Hola, friends. Today, a small change from the usual talk of late about saving money and such. Stephen is a high-achieving guy from Idaho who’s considering taking a shot at big-time scholarship programs like Rhodes and Fulbright. Has he got what it takes to crack the most prestigious gigs in the world?
Hey. I’ve just finished my third year at Boise State University and I have some fairly pivotal decisions ahead (and I’m hoping you can help). Before I get going I’ll give you a sketch of my academic merit: I’m a triple major in Philosophy, English (writing) and Communication (mass comm/film) with roughly a 3.9 cumulative GPA (we employ a +/- system). My GPA would likely be closer to the 3.95 mark, but I successfully ran for student body president this spring. I’ve also written for the school paper, been a national youth board member for JACL (a Japanese American civil rights group) and been nominally involved with a handful of other campus and community groups.
Very nice indeed — no lack of academic merit there, for sure.
Here’s my dilemma: several faculty and students on campus have recommended that I consider applying for a Rhodes or other prestigious national scholarship. I am interesting in doing so, but would likely be best served by waiting another year so that I could apply with more accomplishments and a higher GPA.
I can see your point, and I agree. I’ll tell you why in a second.
If I did not apply for top scholarships, then I would be able to apply for schools this fall and not take a year off (I plan on attending graduate school either way).
If you’re against taking a year off, then that’s a good point. I don’t think that, for a high achiever like yourself, it’s any big deal to take a year off it you want to — but if you’re not interested in that, then I see your point here as well.
My chances of success would be fairly low coming from a mid-level university like Boise State, or at least it seems that way to me.
You’re right — they’d be low, at least historically speaking. Boise State students have received the Rhodes Scholarship, for example, only two times — once in 1979 and once in 1981. Compare that to over 300 from Harvard, over 200 from Yale, and hundreds more from the Ivies and other top-tier schools. It’s not impossible, but the odds are definitely stacked against you. That’s not to say, of course, that you don’t have all the right stuff to be no. 3, because you very well may — just laying out the statistics for you, though.
Add to that the fact that many of the applicants from those more prestigious schools have four years of work under their belts already, and you’ve just got three. That’s gonna take the already long odds and multiply them further.
Do you think it is worth the wait to try for the best, or should I just focus on other things?
Well, I definitely think that if you’re going to apply for the Rhodes and Fulbright scholarships, you should wait until next year. You’ll need an absolutely loaded resume for your best chance at becoming the third Boise State Bronco to crack the Rhodes list.
I haven’t seen your full resume and I also don’t know what you want to do with your life after school (I know you said grad school, but I mean after that). But if you’ve got the gumption to apply for them, then you might as well do it. If you win one of them, then obviously your options expand exponentially overnight.
And, worst-case scenario — hey, you gave it your best shot, and you’ll probably get a nice grad-school scholarship from wherever you decide to go.
You’re welcome. What about you all — what do YOU think Stephen should do? Let us know in the comments below.