Fellowships are honor awards from foundations seeking to sponsor tomorrow's leaders. Sometimes called scholarships, they grant funds for study, research, teaching, interning, self-designed projects, or participation in programs. Their common purpose is to cultivate leadership in its broadest sense by supporting and encouraging innovators, explorers (including researchers), activists, and teachers in all academic spheres.

This website will help you weigh the suitability of competing for a fellowship and provide resources for support if you do choose to apply. We encourage you to begin the process by reading through all of the topics presented here.

Fellowships are competitive

Unlike merit awards and scholarship aid, fellowships are competitions. Detailed applications, compelling essays, and academic project proposals are required. International programs require sponsors, as do some domestic programs. The process of applying for a fellowship is an accomplishment in itself, and the product of this effort will be useful for graduate school and other applications.

Traits of strong applicants

Fellowship foundations select talented students who are capable of and motivated to improve society, with a track record of achievement at a high level. In addition to high or solid academic achievement, fellowship programs select applicants who exhibit strong character, exemplified especially through community service and extracurricular initiatives.

Successful applicants are involved in life, take moral stands or sensible risks, push the envelope, expand their horizons, and embrace ever bigger challenges. Foundations seek those who stand out— whose accomplishments are normally achieved by older students.

Application assistance and advising

Cornell College is committed to fostering each student applicant such that they present the strongest and most complete impression of themselves. While the goal in pursuing a highly competitive award is to win, the true value in applying comes from the process of preparing your application and working with a mentor. The application represents a process of personal discovery and exploration that will enhance your education and the development of your scholarly interests. Such self-exploration and personal discovery are important aspects of the application, and should be conveyed clearly.

An application is a team effort involving the student, a faculty or staff advisor and another mentor. Laura Farmer, Director of the Writing Studio is responsible for coordinating award applications. She should be your first contact. Various faculty and staff members serve as advisors for particular scholarships/fellowships and will eventually be brought into the process.

Prior to applying

Before you complete an application or seek advice, you should read the information in the How to Apply section. It is never too early to consult this website, follow its suggestions and contact Laura Farmer, to begin work on your personal statement and other materials.


Begin the process in the academic year BEFORE the scholarship deadline, work diligently, revise often, and be in contact with your mentors.