Selecting the top 50 seniors at a university with more than 29,000 undergraduates is no small task, just ask the 2015-2016 vice president of membership, Brooke Walterscheid. Last spring, she oversaw the selection of the current Mortar Board class. Now, she is returning with application advice for the incoming class.
Why should I apply to Mortar Board?
I want to encourage any and all qualified students to apply to Mortar Board. The beauty of the organization is that it is representative of the best of the entire university, and reflects the diversity of its students’ interests. Unlike other student organizations or honor societies that are united by a common cause related to some particular interest, hobby, or field of study, Mortar Board brings its members together through its call to scholarship, leadership, and service. This is a unique opportunity for students to connect and network with other peer leaders, while demonstrating their commitment to the organization’s ideals. Being a part of Mortar Board was the highlight of my undergraduate involvement, and I am thankful for the opportunity I had to grow as a student leader through my membership.
How can I make my application stand out?
Mortar Board receives many applications for membership. Last year, more than 160 students applied for 50 spots. I would suggest that applicants present a bulleted list of their involvement, which includes a description of the applicant’s role in each organization, service activity, or their responsibilities in their work positions or internships. Appropriately use enhancers, such as bold, italics, or underline, to draw attention to the highlights of your application. I caution applicants to use their time wisely in the week leading up to the deadline, and to not put the application off until the last minute. Carefully consider your application, include all relevant information, and please proofread.
Are some components of the application more important than others?
I would not say that any one part of the application is more important than others, as Mortar Board seeks students that are well rounded in scholarship, leadership, and service. I will say, though, that some applicants fail to realize the significance of the essay portion of the application. The essays are an opportunity to show the selection committee how you live your values and what areas you are passionate about, so I ask that applicants thoughtfully and thoroughly consider the given prompts.
What are you looking for in applicants?
In my personal approach to selection, I looked for students that were involved in various student organizations, and could demonstrate the value they created for those organizations as student leaders. Furthermore, I showed selection preference to students who exhibited balance, through a strong GPA, long-term demonstration of service activities, work or internship experience, and student leadership and organizational involvement. I feel that the current members of Mortar Board demonstrate this balance, and this approach has been adopted throughout the years of the selection process.
The application for the 2017-2018 Mortar Board class is available at www.ttumortarboard.com/apply and is due February 18, 2017.