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Yes, next year can be cheaper

Hey all,

     This is a short blog to remind you to remind your students to apply for the Presidential Achievement Scholarship. The scholarship award can be anywhere from $500 to $2,000, and this year there’s more money than ever to give out.

Students can access the Presidential Achievement Scholarship on their my.bellarmine pages. It requires that they write a (very) brief essay and get two faculty or staff recommendations. I’ve included some tips for how students can a) write a good essay, and b) get good faculty recommendations.

Writing a Good Essay

1) Don’t say the same things everyone else will say. Take the time to really think about your personal experience and make your essay unique. The readers will see hundreds of these essays, so make your stand out.
2) Don’t just say what you think readers will want to hear. Don’t just say that you learned to use the ARC more, or talk to your professor. This shouldn’t be a fable in whcih the moral is that you learned college is hard and you have to work hard. Carefully consider your experience and how it shaped you as a learner and a student.
3) Open and close with something captivating, like a strong image. I often tell a story about a student I helped to write a personal statement for dental school. The image he used to introduce the theme of his essay was so strong that, on his first day of orientation, the VP walked up to him and said, “Oh, you’re Daniel, and you wrote that essay about X.” That’s the essay you want to write.
4) Edit and proofread. Even if it’s genius, readers are way less inclined to give you money if you can’t be bothered to check your spelling and grammar.
5) Come to the Writing Center.  We’ve seen these essays for years. We know what readers look for.

Getting Good Recommendations

1) Choose someone who knows you well, like a professor your worked closely with for class, or a club advisor you see a lot.
2) Visit that person’s office to ask for the recommendation personally. Faculty and staff apprecaite this. If you’re going to ask them to say good things about you, you better be impressive while you do it.
3) Via email, provide the person with your student ID number and some additional information about you. Professors work with hundreds of students. If if they know you well, they could easily have forgotten the name of that place where you volunteer, or that you have a job outside of school.
4) About a week before the due date, send a “Thank You in Advance” note. This shows profs your grattitude, and also serves as a subtle and gentle reminder for those who haven’t gotten around to your recommendation yet.

Even if you don’t think your student will get it, or s/he has applied before and not gotten it (yes, it’s open to upperclassmen, too), please encourage him/her to apply this year. It takes so little effort, and it never hurts.

Have a good weekend!
Jess Hume
Bellarmine Alum c/o 2005
Director of Writing and Parent Communications

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About Cassie

I'm the Director of the Writing Center and Director of Parent Communications at Bellarmine University.

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