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Well-rounded leaders get the nod in scholarship race

Ever wonder what the secret is to getting a college scholarship? The secret is there is no secret, other than studying hard, getting good grades and setting yourself apart from others doing the same.

"There are certainly academic standards - lines where we begin the process of choosing scholarship recipients," says Dennis Sorge, director of academic services in the School of Science. "Then we have to look at the other factors."

In screening applicants for scholarships in the School of Science, the selection committee looks at extracurricular activities and pays close attention to recommendations from teachers and administrators, he says.

"It's not necessarily the number of activities the student is involved in," Sorge says, "but it's the tendency to take on responsibility and leadership roles."

Students who have volunteer and civic activities stick out, Sorge says, as do students who juggle school, sports, volunteering and perhaps a part-time job.

"We aren't advocating that all - or any - student should work while attending high school, but we do look at how they use their time," Sorge says.

"We also look carefully at how they present themselves in their application essay - how much time have they taken with it, whether they use correct grammar and spelling," he says. "We also are mindful of the schools they attend, so we know what kind of competition they have had for the level of success they have achieved."

Sorge says most academic schools at Purdue use the same sort of criteria for judging scholarship applicants. And most use committees to choose the recipients.

"Committee members bring different perspectives to the table, which is really helpful," he says. "And we put together what we call a prediction of success."

In choosing scholarship recipients, Sorge says, "we all are looking for students who will succeed at Purdue."

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