Preparing Your Application

You have launched your online application, submitted your records release form to NCA, marked all deadlines (internal and external) on your calendar, and created a drafting schedule. Now, you need to prepare your application materials.

Typical* elements of an application include biographical information entered directly into the online application, letters of recommendation, transcripts, a project proposal, and a personal statement.

As you read more about the facets of a typical application, remember that elements all work together to paint a picture of you as a whole. Don’t forget to consider how they speak to one another

Online Application

For many awards, a résumé is replaced by fields where you enter biographical information, work/internship experience, educational history, etc. (though some awards still request a résumé). This may be the first information from you that a reviewer reads, so take care when entering it. Be thoughtful about the formatting, and proofread!


Carefully read the requirements about transcripts. At what stage must they be submitted? Must they be official, or will unofficial suffice? If NCA has advance notice of your application, we can procure UC transcripts for you, but you need to assemble transcripts from other universities you have attended.

Letters of Recommendation

Recommendation letters play a very important role in your application, so it is important to have strong relationships with faculty . You may submit anywhere from 2 to 8 letters, depending on the award. When you select your recommenders, think about the role that each one will play in your application.

We offer some best practices for requesting recommendation letters.


Writing your essays will be the most time-consuming part of your application. This is your opportunity to present yourself, in your own words, to the fellowship foundation.

Here are suggested strategies for writing your best essays.