Students should begin preparing for Nationally competitive opportunities as early
as their freshman year. If you are interested in becoming a future applicant, the
following is a set of recommended guidelines for each year of your undergraduate career.
The interest form link lists each award and provides a direct link to each opportunity's
website page. If you have any questions about applying, contact us at scholarsFREEMississippi.
Establish a solid grade point average
Join organizations, activities, and causes that represent issues that are important
Your involvement demonstrates your passions and motivations outside the classroom.
Find ways you can make an impact in the Hattiesburg community.
Show intellectual well-roundedness
Pursue an ambitious and diverse curriculum. Seek extra-curricular involvement, on
campus. Join groups that represent issues that align with your personal and professional
interests. Demonstrate commitment and passion. Search for leadership opportunities.
Identify a need and fill it. Broaden your horizons.
Develop close relationships with faculty in several disciplines
Get involved through research, internships, service-learning, study abroad, or other
opportunities. You want future recommenders to write personally about you.
Read the newspaper daily (The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal) or follow
them on Twitter. Listen to podcasts, Ted Talks, or news radio (NPR). Know what is
being talked about in the world around you.
Keep a journal
The personal statement is one of the most important components of a grant application
in which you talk about your background, life experiences, personal, academic, and
professional interests, and aspirations. Keeping a journal helps you know yourself,
remember highlights from your life experiences, and strengthen your writing skills.
Meet with the Project Director for Nationally Competitive Programs
Start undergraduate research with a faculty member
Beginning research early is especially important if you are a science or engineering
Continue your involvement in organizations and with causes
Find unmet needs on campus and in the community, and determine solutions.
Show intellectual well-roundedness
Craft diverse and interesting semester schedules that challenge you and reflect a
broad array of understanding. Consider taking upper-division (300-level) courses.
Look ahead to the summer
Seek internships, study abroad opportunities, or experiences that will strengthen
your application and broaden your awareness. Reflect upon your life values and goals.
Dream big. Clarify steps you can follow to reach your goals.
Know your award options
Review the applications you have an interest in with the Project Director for Nationally
Competitive Programs before departing for the summer by scheduling an initial appointment. Determine gaps in your application that can be filled over the break.
Make yourself nationally competitive
Start undergraduate research in your junior year and continue throughout your senior
Give back to your discipline
Present at conferences, and attend state and national meetings. Depending on your
major, give performances, hold an art exhibit, or publish in a reputable journal.
Enroll in a graduate-level course if possible.
Know where you are going and where you have been
Consider your future academic goals. Know your "why" and be able to share your plan
of study and your passion behind it.
Bolster your résumé and transcript
Seek an active role in organizations and activities that are personal to your interests
and goals. Take challenging courses in and out of your major area of study.
Prepare for senior awards in your junior year
Your senior year will offer many options for nationally competitive awards, such as
the Marshall, Rhodes, Gates Cambridge, Mitchell, and NSF. The most successful students
begin the application process in their junior year. Meet individually with the Office
of Nationally Competitive Awards or attend a workshop to learn more about each scholarship.
Assess the areas that you need to strengthen to be nationally competitive, and address
these over the summer.
Start planning for graduate school
Define your areas of interest for graduate school, and begin speaking with professors
about reputable programs in your field of study. Meet one-on-one with professors to
secure letters of recommendation, providing each recommender with an academic résumé
and examples of work you did in their class.
Prepare for national exams
Spend months studying for national entrance exams such as GRE, GRE subject exam (when
applicable), and MCAT, etc.
Nationally competitive programs begin as early as freshman year. Use the following
list to explore core opportunities. Visit the fellowship and scholarship list of programs
above to view a full list of opportunities.
Science, math, and engineering majors pursuing post-graduate degree
Additional Resources for Research, Fellowships and Internship Opportunities
Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research - The Drapeau Center for Undergraduate Research (DCUR) at Southern Miss supports
all aspects of undergraduate research and creative activity. Center initiatives are
funded by generous contributions from its benefactor, Mr. Donald Drapeau, and from
the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Gulf Coast Research Laboratory - Located in Ocean Springs, Miss., The University of Southern Mississippi’s Gulf Coast
Research Laboratory (GCRL) is one of the largest marine laboratories in the southeastern
United States. With a workforce of approximately 200 faculty, researchers, graduate
students and support staff, GCRL conducts applied research and higher education in
a diverse array of facilities on its 50-acre Halstead and 224-acre Cedar Point sites.
Center for Community Engagement - The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) coordinates meaningful and mutually beneficial
community engagement experiences to address university and community needs, effect
positive social change, and cultivate active citizen leaders. Through partnerships
with faculty, staff, students, and community agencies, CCE facilitates activities
that integrate learning, service, and leadership.
The Student Opportunity Center (SOC) - A database with over 11,000 on-campus, in-state, regional, and nation-wide undergraduate
student opportunities from the arts to the sciences: conferences and competitions;
journals for publication of undergraduate scholarly work; internship, co-op, and research
programs; and funding for undergraduate scholarly activities. Access the SOC database
with your USM email address and choose a password (your SOAR password is not automatically