in honors level courses where you have the opportunity.
  • Participate in research.

Students in the University Honors College can also participate in honors contracts on topics of interest to them.

All of these things can promote meaningful dialogue and build relationships. Faculty members then are able to write strong letters of recommendation and share detailed information about your skills, abilities and future potential. It is important to have positive relationships with multiple faculty members as scholarships often require three to 10 letters of recommendation.

Remember, strong letters of recommendation must say something meaningful about you. If the only thing a faculty member can say about you is that you did well in their class, you will not have a strong recommendation.