Students with interests in law, government, politics, public policy, international affairs and related fields have many opportunities to engage in research, internships, community/public service and other experiential learning opportunities that will contribute to developing a competitive profile for scholarships and fellowships.
While some scholarships support undergraduate study, the majority provide support for postgraduate study. Most opportunities are issue- or theme-related, and successful candidates demonstrate knowledge of and interest in that area. Whether you are interested in environmental issues; public or health care policy; or local, national or international politics and whether you aspire to be a lawyer, a college professor, a politician or policy analyst, you will find opportunities that will hone your research and analytical skills, develop your knowledge and understanding of issues, enhance your undergraduate experience, provide valuable learning experiences, and make you a stronger candidate for postgraduate educational and funding opportunities.
Pre-law students ask whether there are scholarships available that will help them pay for law school. Yes, there are, but most are offered by law schools to students as part of the admission process. If you are interested in developing a more competitive profile for funding opportunities that will support you in law school, there are some things you can do other than get good grades and a good LSAT score even while you are completing your undergraduate degree.
A few guiding points to enhance your law school application and increase scholarship opportunities:
- Developing a strong competitive profile for postgraduate opportunities typically requires effort over time. The earlier you get started volunteering, doing community service, engaging in research, taking advantage of study abroad opportunities, securing internships, etc., the better you will understand yourself, your interests, and your educational and career goals — these are all aspects that will contribute to a stronger, more competitive application.
- Don't feel that you have reshape the world with your first effort. Start with manageable or short term projects; a local volunteer or service opportunity can help you be competitive for a summer research opportunity. Then build on your experiences and your course work to develop a more ambitious project, write a stronger proposal for another research opportunity, or apply for a scholarship or fellowship.
- Be deliberate and thoughtful about your choices. An international experience — such as an internship abroad — can certainly deepen your understanding of yourself, issues, and the world. The experience ideally should be one that you choose for the way it contributes to your area of interest. A study abroad experience in Spain with your friends will likely provide wonderful memories, but an international research experience or a "study away" experience in Washington, D.C. might set the stage for greater achievement in your career.
- Most individuals who successfully compete for major scholarship or fellowships have a substantial record of accomplishment — in the classroom, in research/scholarship in their field of study, and in community or public service or action. They typically demonstrate considerable leadership ability, whether that means making contributions to their field of study, developing a significant project to address a community problem or issue, or engaging in a living/learning experience abroad.
- Keep in mind that you don't have to excel in all areas — academic, research and service — to be competitive for opportunities, but in most cases, you will need to excel in at least one.