FAQs

Why should I apply?

You should apply because you will learn a lot about yourself and your areas of interest by doing so; you will become a better writer; and you will assemble a group of supporters for the next phase of your life. Not all who apply win a scholarship, but everyone who does benefits greatly from the process.

Is there a minimum GPA?

Some of the scholarships do have a minimum GPA: please consult their websites. For those that do, it is typically at or above a 3.7 overall GPA at the time of one’s application. While other scholarships may have no stated minimum, successful applicants are usually above a 3.7 overall.

How many students are nominated from UT for the various awards?

Only a few of the scholarships require institutional endorsement. Others you may apply for yourself, and directly. Please consult their individual websites.

What kind of student is typically selected to receive these types of awards?

Each scholarship’s individual website will feature a description of its ideal applicant. That said, there is no single type of student who receives these awards. But those who do so are typically exceptional in some way or ways and invariably passionate about a cause or field. Such students have often displayed leadership, both on and off campus, and are able to carry on spontaneous and intelligent conversations with others about a variety of topics.

What are my chances of being selected for a scholarship?

You can’t win a race you don’t enter, so applying is the first and most necessary step to being selected.

Who should write my letter(s) of recommendation?

The best letters of recommendation are the most detailed. Given the choice between a recommendation on prestigious letterhead, or from someone who knows you extremely well and can speak honestly to your strengths and talents, you want the latter. Ideally, you want both.

 How should I approach my recommenders?

 You already know your best recommenders well. Even so, you should speak with them early and in person about your interest in a distinguished scholarship: email is fine if you are at a distance, but this is something best done in person or on the telephone. Visiting a supporter can help clarify your goals, as well as refresh that person’s memory about your talents. Be sure to give them adequate notice, and do provide specific details about how and where a recommendation is to be submitted.

 What resources can you recommend besides the links on this and career services sites?

An excellent guide to writing effective prose is John Trimble’s Writing With Style(any edition).

A provocative handbook for deepening your thinking is Edward De Bono’s Lateral Thinking: Creativity Step by Step.

Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Dieis also worth consulting as you think about framing your materials.

What kinds of questions might I get asked in an interview?

Committees will want to know about your goals in life and your talents to see whether you’re the best bet for the scholarship money. Anything you’ve said in your application, or that’s contained on your c.v., is fair game for further questions. That said, an interview may also be about testing your range and flexibility as a thinker. Because your field or fields of expertise (say, computer science or art history or government) will be your own, only you can predict specific questions in those areas. In contrast, there are general questions that come up from time to time. While you might never get asked any of these, some combination of questions like them wouldn’t be unusual as part of an interview.

