Year 3 - Juniors
Although the advice offered for previous years is important, advice for juniors has an added component of special importance. Not only are you able to apply for some fellowships this year, but it is also time to seriously think about those that you may apply for during your senior year. If you are currently a junior and have not done so already, I recommend reviewing my advice for first and second-year students, and if needed, catching up on some of those tips before reading ahead.
Hopefully you have completed much of your core and have made good progress in your major, leaving some electives open to you in your senior year. Rather than filling all of those hours with more course work, I would strongly recommend that you start investigating a possible topic for an honor’s thesis. Find out how this is done in your major, and discuss possible ideas with faculty who would be most likely to mentor you through the process. If possible and approved by your potential thesis advisor, conduct preliminary work on this project in the Spring semester, to open up possible work in the summer and throughout your senior year. Ideally, you would also apply for a Mulcahy Award or Provost Fellowship in the spring to support your research.
Think about who would likely write letters of recommendation for you. If no one knows who you are, start working on ways to change that, by talking to faculty more about your interests and goals, and of course by impressing them in the classroom. Even if you are studying abroad, in most instances you will still be in touch with faculty here, and you can discuss ways over e-mail regarding how to develop ideas and interests abroad into a thesis once you return.
There are at least two major fellowships that you can apply for as a junior, and if interested, you should begin the application process immediately. Boren Scholarship applications are due in early February, and fund undergraduate students for up to one academic year of study abroad in countries deemed critical to US national security. These awards include formal study of a modern language other than English, in addition to the study of the region and its culture.
The Truman Scholarship requires that applicants are juniors and provides tuition and stipend for undergraduate study. All applicants should demonstrate a very strong commitment to public service, past and future. Given Loyola’s commitment to community service and social justice, I know that we have many students who are well qualified to apply for this prestigious award.
Please note that although the stated deadline for both of these competitions is in early February, to meet the Loyola campus deadline, students must complete their applications by mid-January to be eligible. Potential applicants for either award should draft a plan for the faculty review committee during the fall term, and complete their first, rough draft by the end of November.
Finally, please remember that the phrase “better late than never” does not apply to the world of fellowship applications. An early start can make all the difference between an application and a successful application.
Dr. James M. Calcagno, Fellowship Director and Professor of Anthropology