The philosophy that guides Haverford's fellowships program is embodied in a simple slogan: "it's not the prize but the process that matters." Creating a viable application typically entails, among other things, carefully crafting an honest and compelling narrative regarding how your life experiences, your scholarly interests and training, your ethics, and/or your personal aspirations constitute a coherent whole.
It therefore entails being able to articulate succinctly what motivates you to do the things you have done and would like to do. The process of writing essays for scholarships is therefore an opportunity to engage in self-discovery and perhaps, as a byproduct of hard work and a touch of luck, to earn the means to pursue potentially life-changing opportunities.
Win or lose, many candidates are very pleasantly surprised to discover through the application process that experiences, activities, interests, and talents that they had previously considered random actually do relate meaningfully and even synergistically to one another. And on a more pragmatic level, many have said that the insight they derived from doing their absolute best in applying for scholarships made application to graduate school, jobs, and other scholarships so much easier and more rewarding than may otherwise have been the case. However, such helpful insights and the potential they offer for success in the pursuit of various opportunities cannot be attained in a perfunctory fashion.
There is a fairly wide array of scholarship opportunities. Haverfordians apply most commonly for scholarships that fund graduate study abroad and for which you cannot apply until senior year (current students, please note that the vast majority of scholarships will not provide funds to help defray the cost of college tuition). However, a small number of scholarships are open to students as early as sophomore year, and still others are intended for postgraduate study within the United States. Some scholarships also put greater emphasis on cumulative GPA (many seek candidates at or above 3.75) and/or leadership qualities (however defined) than do others.
Many of these scholarships—although not all—are looking for evidence that you are a change agent and that you have been original and shown initiative in seeking to help others and solve problems beyond the Haverford campus. However, such evidence does not necessarily come in the form of the biggest pile of "trophies"—although they are looking for evidence to support a candidate's claims to being dedicated in making contributions to the betterment of others, it is not always true that scholarship selection committees will simply reward those who have the longest resumes. Sometimes, a particularly revealing incident or a strikingly original initiative may provide a prism through which a major external scholarship selection committee might see in someone the great potential he or she has for having a meaningful impact on communities and issues of societal or global import in the future.
Haverford's Center for Peace and Global Citizenship (CPGC) provides opportunities for current Haverford students to pursue academically-grounded projects both domestically or abroad that lay at the intersection of their scholarly training and their desire to promote peace, social justice and global citizenship. The CPGC supports students in a variety of ways, through summer internships, on-campus events, off-campus conferences & workshops, and student research. In conjunction with a purposefully focused personal academic program, community service, and/or other internships, a well-wrought, successful CPGC project can help lay the groundwork for viable applications for future scholarship opportunities offered by organizations external to Haverford College.
The scholarships with which the Dean's Office is most familiar generally require candidates to be nominated or (as in the case of Fulbright) evaluated by a campus nominating committee, which at Haverford is typically the Committee on College Honors; all such scholarships are identified with an asterisk on the list of fellowship opportunities. Whatever type of scholarship might interest you, there are people at Haverford who stand ready to give you advice regarding how to craft a viable application; if you are interested in seeking such assistance, contact Dean Phil Bean, who will either help you himself or direct you to those who can best advise you. It is arguably never too early to have a conversation regarding whether you might be a plausible candidate for a scholarship, and in some senses it is never too late to do so because many candidates have applied successfully after graduating from Haverford.
One last bit of advice...
If you might be interested in applying for a scholarship and experiencing the opportunity to enhance your self-awareness and self-presentation skills that doing so well inevitably entails, you must make yourself an informed explorer and be prepared to work hard. Read the websites of the scholarships that might interest you—which are linked to the OAR website—very carefully and start writing early (e.g., it is advisable to have first drafts of application essays by mid-June for scholarships with campus deadlines in September). The most effective and self-enlightening applications are those that are the end products of a long process of writing, reflecting, discussion, and rewriting, rewriting, rewriting. For the many, though, the hard work will prove to be its own reward.