The Honors College at Georgia State seeks to find the brightest and most talented high school students to become Presidential Scholars.
Behind every Presidential Scholar there is an impactful teacher, mentor, coach, high school counselor and others who pushed them to excel in becoming innovative leaders and scholars. We know how important it is for students to have a strong support system to guide them towards success, so we’ve gathered some tools to help you help them on their journey to becoming a Presidential Scholar.
We have created these items for you to share in your communications with your students.
MY PRESIDENTIAL SCHOLARSHIP JOURNEY
by Evelyn Farkas
Class of 2024 Presidential Scholar
Neuroscience and Public Health double-major
“And where do you want to go to college?”
It was October of my senior year, and while all the leaves were changing color and swirling to the ground, nature preparing for its next stage in life, I still remained clueless as to where my next stage was going to take me. I forced a smile on my face as I politely answered the fifth person who had asked me this question in the last hour.
“I’m not sure yet.”
Later that month, I submitted all of my applications, though I still didn’t know which one was my dream school. My next task was to apply for scholarships. One in particular caught my eye. A full ride to Georgia State University, complete with funds for travel abroad, a paid on-campus internship, and a generous living stipend. I clicked through images and articles of past scholars, these incredibly talented and accomplished students. They studied programming and economics, started businesses and conducted research, traveled the world and published their work. And they were real kids, making a mark on the world. I decided I wanted to be one of them. I filled out the admittedly gruellingly long application, all 10 of the required essays. Then I submitted it and crossed my fingers as the winter set in.
In January, I toured the Georgia State Honors College and instantly fell in love. I adored the buzz and energy of Atlanta, and the people of the Honors College matched that vibe perfectly. I was enthralled by the innovation, resources, and opportunities I saw around every corner of the campus and the city.
In February, I came back to Georgia State as a finalist for the Presidential Scholarship. It was a nerve wracking, absolutely exhilarating, and totally exhausting day of interviews and interactions. After that, I had to sit on pins and needles for three weeks before the results were released, and I started dreaming about the fall.
Now the leaves are changing color again, and I know where I want to go to college: exactly where I am, right now. So whether you know you want to come study at Georgia State, or you have no idea where the future will take you, take a look at the Presidential Scholarship, because you never know if it will make it possible for you to go to your dream school. Write those 10 essays, be yourself, and show all the things that make you unique with pride. And be excited for your future. It’s here.
10 TIPS FOR APPLYING:
- Do not leave this for the last moment! You do not want to rush this, considering that it is a long application. You also don’t want to run into any technical problems right as the application is about to close.
- Don’t overthink this. Do NOT answer with what you THINK the school wants to hear. Don’t treat this like a test that you have to study for, like you can research all the right answers. That will make your application look just like everyone else’s.
- Think about what makes you unique. When you consider which topics to write about, focus on the things that make you unique. If you have a unique cultural lifestyle or religion, focus on how that has shaped you. What extracurriculars do you do that are true to you and how have they impacted your views and goals? These are the questions you should be asking. So it’s old advice, but it’s true. Be yourself and just show passion for whatever it is that you care about.
- Pay attention to tone. Maintain a professional tone, but at the same time, let your personality and voice influence your style. Write like YOU, not like a language arts robot.
- Think carefully about your letter of recommendation. Another big part of the application is your recommendation letter. Be careful in who you select to ask for this favor. Make sure it’s someone who knows you well, who has seen you display passion and leadership and can testify to it. And especially remember, this IS a favor that someone is doing for you. Ask them kindly and with gratitude, and preferably in person, not over email. Once the letter has been written, follow up with a hand-written thank you card. Believe me, it goes a long way.
- Do some research before Scholarship Day. So, you’ve been selected as a semi-finalist and will have an interview on Scholarship Day. You’re probably nervous. It’s ok to do a little research, but not the kind you think. Besides, you don’t even know what the questions are going to be. What you should figure out is what excites you about Georgia State, and what you would love to do there. Find out if there are any opportunities that you want to explore. This “research,” should be fun and make you excited, which is what interviewers want to see—not scripted answers.
