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RESOURCES FOR APPLICANTS
Competitive candidates start the process early enough and take time to check the requirements, identify their objectives, skills, and strengths, develop strong relationships with their professors, write and revise their application materials, and prepare themselves for the journey. 
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First things to know
What can you start doing now to get ready for a nationally competitive award?
Writing essays
How to articulate who you are, your academic and professional goals, as well as the reasons why you should be considered for the opportunity you are applying for.
Commitment and service
Some opportunities require a follow-on project. What will you do to "give back"?
Don't forget the references
Recommendation letters are an important part of most competitive applications.