Frequent Reasons for Not Advancing in the Truman Competition

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Lack of a substantial and sustained record of service. The Foundation expects Scholars to have sustained participation in two or more of the following types of activities: campus activities, off-campus community service activities, government internships, political campaigns for persons seeking elected office, or government boards or advisory groups.  

Insufficient effort in completing the Nominee Information Form and/or the Policy Proposal. The Foundation publishes examples of good responses [check links in the Guidance to Candidates Page]. Apparently, many candidates do not try to match the quality of the samples.

Proposing an inappropriate degree for Foundation support. The application fails to propose a degree/degrees likely to prepare the candidate for addressing the problems identified in Item 9 of the Nominee Information Form and achieving the positions identified in Items 12 and 13.

Careless preparation. The application has errors in spelling, grammar, or syntax. It has a messy appearance. The candidate failed to respond thoughtfully to the items requiring narrative responses.

No aspiration to a position that in time will enable the candidate to affect policies or to change programs. As examples, the Truman Scholarship Finalists Selection Committee is more interested in advancing people whose long-term aspirations are to be high-level school administrators than teachers, persons working in policy analysis and research centers trying to develop guidelines for public program improvements than persons who want to teach and conduct academic/basic research, public health service managers than solo practitioners.

No evidence of leadership. The Nominee Information Form fails to show any substantial accomplishment in Item 7 or to reveal leadership positions in response to Items 2-4.

Poor writing. This can be dull, unrevealing, or wordy writing, especially in response to Items 7-9 and 14.