- Practice your interview technique. You can meet with a friend who has an interview of some sort and the two of you can practice giving each other tips on soft skills. Pay attention to things like hand shakes, steady voice, confidence and enthusiasm. Try to avoid saying “um” and “like” and practice good posture. Kindly correct and help each other. Believe me, having practiced what you do with your hands and how to sit will make the big day less stressful when it comes.
- Choose your outfit. When you pick what to wear for Scholarship Day, make sure it’s professional, of course. But it’s equally important that whatever outfit you pick, you look like you and you feel like you. Be comfortable in your own skin, and be confident in who you are. Let your clothes help you with that.
- Keep your focus. Answering interview questions is pretty similar to answering your essay prompts on the application. Focus on your unique attributes and your passions and express genuine excitement. Use your personality to your benefit. They will notice the way you answer more than the perfect and careful selection of your words. It’s totally normal to be nervous, but remember that everyone else is in the same boat.
- Relax and rest. Once it’s over, it’s over. Please don’t torture yourself about all the things you should have said or what you should have done. I know it can be really, really hard, but try and think about something else the next three weeks. You can write a thank you note to your interviewers, which I would recommend, but beyond that, it is out of your hands. And for those of you wondering, no, I didn’t exactly follow my own advice for this one. I was definitely a nervous wreck. But it’s easier to tell others to do it than do it myself.
Good luck! Believe in yourself! Go knock ‘em dead!
What is the Presidential Scholarship student experience?
Yes! We encourage students to seek feedback regarding their application because we understand that it can be difficult for students to know what to write about or how to best sell themselves. A mentor that can helpfully remind students of their accomplishments (of which they may be too modest about) and how to present those accomplishments helps the selection committee better learn about them. And that’s our goal—to learn as much as possible about these applicants through their own words!
This can and should be a learning process for students to learn how to navigate this kind of competitive process so they may become better writers and better candidates in other scholarship opportunities.
That said, refrain from stepping in and doing any of the work for them. They will have to be able to perform on their own should they be selected for an interview, so it doesn’t benefit them to be their crutch.
The letters we appreciate the most are the ones where you can tell the recommender knows the student well. Sometimes students think they should ask their math teacher for a letter because they are going to major in math, but their drama teacher knows them much more because they’ve been in every school play for the last four years and that teacher can more adequately sing their praises (literally and figuratively). We want the letter from the drama teacher! The first thing you should do is confirm with your student that you are indeed the best choice in recommender for them. Figuring out the right person to ask can be quite the task for high-schoolers. Sometimes, they need coaching on how to ask the right person and that may be where you help them out.
If you are the best person for the job, I recommend reading our Mission Statement as well as some of our scholar spotlights. Our current scholars are all remarkable in their own unique ways, but the common theme is that they came to Georgia State as students who made the most use of the resources around them in high school and show an ambition to do more.
You will receive an email once your student provides us with your contact information within their application. This email will include a link to site where you may upload or copy/paste your letter. We recommend uploading your letter as a word document or PDF (with letterhead), however you can copy and paste your letter as well. Letters of recommendation are due December 15th at 11:59 PM EST, which is one week after the application due date.
We encourage students to be courteous of their recommender’s time, however, there are always students who may find out about the Presidential Scholarship close to the deadline. This recommendation letter deadline gives all recommenders one week at a minimum to write and submit their letter before we must begin our review process. We explain to students that it is their responsibility to ensure their recommender can submit the letter on time.
If you haven’t received your email request, make sure your student entered the correct email address. If they entered the correct address, check that the message hasn’t gone to your junk or spam folders. If it’s not there either or if you are having trouble uploading your letter, please feel free to email your letter to Scholars@gsu.edu by the December 15th 11:59 PM EST deadline. Our staff will manually attach the letter to the student’s application file.