Jefferson Scholars Leadership Essay

The goal of nurturing future leaders is at the heart of the Jefferson Scholars Foundation’s mission: to attract to the University the most promising leaders, scholars, and citizens in the world.

The Scholarship

Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia is a place where producing leaders for a self-governing people has always been a primary goal. The undergraduate scholarship program has been attracting and cultivating undergraduate leaders since 1980, providing them sufficient financial support so that they are free to develop their talents and to use them for the good of the University community.

What makes a Jefferson scholar?

Award - ​Intended to cover the entire cost of attendance for four years at the University of Virginia plus coverage of the supplemental enrichment experiences

Total value of the scholarship exceeds:

  • $280,000 for non-Virginian students
  • $150,000 for Virginian students

The Jefferson Scholar Stipend in 2017-2018 will exceed:

  • $62,000 for non-Virginian students  
  • $31,500 for Virginian students
  • Jefferson Scholars’ stipend includes tuition, fees, books, supplies, room, board, and personal expenses.

Why U.Va.?

Enrichment - The scholarship also includes an extensive enrichment program which supports and nurtures these students throughout their four years at U.Va.  Opportunities include:

  • Team Challenge Program
  • Institute for Leadership and Citizenship
  • Foreign Travel Studies
  • Alumni Connections Program
  • Career Counseling
  • Public Service Fellows
  • Enrichment Dinners and Receptions

Community - Not to be overlooked, an important part of the program is the community that develops among Scholars, Graduate Fellows, staff, and alumni.  

Selection Process

Awarded solely on the basis of merit, Jefferson Scholarships are granted to candidates who have undergone a rigorous selection process.

Nomination - No one may apply for a Jefferson Scholarship directly. For the regional competitions, a prospective Jefferson Scholar must be nominated by his/her school (eligible schools may nominate one or two students per year from the senior class). Currently, over 4,500 secondary schools are eligible to nominate in the regional competitions.

When are nomination and selection?

Nominations for the scholarship pour in from all corners of the country and globe. In 2017, 2,005 students from 36 U.S. states and 37 countries were nominated. The depth and diversity of talent to consider ensures that we will invite a group of Scholars who will sharpen and challenge each other—and the University at large.

Is my school eligible to nominate?

Selection - Once nominated, students are placed into regional competitions, which will determine the 120 finalists who will be invited to Charlottesville for the Jefferson Scholarship Selection Weekend in late March.

Where do scholars come from?

In 2016-2017, 36 Jefferson Scholars emerged from the pool of 2,005 nominees.

Can a school nominate more than one candidate for the Jefferson Scholarship?
Schools are asked to nominate from their senior class that individual who excels in leadership, scholarship, and citizenship.   A strong candidate possesses all three criteria which are weighed equally. We wish for your school's nominating committee to designate ONE student to compete for the Jefferson Scholarship. However, we will allow schools to nominate a second candidate IF and ONLY IF they feel they have two equally qualified candidates between whom they are unable to distinguish.

Must a nominee apply to UVa?
The nomination process is entirely separate from the University of Virginia admissions process. The nominee is not required to apply to UVa by our December 1 deadline, but we strongly encourage them to submit an application to the University by their January 1 deadline.  Note: SAT I or ACT scores are required for admission to the University as a first year and arrangements should be made to have taken one of the tests prior to January of the nominee's senior year.

I have applied (Early Action or Regular Decision) to UVa and am waiting for my decision.  How do the possible outcomes impact my candidacy for the Jefferson Scholarship?
It is important to understand that the Jefferson Scholarship selection process is completely independent of the University of Virginia’s admission process. Your designation as a Jefferson Scholar Nominee does not influence the decision made by the University of Virginia’s Office of Undergraduate Admission.  Likewise, the results of the Jefferson Scholarship competition do not influence your admission decision.  Necessarily, your application to the University of Virginia is reviewed with the same parameters used to evaluate the nearly thirty thousand applications the Office of Undergraduate Admission expects to receive.

The separate application tracks will play out in your case depending on the results from each process.  To help clarify individual situations, the applicable scenarios are outlined below:

*Early Action Applicants*
If you are DENIED admission to the University of Virginia through the Early Action review, then you will be automatically disqualified from consideration for the Jefferson Scholarship.  In the case that you had been invited to participate in a regional interview at a later date, we will notify the regional chair on your behalf that you will no longer be participating.

If you are DEFERRED admission or ACCEPTED to the University of Virginia through the Early Action review, your standing in the Jefferson Scholarship selection process will not be affected.

*Regular Decision Applicants*
Your participation and status in the Jefferson Scholarship competition will have no impact on your admission decision from the University of Virginia's Office of Undergraduate Admission.

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