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What are your weaknesses?
  3. Why are you interested in the [insert name of scholarship/fellowship/program]?
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years? 20?
  5. What can you offer the scholarship program that someone else can not?
  6. What are three things your professors and friends would like you to improve on?
  7. Tell us about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  8. Tell us about a time you made a mistake.
  9. Tell us about the specifics of the program you wish to study in. What tools can it provide that you can’t get elsewhere?
  10. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days in the program?
  11. Discuss your résumé. What does it leave out?
  12. Tell us about your educationalbackground. Does it have an arc?
  13. Describe yourself objectively.
  14. Tell us how you handled a difficult situation.
  15. Why should we award you this fellowship?
  16. How would you deal with an angry colleague or teacher?
  17. Describe a time you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  18. What was your biggest failure?
  19. What motivates you?
  20. Who’s your mentor?
  21. Tell us about a time when you disagreed with a friend or colleague.
  22. How do you handle pressure?
  23. What are your career goals?
  24. What gets you up in the morning?
  25. What would your colleagues say about you?
  26. If we called your professors right now and asked them for an area that you could improve on, what would they say?
  27. Are you a leader or a follower?
  28. What was the last book you’ve read for fun? How would you change it?
  29. What are your hobbies? What do they say about you?
  30. What’s your favorite website?
  31. Who are the five individuals who have had the most influence on your field?
  32. What makes you uncomfortable?
  33. How would you fire someone?
  34. What do you like the most and least about your field of study?
  35. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  36. How would you define servant leadership?
  37. In 50 words or fewer, describe what skills and knowledge you can bring to the program you’re applying to.
  38. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you have and why?
  39. Humans make mistakes. Please share with us a time where you’ve made a mistake which had a significant impact on your friends or colleagues, what mistake was that, and what remedy you took.
  40. How do you motivate others?
  41. In a team environment, what role do you usually take?
  42. How do you handle criticism?
  43. What is your philosophy toward your work?
  44. If you had to compare how you make decisions, to which animal do you think you would be most similar and why?
  45. If you have a say in the decision made by a team and find yourself quite against theirs, will you stick with yours?
  46. How would your best friend describe you?
  47. What three things do you need to be successful in this program?
  48. If we were to talk to one of your athletic coaches or music teachers, what might they recommend as an area of improvement for you?
  49. What are your long-term motivations?
  50. Tell us about a time you did the right thing and no one saw you do it.
  51. [Someone hands you an object and asks you to think about it/describe it/present it imaginatively: do so.]
  52. What do you worry about, and why?
  53. How do you define success? Do you measure up to your own definition?
  54. What was a situation you handled poorly in the past and how would you handle it in the future?
  55. What do friends or colleagues say is your best quality?
  56. If you were left in the woods with only the items in this room, what would you build?
  57. Give us an example of when you failed at something. How did you react and how did you overcome failure?
  58. What is your favorite palindrome?
  59. Which of the two animals would you say you are most like — a sheep or a wolf — and why?
  60. What does family mean to you?
  61. If you were an animated character, who would you be and why?
  62. What are the titles of the last three books you have read? Tell us how you related to one of the characters.
  63. Tell us about yourself.
  64. What’s your greatest fear?
  65. Tell us something about UT. What are its strengths? Its weaknesses?
  66. Who has inspired you in your life and why?
  67. What qualities should a team leader have?
  68. What changes would you make in your life if we select you today?
  69. Patriotism has been called “the last refuge of a scoundrel.” When is this true?
  70. Tell us about when you’ve succeeded under pressure.
  71. If we went to your last employer and ask them to tell us about you, what would they say? Now, if we went to your best friend and asked them to tell us about you — personally, not professionally — what would they say? What should we learn from the differences between the descriptions?
  72. Would you rather be liked or respected?
  73. If an employer asked you to jump, would you ask “How high”? Or, would you ask, “Why do you want me to jump”?
  74. Tell us an insight you’ve had that you’re reluctant to share with others.
  75. Build a better country for us by drawing on the strengths of five different cultures or political systems. What are they, and what should we borrow or imitate?
  1. Fill out a dinner party seating chart with five women from history. Who are they, and why did you select them?
  2. Talk about an error/mistake you made and how you went about resolving it.
  3. Tell us something you’ve done that goes against all social conventions, yet you did it anyway because it was the right thing to do!
  4. What law should we change tomorrow?
  5. If you were us, would you select a person like you, and why?
  6. What were some of the first impressions you got from walking into and waiting for a few minutes outside?
  7. Describe for us your most ideal environment.
  8. Tell us about a situation where you exceeded the expectations of your role.
  9. When do you know you have delivered something outstanding?
  10. What should we associate with your name?
  11. What traits does a good student need to succeed? How do these differ when you get out of school?
  12. Can you tell us about a situation that was difficult and how you were able to overcome it?
  1. What would you like to change (positively) about the city of Austin if you could, and how would you do that?
  2. Explain how you will add value to our program if selected.
  3. Where did you get your news this morning?
  4. What was the most interesting piece of news you read or saw? Why was it particularly interesting to you?
  5. What’s your guess as to the presidential nominees for each party in the next election? What are their strengths and weaknesses?
  6. What political decision has affected your life the most?
  7. If you were to go abroad and teach someone about America using one novel, one film, and one poem, what would they be, and why?
  8. What one skill do you possess that will most impact our program?
  9. What do you love best about our campus?
  10. Why should we select you?
  11. What questions haven’t we asked you?
  12. What questions do you have for us?