Establish a solid grade point average
Most competitive grants require GPAs of 3.80 or higher (Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell). Others fall in the 3.0 to 3.7 range.
Join organizations, activities, and causes that represent issues that are important to you
Your involvement demonstrates your passions and motivations outside the classroom. Committees are interested in who you are, and your involvement shows this. Find ways you can make an impact on the NWA community and your hometown, in addition to your campus involvement.
Show intellectual well-roundedness
Pursue an ambitious and diverse curriculum. Seek extra-curricular involvement, on campus and in the community. Join groups that represent issues that are important to you. Demonstrate commitment and passion. Search for leadership opportunities. Identify a need and fill it. Broaden your horizons. Define your areas of interest for graduate school and careers.
Develop close relationships with faculty in several disciplines
Get involved through research, internships, service-learning, study abroad, and similar opportunities. You want future recommenders to write personally about you. Visit professors at least two times each semester.
Stay informed of current events
Read the newspaper daily (The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal) and periodicals (The Atlantic Monthly, The New Republic, or The Economist) as well as respected journals in your field of interest. Listen to news radio (NPR, BBC News, etc.) Watch the Sunday political roundtables (Meet the Press, etc.).
Keep a journal
The personal statement is one of the most important components of a grant application in which you talk about your background, life experiences, personal, academic, and professional interests, and aspirations. The personal statement is an opportunity to give the reader insight into who you really are. Keeping a journal helps you know yourself, remember highlights from your life experiences, and strengthen your writing skills.