By MEAGAN BRUNSON
‘Tis the season for scholarship deadlines, and BYU faculty coaches are anxious to give students tips and help them apply for BYU’s broad range of scholarships.
Steven Benzley, associate dean of general education and honors and faculty coach for a number of graduate and undergraduate scholarships, said students applying should be concerned with having a reasonable grade point average.
“It isn’t necessary to have a 4.0 to receive a scholarship,” Benzley said. “But having a GPA higher than a 3.5 will really make you competitive for a good scholarship.”
Benzley said proper faculty letters of support are also very important. If a student has done research for a particular faculty member or been a certain teacher’s assistant, that professor should be very well-equipped to write the student a great recommendation, he said.
Benzley also said students applying for scholarships should be participating in broadening activities, such as honors programs or clubs on campus, and should write about those in their applications.
“You should have some type of focus besides just being a good student,” Benzley said. “Do something that will make you look a little different, like service. There are so many opportunities like that at BYU.”
Benzley said some scholarships like the Goldwater and Truman scholarships are only available to students if the university recommends them, because of limited applicant space. Others, such as the National Science Foundation scholarship, allow BYU to endorse as many students as apply and are qualified.
“There is always room for more students to apply,” Benzley said. “There are so many scholarship opportunities.”
Sally Todd, assistant dean of student services in the school of education, who is also a scholarship faculty coach, said when students apply they should fill out all parts of the application prayerfully and carefully because they are read that way.
Todd said students should remember that their application, especially the essay part, is the only thing the reviewer, who does not know them personally, has to get to know them.
“They should prayerfully think it over, and then tell the person their story,” Todd said.
People reading applications read every word of them, Todd said. She said she thinks reviewers pray and really try to do what is right when deciding who should get scholarships.
She said students should explain their professional plans as specifically as possible, tell about their current activities and give reasons for needing scholarship help in their applications
“This is not a time to be modest,” Todd said. “Students should tell it like it is, but they shouldn’t exaggerate either.”
Todd also said that legibility and correct spelling make a scholarship application stand out as more professional. She said in the past, she might have been able to reward only 60 to 80 scholarships out of 350 applicants, so students should really do a thorough job applying.
Todd said it has been clear through applications she has read in the past that some students, even though they may not have had perfect GPA’s, are working hard in school, have high integrity and are also working to support themselves financially.
Todd said she thinks students who are doing all of these things to give life their best shot deserve scholarships.
“Students need to know a lot of people are going for them, and that scholarship decisions are made prayerfully,” Todd said.
She said students with high GPAs should also apply for university academic scholarships.
Todd also said it is essential for students to submit letters of appreciation to donors of their scholarships as soon as they are named recipients.
There are both graduate and undergraduate scholarships currently available for student application and deadlines are fast approaching.
Some graduate scholarships available include those from the Institute for Human Studies, National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowships, Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Pi. Undergraduate scholarships accepting applications are Goldwater, State Farm Exceptional Student Fellowship and Udall.
Katie Jones, a junior from Duarte, Calif. majoring in Spanish, said she is glad to know that her scholarship applications have been read completely and considered fairly.
“I think a lot of students are intimidated by the thought of applying for scholarships,” Jones said. “It makes me feel more confident to know that someone is going to take the time to read my whole application and really get to know me as a person.”