Prestigious Scholarships

Prestigious scholarships are those that constitute competition on a national level and are high in prestige as well as remuneration. These are intensely competitive scholarships and are very difficult to win. Students compete at the very highest level against other students from the best academic institutions in America. Therefore, to be genuinely competitive, you must be excellent in virtually all respects. To better understand what this means, we strongly recommend reading Dr. John Martell Jr.'s Prestigious Scholarships - An Overview.


The scholarships summarized here are the Rhodes, British Marshall, Goldwater, Truman and Udall. These are nationally competitive scholarships. In order to be competitive the student must prepare long in advance and make a serious commitment of time and energy, up to 40 hours, for the application. Generally, a GPA of 3.8 to 4.0 is required. Applicants work through the Lee Honors College, which determines the possibility of an institutional endorsement for that applicant. For additional information please email Scott Friesner at

It is important to note that for finalists, oral interviews are a part of most prestigious scholarship competitions. If the student is a finalist in the process, preparation will be required to discuss ideas, defend positions, debate issues, etc. Also, while requirements vary with each scholarship, all scholarships have in common the necessity of advanced preparation. You may need at least a year or two to build credentials.

The Rhodes Scholarship

Normally due to the honors college by early September.

In addition to proven, outstanding academic and intellectual achievement (this should include individualized study, research and creative activities), the Rhodes applicant is required to show integrity of character, interest in and respect for fellow human beings, and the ability to lead. In other words, to be a successful candidate, you must do far more than excel in academics. You must provide examples of what have you done to show the kind of a person you are, whom you helped and how, and examples of how you have been a leader and what you have accomplished in the larger world.

Also, an important part of the application is a 600-word essay that must be of a high intellectual caliber. This essay reveals the quality of your mind, and your ability to think synthetically. In addition to a persuasive presentation of your academic interests, you must convince the readers of your desire to study at the University of Oxford, and what your program of study will be. This requires you to do research on Oxford. To be successful, you must learn something about its programs and faculty. Please be prepared to write several drafts of this essay. Finally, you must have at least six excellent academic recommendations. So, you must work well and intensively with faculty, from whom you hope to get the strongest recommendations possible.

The British Marshall Scholarship

Normally due to the honors college in early September.

Like the Rhodes, this requires a high degree of academic achievement. Outstanding grades, awards, scholarships or grants are necessary. Two essays are also necessary. There is a 1,000-word essay in which you describe your academic interests and pursuits. Again, it is the quality of your ideas, erudition and imagination that are of the utmost importance.

In addition to the above essay, The British Marshall requires a second essay of 500 words. This is vitally important and requires research. You must explain why you are pursuing this particular course of study, and why you must attend the British institution you have chosen to advance your studies and career. You must, in advance, find out which UK institutions offer the program of study you want and why the program is important to you. This will take time, so start soon. You should expect to do several drafts of these essays. (Your program may have other requirements, like language proficiency.)

The Goldwater Scholarship

Normally due to the honors college in early January.

The characteristics the Goldwater Foundation seeks in candidates: commitment to a career in math, natural sciences or engineering; a student of promise who displays intellectual intensity; and potential for significant future contribution in his/her field. This is clearly a research-oriented award where the candidates are expected to pursue a doctoral degree, or medical degree in research.

Students are expected to have national research experience or independent investigation of a theory relevant to his/her field. This means preparing in advance so that you can present a convincing case that you fulfill these requirements. Close research with a faculty member is a necessity.

Additionally, you will have to write about your career aspirations and how you will achieve them; any activities or experiences that will clarify your motivation for a career in science; and a 600-word essay on a significant issue or problem in your field of study that you will research. This latter essay requires much thought and preparation. Here too, the committee will be looking for the quality of your mind as well as your experience.

The Truman Scholarship

Normally due to the honors college in early January.

The GPA of the winner of the Truman is 3.8 or higher, one indicator of academic excellence. But more is required of the Truman Scholar. Among other qualifications, the applicant must have an extensive record of public and community service, be committed to a career in government or some other part of the public sector, and also show outstanding leadership potential. To acquire these credentials may take time and it is best to start as early as the freshman year.

To write a successful application you must be able to give examples of leadership, describe your public service, describe the needs and problems you will address when you enter public service, and write an 800-word essay on a significant public policy issue or problem in your intended area of study. This takes some research time. The Truman Foundation expects you to put in at least 40 hours to prepare your application. (Recommendations are very important and must represent the diversity of your experience.)

The Udall Scholarship

The Udall is a scholarship for students who will be committed to a career in environmental preservation or of Native American tribal health/policy and requires a lot of preparation for the following reasons: first, you must have courses in public policy and ethics outside your environmental science major. Thus you must plan your schedule early. Second, extensive public service and community activities related to public policy and environment are necessary and also take time to acquire. Finally, in a 600-word essay you must discuss Congressman Udall's major achievements and what they mean to you. This requires much advanced research and thought. All of the above must be tied into a solid perspective that elucidates your motivation for a career in environmental public policy, usually through law school and then public office.

Note: For the Rotary Ambassadorial and Fulbright information contact Dr. Donald McCloud, Dean of the Haenicke Institute, at or (269) 387-3951. For information on The USA Today All Academic Team and the Gates Cambridge contact Scott Friesner of the Lee Honors College at or (269) 387-3230.