College undergraduates who earned a Rhodes, a Fulbright, a Watson Fellowship or other prestigious fellowships join a elite group of Americans. Previous Rhodes Scholars, for instance, include President Bill Clinton, politician/basketball player Bill Bradley, journalist George Stephanopoulos, actor Kris Kristofferson, director Terrence Malik and social critic Naomi Wolf.
So how do college students increase their chances of getting these fellowships for graduate work? Andrew Roberts, a professor at Northwestern University and the author of an excellent book, The Thinking Student's Guide to College: 75 Tips for Getting a Better Education, provides some tips.
1. Pursue a subject you love passionately.
2. Take challenging classes in a variety of fields and read beyond what's expected.
3. Get involved in research as early as possible in college and pursue it at a high level.
4. Form close bonds with your professors. You'll need lots of recommendations. The Rhodes Scholar program, for instance, requires eight professor recommendations!
5. Learn a foreign language and spend time in a foreign country. This is particularly important for Fulbright scholarships.
6. Excel in all off the above.
7. Find an fellowship adviser who can help you plan your application well in advance of the deadlines.