University of Iowa

Develop yourself

Resources & recommendations from the Director of Scholar Development

Aren't sure where to get started when it comes to your campus application essays? I encourage everyone to spend sometime working through a handful of questions that may help you remember who you are and what has influenced your intellectual, personal, and professional development, but which also generate useful content/momentum for application development. 

“Reading beyond the syllabus is what distinguishes students from scholars.”

Students and parents often ask me what makes a candidate competitive for both campus scholarships and national fellowships like the Rhodes, Truman, or Fulbright. While there is no perfect or simple answer to this question, I do offer this advice. Make time in your life to read, to immerse yourself in the physical, emotional, and intellectual experiences of other people, both fictional and real.

It is easier to know and learn from a good story when you regularly and voraciously consume them. This habit will also teach you how to pay attention to and tell your own story. This is THE THING that can level the advantages of privilege, luck, or charm. The trick is to train yourself to value the potential of the unfamiliar and the challenging even when there is no clear reward or reason to do so.

Build a more effective cover letter with help from NPR intern supervisors Steve Drummond and Elissa Nadworny

Read the full piece from Drummond and Nadworny at or PDF iconFive Things That Are Wrong With Your Cover Letter - NPR.ORG_.pdf.