Making Yourself Competitive

There are many factors to consider when applying for nationally competitive awards, and sometimes it can be easy to feel like you’re “behind the ball.” By following our patented* Awesomeness Timeline, however, it’s easy to make connection among all the parts of your life where you find energy and passion.


First Year: Laying the Groundwork
  • Get to know your professors.(Visit office hours, speak up.)
  • Identify workable study strategies. (Alone or in groups? How do you manage your time?)
  • Find your strengths. (Papers or exams? Open questions or concrete answers?)
Second Year: Find a Path
  • Choose a major by the fall (remember, you can always switch).
  • Start doing independent research and publishing or  presenting.
  • Finish all your distribution requirements.
Third Year: Digging Deeper
  • Talk to your advisor in the fall about potential thesis topics.
  • Keep presenting or publishing your research.
  • Take challenging upper-level courses.
  • Take research methods course. (Research 4 Success through the Ex College or a course in your major.)
Fourth Year: Looking Down the Road
  • Start applying for graduate school or post-grad fellowships in the summer.
  • Complete your senior thesis.
  • Present your research at local or national conferences.


First Year: Laying the Groundwork
  • Befriend your dean.
  • Work with tutors  such as graduate writing consultants.
  • Meet with fellowships advisor (FA).
Second Year: Find a Path
  • Meet with FA in the fall and apply for annual scholarships.
  • Determine whether you want to study abroad and where.
  • Apply for summer internships or  fellowships.
Third Year: Digging Deeper
  • Meet with FA in the fall to talk about funding for graduate school.
  • Apply for summer research funding (such as Summer Scholars, Borghesani, or Beckman),
Fourth Year: Looking Down the Road
  • Participate in a writing group (with a tutor or friends) for your senior thesis.
  • Reach out to graduate writing Consultants ro FA for help with grad school or fellowship applications.


First Year: Laying the Groundwork
  • Participate in academic clubs.
  • Attend on-campus events.
Second Year: Find a Path
  • Start taking on leadership roles.
  • Apply to be a tutor or  writing fellow.
Third Year: Digging Deeper
  • Take on mentorship role in student organizations.
Fourth Year: Looking Down the Road
  • Mentor younger students.
  • Organize events.


*the awesomeness timeline is not actually patented.