Advice from a Past Participant
1998 Truman Scholarship Participant, Eugene Huang, gives a few general suggestions.
I want to encourage you to start early. As I'm sure you are aware, the application can be, prima facie, extremely daunting. There is no set formula, no "tricks", and no method by which you can prepare. In talking with others and from personal experience, it was nothing short of a truly rewarding process which, win or lose, allowed me to explore and clarify my own perspectives on my prior experiences and what I plan on pursuing in the future. I can only stress that regardless of your personal outcome with the Truman, that your own goals, dreams and aspirations remain undeterred as you move forward into the future. There are no losers in the process — everyone in the end wins.
A few general suggestions:
Be yourself in your application, not what you believe that the Truman Foundation, or anyone else, thinks you should be.
Read newspapers and magazines on current affairs voraciously. The leanings and political viewpoints are unimportant; examples include the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, Vanity Fair, the Economist, etc.
Faculty and friends can be very helpful, especially in reading drafts and critiquing your work.
Start early, especially in obtaining your recommendations. Even for the most conscientious, you might have to remind a couple of times (and give a few weeks) before your recommendations come through.
The samples provided by the Foundation on their Web site and in their candidate packet may also help you in pulling together your application.
And relax. You have nothing to worry about. Nobody can take away your own personal accomplishments.
I hope that helps. Good luck and best wishes.