Hey everyone I’m Lillian and welcome to my
channel. So applying for scholarships and fellowships
are always very difficult. And when I was applying for them, I found
that I got a lot of generic advice, like “start early” or y’know “set deadlines” and all of
that stuff. And while those things are important, I’ve
found that they don’t really contribute much to the actual application. So in this video I’m going to be going over
things that I’ve picked up as I’ve applied for scholarships and fellowships. So for those of you who don’t know me, I’m
a current PhD student in Biology at Harvard University. And what makes me qualified to give a video
like this? I worked at the Writing Center at my college
but in addition to that, I’ve won prestigious scholarships and fellowships such as the Goldwater
Scholarship, NSF GRFP, and the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. I’ve also not gotten a lot of things, so I
think I have a lot of experience in terms of what made my application successful and
what didn’t, and what habits I’ve picked up that have really started helping me out. So yeah, let’s get started. So the number one MOST important thing. If you get anything out of this video, it’s
this. Read the mission statement of the organization
or the scholarship. Here’s a bunch of people who want to find
someone qualified to fulfill some goal and in order to fulfill that, they want to give
you money. But they’re not just going to give money to
anyone, even if you’re amazing. They want to give money for a particular purpose. And I still think, having read a lot of fellowship
applications, that this is the number one mistake that people do. They don’t read the mission statement. The organization or scholarship is there to
fulfill a certain need, and even if you are the most incredible applicant in the world,
if you don’t fulfill that need, they’re not going to pick you for something. So as you’re putting your application package
together, you really have to think about what the purpose of the scholarship is, and what
you bring to the table. So next. Now that you have read the mission statement
(and believe me, you need to read the mission statement), what you need to do is write the
mission statement down. Make sure that every single part of your application
relates back to that mission statement. So what do I mean by that? If the mission statement is to fund future
leaders in science, use the word “leader”. Talk about your leadership skills. You can’t just not address that. So many sure 1) that the essays reflect back
and use the language of those mission statements, but 2) also make sure that your letter of
recs reflect that as well. It’s one thing to say that you are a leader
or you will encourage diversity in this field or whatever the mission statement is. But it’s another thing for people who are
recommending you to say that. So by the time you’re done with your essays
and by the time you’re asking for letters of rec, you need to have that mission statement
down and make sure that your letter of rec writers know it as well and refer to it. And when you’re done with those essays, you
need to go back and make sure you’ve addressed it. So that really is the most important thing. Like really, the mission statement. I’m going ot mention some other stuff, but
really, the mission statement part, is what made me an average applicant to an applicant
that stood out and won a lot of these awards. So. Mission statement. Another important thing you want to do is
read sample essays for the fellowship or scholarship you’re applying to. My college didn’t have much access to sample
essays for scholarships I was applying for. Some colleges do, and if so, go to your fellowships
or scholarships office and they’ll have stuff like that. And if not, ask around. When I was applying to Goldwater a lot of
my friends knew winners of Goldwater and they were more than willing to pass on their applications
to help me. Just know, especially for fellowships where
you’re proposing something, things can often be confidential. There may be data that isn’t published yet
or things that are secret that are not actually allowed to be made known to the public. That goes for me too – most of my applications
have things that are confidential… so sorry about that. For popular scholarships and fellowships,
you can probably find sample essays online. And there’s another thing you want to think
about here. There’s sample winning essays and sample losing
essays. And I think both are important. Obviously the sample winning essays have a
little bit more weight, so if you’re looking for anything look people who have won the
fellowships before. But if you can get on some essays that didn’t
get funded, that is helpful as well because you can actually see the difference between
the essays that did get funded and the ones that didn’t and make sure you that you don’t
make the same mistakes that maybe happened in the essays that didn’t get funded. So most people at this point would be saying
things like “Make sure you don’t have typos.” And… typos, yeah, you don’t want to have
a lot of typos, but I think i’ve had a typo in every single application I’ve submitted
and I still got funded.It was only one but it was still there and I was so exasperated
when I discovered it and thought I wouldn’t be funded but then I was. So I’d say, yes, look for typos, but also
make sure that you actually met the guidelines and the format instructions that the fellowship
or the scholarship has provided. If you make a typo, that’s not going to disqualify
you. But if the scholarship or the fellowship SPECIFICALLY
said “have 1-inch margins on all sides” and you don’t have 1-inch margins on all sides,
that will disqualify you. You don’t want them to think that you don’t
know how to follow basic instructions. So follow basic instructions. And the last thing I’m going to say is so
cliche… Be yourself! Don’t try to be someone who you aren’t because
it is easy to spot. Present yourself as you are. When I used to work at the writing center,
a lot of people would present very grandiose pictures of who they are and their personality
was fake in these applications. And believe me, you can tell. It’s very hard to be someone other than who
you are so just accept yourself as you are – with your limitations and your strengths. You are who you are and just because you aren’t
perfect doesn’t mean you are not worthy of getting a scholarship or a fellowship. In fact, people want to know who it is that
they’re funding. And you are way more likely to get one of
the awards if they have a sense of who you are rather than who you want to be. So yeah, that’s about it. I really think I started being successful
when I discovered how to do all this. And there isn’t a straightforward way to do
any of this. Except for reading the mission statement – that
is straightforward and just do it. And successful applications are often funded
after a lot of practice. I was rejected from 15 fellowships before
I ever got my first one. If you don’t get a fellowship, try and get
feedback. A lot of fellowships in particular, if you
don’t get funded, they come with reviewer comments where they tell you what this reviewer
thought and what could be improved in your application. But if for example a scholarship or fellowship
doesn’t come with comments, maybe you can ask – the head of an organization and see
if there’s anyway they can give you feedback on how to strengthen your application. That being said, if it’s a really big organization
or if they say no, don’t pester them. You can also ask professors around you or
your teachers for more advice. Feedback is the #1 thing that has helped me
the most when it came to rejected applications and turning those into successful ones. And if you get a rejection? That’s life. It’s a part of the process and it’s very common
for people to get rejected. It doesn’t mean that you are deficient in
any way. It could mean that one of the reviewers was
just having a bad day. A lot of it is luck, so just remember that. That being said, just because luck is a huge
component of this does not mean that you shouldn’t do your research. Make sure that your application is specifically
tailored to meet the needs of that scholarship or fellowship. They are going to give money to people who
they think will fulfill their goals. So yeah. Those are really the basics, I think, for
how to get a successful application. Everything else is just practice and luck. I’m going to be making specific videos about
the fellowships and scholarships that I’ve received as they’re rather competitive and
it can be difficult to find advice about them online. So if you learned anything at all from this
video, please like it and subscribe. I’ll be making a lot more videos like this
in the coming weeks because IT’S APPLICATION SEASON. And I want to give back all the help I’ve
received. If you have any other advice to contribute,
please leave it in the comments section. Not only would I be grateful because I’m always
looking for more advice, but I’m sure other people would be grateful as well. So yeah, thanks for watching.

