Why Apply for Major Scholarships?
The first thing to keep in mind as you consider major scholarships, such as the Rhodes and Marshall, is that these scholarships are vehicles, not rewards. You should only pursue them if they will provide the kind of training you need for the professional future you envision for yourself. They are not "pats on the back" for a job well done. They are open doors to the next great professional and personal adventure.
First ask yourself what it is you want to do with your life (a question you’ll wrestle with forever). What kind of work do you want to do in the world? What are you passionate about? Chart a course by connecting with your professors and conducting undergraduate research in an area you’re particularly interested in. Get involved in your community. You’ll soon discover your professional, intellectual, and social passions.
The activities, travel, internships, and research you pursue should center on things you care about, things that make sense within the context of the professional and personal vision you’re designing for yourself.
Then you need to ask yourself what sort of training and experiences will position you to do this work in the future. Where are the best places to study after undergrad? What think tanks or labs or NGOs or governmental agencies are doing the kind of work you want to do? How can you get tapped into these great opportunities?
Then determine which scholarship (if any) is a natural fit for this path you’re charting.
There are a lot of questions to consider, but don’t get overwhelmed. Start by exploring the things you’re interested in, and look around for people who are doing the kind of work you imagine yourself doing. Connect with those people, and see where that takes you.