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Welcome to the Office of National Scholarships’ Resource page. We hope that you will find our tips for developing your profiles as a competitive scholarship candidate useful. Each scholarship is different, but there are some general guidelines that you can follow to ensure you are a top candidate.

How to Develop a Competitive Profile

As a candidate for merit-based awards, you will need to present yourself as more than academically strong. You need to have strong credentials in leadership, research, and civic & global engagement. Keep in mind that a competitive profile is a continual work in progress. You will add to your profile with each achievement, award and position you earn. To help you map out the goals and accomplishments you want to reach over the next few years, use our 3 year plan. Write down benchmarks to attain—research, publications, leadership, scholarships & awards, and internships—and reference this as a “map” for the immediate future. Start here by Creating a profile

Creating an Academic Resume

For competitive, merit-based scholarships, you will want to have an updated academic resume, or curriculum vitae. This is different from a career resume. Your resume should be a reflection of your accomplishments as an undergraduate and graduate student. Use the Resume Template here as a way to start your academic resume. Fill in your accomplishments and note where your strengths and weaknesses are. If you notice any missing components, work to fill them in.

  • Highlight what makes you special. Include your research, leadership opportunities and unique facts that make you stand out from the other applicants.
  • Use recent accomplishments. You should begin building your profile as an undergraduate freshman! As you accomplish things in college, you should remove your awards and highlights from high school.
  • Proofread! A sloppy resume will reflect poorly on you and your application.
Personal Essays

For many awards, you will be asked to write essays, often to explain who you are, why you are applying, and what you plan on accomplishing with the award. Your essays are your chance to convince a panel why you deserve to win this award. You need to make them feel connected to you, your story, and your future. Stick by these key points:

  • Be honest! Your essays should reflect YOU. Make sure you are genuine about your accomplishments, goals and promises.
  • Be concise! You are given a strict number of characters or words for each essay and you must stay in the limits! Write clearly and precisely to communicate what you want within your limitations.
  • Don’t put it off! Start writing early (at least 6 weeks before the deadline!) so you can get feedback and revise your essays before the final deadline. Utilize your friends, the Writing Center in the Library and our office to polish your writing.
For more help, we recommend that you consult Writing Personal Statements Online by Joe Schall

visit the OWL Purdue writing website (
Or visit this excellent article on Personal Statements

Letters of Recommendation

Some awards will require faculty letters of recommendation. You should carefully consider who you ask to write on your behalf. Your recommenders should know you very well and be able to talk about more than your classwork; they should be able to write about your research, goals, personality and other qualities not reflected by transcripts and resumes. With few exceptions, letter writers should be faculty members who have extensive experience with you. Your writers should also be able to talk about different aspects of your profile—it can be helpful to have one letter about your leadership and one about your research rather than two letters from your research lab. For more information and tips visit (

Additional Resources
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Mangos Language Courses - Requires Hillsborough County Library Card (Free)
Reading List
How To Write a Resume That Gets Interviews

Office of National Scholarships 4202 E. Fowler Ave. ALN 271 Tampa, FL 33620 | Phone: (813) 974-3087   Fax: (813) 974-5801
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