If you've got the smarts and great ideas, you may be eligible for one of many prestigious undergraduate and graduate fellowships. The following fellowships go to only the best and the brightest, and because of their exclusivity and high standards, these fellowships tend to be viewed as major accomplishments years after college or grad school.
Davidson Fellowships are given to students who have done a significant piece of work in math, science, music, literature, technology, philosophy or a category they call "outside the box." The work must have potential benefits to society. Davidson awards four $50,000 scholarships, seven $25,000 scholarships, and five $10,000 scholarships. There is no minimum age to apply, but the work must be completed before the age of 18.
The Fulbright Fellowship is one of the most prestigious in the world. They are awarded to US students who want to study in other countries and international students who want to study in the US. Many Fulbright Fellows have gone on to win prestigious awards, including several Nobel Laureates. The program is open to graduate students, young professionals, and artists who want to conduct research abroad.
White House Fellows allows bright young people interested in leadership and public service to work at the highest levels of federal government for a year. The positions are full-time and paid, and participants also participate in educational programs with leaders from public and private sectors. They may travel both domestically and internationally to study US policy. These fellowships are non-partisan in nature.
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowships pay for three years of graduate study for students doing research-based master's and doctoral degrees in science or engineering. To qualify, applicants must have already demonstrated potential for significant achievements.
The Jacob K. Javits Graduate Fellowship supports graduate students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Tuition and fees for graduate study are paid and the recipient is given a stipend of up to $30,000 for up to four years. The amount received is based in part on financial need. The program is highly competitive and awards between 60 and 100 fellowships each year.
James Madison Junior Fellowships provide $12,000 per year for up to two years of graduate education leading to a master's degree. Students must be planning to become secondary school teachers and teach American history, American government, or social studies. Students in the program study the U.S. Constitution. One fellowship is awarded to a student from each state.
Perhaps the most prestigious of all, the Rhodes Scholars program allows sixteen American students the opportunity to study at Oxford University for two years. There are 80 Rhodes Scholars chosen worldwide each year. Past recipients include several Nobel laureates, President Bill Clinton, astronomer Edwin Hubble, Olympic Gold Medalist and U.S. Senator Bill Bradley, Grammy-winning musician Kris Kristofferson, and James William Fulbright, founder of the Fulbright Fellowship program.