Here are a few ways you can assist your students in connecting with Undergraduate Research & Fellowships and competitive scholarship and fellowship opportunities:
1) The earlier a student begins to think about and plan for these opportunities, the better. Even if you are working with a first-year student, consider referring them to URF (see below) and encouraging them to find out more about what may be available to them at various points in their undergraduate career.
2) Nationally competitive scholarships and fellowships are no longer “bookish” in the sense that they consider only academic merit. Scholarship programs expect students to be engaged in things beyond their classrooms, including leadership opportunities, significant community engagement and service, undergraduate research, and experience at the national and international levels.
3) Encourage students to recognize the importance of connecting with their faculty, advisors, and peers. Students rely on these connections to help them get involved in opportunities on campus and beyond that make sense for what they hope to do in the future. Support these efforts by recommending students to your own colleagues, mentoring them through undergraduate research experiences, helping them to identify meaningful service learning opportunities, and so forth.
4) Help students develop strong written materials for their applications (e.g., personal statements, research proposals, and project purpose statements).
5) Agree to write a letter of recommendation for a student, but only if you are in a position to write a good letter for the student.