Disruptions caused by COVID-19
The Foundation is well aware that the disruption caused by COVID-19 is likely to create additional concerns about how applicants will be evaluated in the coming selection cycles. We have prepared the following guidance to help. Please remember that this situation is evolving and we may update this advice as necessary.
Leadership & Service Opportunities:
We assume the vast majority of applicants will have been in stasis since Spring of 2020: campus and community leadership opportunities cancelled, volunteer activities limited and internships or other employment either virtual or non-existent. We expect applicants to focus on completing their coursework and maintaining some contact with their leadership and service organizations, but little else. There may have been some easing of restrictions in early 2021, but that is in flux as well.
For the majority of applicants, they will not need to go into much detail regarding the disruptions caused by COVID-19. These disruptions are explicable and universal. Our readers will be instructed that a baseline self-quarantine for spring and summer 2020 is expected of all applicants. While letter writers can discuss these disruptions, it is probably not necessary and may be counterproductive for applicants to discuss them in their materials. Using limited application space to discuss issues that are identical to most other applications is not persuasive and could take space away from the very experiences that make an applicant compelling and interesting.
Applicants with pre-existing health conditions, family obligations, limited internet access or housing insecurity might have even further reduced opportunities for leadership and service. These applicants will need to provide additional information - either in the supporting letters or their materials - to ensure we adequately understand their circumstances.
Applicants should work directly with Advisors and letter writers to ensure these variations are adequately covered in their materials. Straightforward pieces of information (e.g. the applicant has a medical condition that required them to observe quarantine for a longer period than most) can best be conveyed in the nominating letter - thus allowing the applicant the ability to discuss other items in their application if they wish. Likewise, applicants who were able to engage in leadership and service projects during the pandemic can discuss with their Advisors and letter writers how best to present those items.
Likelihood of Academic Success:
The Truman Foundation is generally less concerned with GPA than we are that an applicant's current academic performance is likely to secure them a spot at the graduate school identified in Question 11. We are assuming that most schools have either mandated or offered pass/fail grading for the Spring 2020 semester. Thus, a decision to take a semester pass/fail is unlikely to significantly change our assessment.
Some students may feel that an additional semester of grades was critical to bolstering their case for graduate school. This concern may be particularly acute for those students who had weaker grades during their first year. In that case, you should work with both your Advisor and the author of your academic letter of recommendation to address these issues in their letters.
Additional Information in Question 14:
We provide space in Question 14 to discuss additional information that may be helpful to our readers. For many of you, there may be a desire to discuss COVID-19 and the impact it has had in this space. We would caution you to use this space wisely. While COVID-19 represents a serious impact on the lives of everyone, unless you are able to write something unique in this space, you might wish to use it to discuss other matters that are more germane to your overall application. Again, it is best to consult with your Advisors as well as follow the guidance provided elsewhere on our website as well as on our Twitter feed.
Leaves of Absence:
Students who have elected to take a leave of absence may still be nominated so long as the institution is willing to do so. Please determine if the leave of absence will result in a change to the student's graduation date and adjust the timing of the application accordingly. Students who are graduating in three (or fewer) years would apply in their final year.
We have had several inquiries regarding what impact arrest or citation for civil disobedience might have on a Truman application. We have had a number of applicants and Scholars involved in protest activities - we have also had a number of applicants and Scholars who have had arrests and convictions on other matters. We do not consider such things a barrier to application - indeed in some situations such activities have been integral to an applicant's journey in public service. Discussion of such matters in application materials is subject to many considerations. Advisors should contact Tara Yglesias for guidance.
2022 Message from the Executive Secretary
A message from our Executive Secretary, Dr. Terry Babcock Lumish, to all registered Advisors.
November 11, 2021
Welcome to the 2022 Truman application cycle!
We appreciate your patience as we complete the redesign of our application, which is now open and available here (https://new.truman.gov/user/login). You should be able to log into our new website using the same credentials. You can also reset your password from this page. As always, if you have difficulty, please contact Tara Yglesias (email@example.com). For those who registered applicants on our current website, you will need to re-register them on the new one. Both will continue to be available for the next several weeks so that everyone can move their materials. Applications are due on Tuesday, February 1, 2022.
Consistent with our recent years’ messaging and annual cohorts, there is no one-size-fits-all Truman Scholar. When it comes to cultivating leaders, our diversity is our strength. We see stellar applicants working in traditional political and policy roles – the campaign volunteer, the campus reformer, the nonprofit leader, the community activist – but we also welcome applicants pursuing meaningful change via science, technology, the arts, and other innovative avenues.
We realize that the world is still very different from pre-pandemic times, which will be reflected in our annual competition. We respect that there are challenges we can see and know from our application, as well as many we cannot. We, along with all of our readers and interviewers, do our best to take into account the recent years' realities to give each Truman applicant the fairest possible consideration. There are ways that you can help – both by continuing to provide guidance and support, as well as alerting us to issues that may not be obvious from an applicant’s written materials.
We are acutely aware of the challenges facing not only applicants but also campus communities, including all of you. We recognize that many face hardships introduced by illness and economic instability. Campus resources – including advising – are stretched thin and subject to conflicting demands. Accordingly, Truman Foundation staff is here to assist however we can.
While much has changed in our world, the content and questions in our application, as well as our selection criteria, have not. You will see an updated website, but the same questions. You may notice that we adjusted the response areas for some questions.
We are offering a webinar for advisors at 2pm EST on Tuesday, November 30th, and one for candidates 2pm EST on Friday, December 3rd. We will then run another webinar in early January for both candidates and advisors. Additionally, the current Truman website still offers a great deal of information, including video tutorials and an FAQ, at truman.gov.
We currently plan to conduct our spring 2022 interviews in person. However, we will make allowances for individual situations or if the public health conditions in an area require them. Please keep eyes peeled for Foundation communication regarding any updates.
Should you have any questions about the online application, our program, or the likely competitiveness of individual candidates, you are welcome to contact Tara Yglesias (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you for identifying and supporting our nation's next generation of public service leaders.
Yours in service,