The Truman Scholarship is a very competitive scholarship sponsored by the federal government of the United States. Every year, the Truman Scholarship receives over 600 applicants to fill approximately 65 slots.
Named after President Harry S. Truman, the Truman Scholarship awards $30,000 to college juniors for up to three years of graduate study in a field related to public service. Educational accomplishment and leadership potential are key components of the Truman Scholarship.
The process of qualifying for a Truman Scholarship can be rigorous. You must first be nominated by your undergraduate university. You will need three letters of recommendation and a recent transcript.
There is also a 14-question application that includes a policy proposal. Your policy proposal and personal statement will be the most scrutinized parts of the application, so if you are interested in the Truman Scholarship, it is important that you get these two elements right.
An effective personal statement will clearly reveal your story, highlighting your achievements and why you are motivated for public service. It is important to note here that while the Truman Scholarship representatives will not readily come out and say it, the organization is clearly about recruiting talented students in order to promote liberal social policies. You need to understand this if you are going to write an effective personal statement as well as a policy proposal that will get noticed.
Let us take a policy proposal as an example. Remember, the Truman Scholarship is looking for leaders for the government. Let’s say your policy proposal advocates limiting the size of the federal government and reducing federal debt, creating a better economic climate for business growth. This is the kind of policy statement the Truman Scholarship would likely frown upon because it does not grow the size or influence of the federal government.
On the other hand—as promoted on their website—a blueprint for Obamacare is used as an example of a winning policy proposal. Most of us understand intuitively that when it comes to government, less is often more.
When it comes to winning a Truman Scholarship, be prepared to tell them what they want to hear. You have to be clever about this, of course, because they will tell you they don’t want you to do this. The evidence suggests, however, that this is exactly what they want.
General guidelines for your policy proposal include choosing something in your field of expertise as well as a subject considered controversial. There should be room for debate on both sides of the issue, and (they say) it doesn’t matter which side of the issue you take as long as your point is legitimate and well supported.
Your Truman Scholarship policy proposal should be a significant issue to the United States government, the population at large, your state, the environment, or the international community. It should be large in scope, but not so big it overwhelms your policy proposal.
If you’re looking for a career in public service, the government, education, or the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, the Truman Scholarship might be a good fit for you. Its highly competitive nature means you should get started early to give yourself the best chance for success.