Applying for a scholarship can be a daunting task vaguely reminiscent of completing college applications. As if filling out waves of ‘short answer questions’ (which demand essay-long replies) isn’t enough, scholarships often ask for letters of recommendations, proposal statements and sometimes even an interview. With so much to do, it’s hard to know where to even begin the application process. Here’s a little hint in the form of three easy letters: S.O.P.
Located in room 1200 of Student Services II, the Scholarship Opportunities Program regularly assists UC Irvine undergraduates in successfully applying for prestigious merit-based regional, national and international scholarships. Their main focus is on 35 of the most acclaimed scholarships offered in the United States including the Rhodes, the Fulbright and the Truman.
The program helps students by teaching the writing, editing, public speaking and interviewing skills needed to compete for highly competitive awards.
‘Here at UCI, we have a lot of great, talented people, and sometimes they’re not as confident in their abilities as they should be,’ said Rebecca Harris, director of the SOP.
Additionally, they also review the applications for each scholarship and write the lengthy university endorsement letters that accompany these applications.
The SOP is completely separate from the Office of Financial Aid. While Financial Aid deals with need-based scholarships administered by UCI or the UC system, the SOP helps students with merit-based scholarships administered by outside foundations or institutions.
Depending on which scholarship a student chooses to pursue, the SOP will do their best to tailor their services to help that student achieve their goals. Besides their comprehensive workshops, the SOP office also houses a goldmine of resource materials including a library of past scholarship winners’ applications, recommendation letters and scholarship essays. If that’s not enough, they can even connect students with past UCI scholarship winners who can share their experiences about the process and insider tips on becoming a successful candidate.
On Feb. 14 and 15, the office will be hosting their 2007 Big Scholarship Workshop from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. in SSLH 100. This annual two-day event is a great way for undergraduates in all majors and class levels to become acquainted with SOP resources. Faculty will explain how students can develop the profiles needed to win prestigious awards, how to solicit letters of recommendations and write proposal statements. Past student winners will also be on hand to describe how they prepared themselves and what tactics were helpful in applying for specific scholarships.
‘It is intimidating, but I tell them that someone has to win,’ Haris said. ‘These scholarships give grants to a very small handful of people. They’re very prestigious, but someone is winning those, a lot of someones. Why can’t it be you?’