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About the Author: Oren Garnes


  1. Thank you Melea, tho I had to put the vid onto 1.5x, I'm more confident applying for scholarships now and learned a lot from you. Keep it uppp!!!
    Subscribed for Naruto lol :))

    Srsly, idk how the vid suggestion got me here :))

  2. Thanks for the advice… May you please make videos about your journey through undergrad and/or even HS? Perhaps even a video on how/why you chose biology as well as being a polymath. Some advice on your experiences with applying to and getting into grad school (especially one of Harvard's esteem) would be greatly appreciated as well and would probably help a lot of people. (I'm also a big fan of Naruto.)

  3. You know I love your videos. I started watching them because of your video about you daily life as a phd student… I am from India and though my dream is to get into harvard for phd I really don't know much about it and your videos are helping me a lot…In fact , you are becoming my role model…Keep on making such videos and thanks for sharing…

  4. You know I love your videos. I started watching them because of your video about you daily life as a phd student… I am from India and though my dream is to get into harvard for phd I really don't know much about it and your videos are helping me a lot…In fact , you are becoming my role model…Keep on making such videos and thanks for sharing…

  5. Are you planning on creating a Goldwater scholarship guide video? Is it possible to share your won application or is there confidential information enclosed?

  6. I really want to apply for these scholarships, including the Ford scholarship. I have research experience and even a paper which I will present at a decent international conference in about two weeks. But my grades have always been really bad largely owed to my lack of ability to focus and pay attention (without any particular intellectual motivation) and my anxiety. My undergrad gpa is like a 2.4 and my current graduate gpa is a 3.1. I hope to raise my grad gpa to a 3.6. Will I still have a decent chance?

  7. I've really enjoyed the video and guidelines. in fact you've encouraged me not loosing hope. Luck is also part of this, which some winners do deny telling me. thanks much.

  8. Great Video and thanks for sharing. I also want to share and also ask a few questions if u dont mind. I saw that Harvard provides funding for 5 years for phd students in many forms, that is nice but ,do u know what are they expecting in return? Well I was wondering doing a phd on physics and was wondering if I get some ideas during my phd and later after my phd got some more ideas and thought to do a startup, does Harvard expect a share in the startup ( this is deifferent because I am not developing products using the uni's lab but just write my ideas on paper)? Just wondering, please feep free to answer if you know something about it. Thanks in advance for your time.

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