The McNair Scholars Program, Tips, and a Video Feature

April 4, 2019
Maya Mundell

The McNair Scholars program is amazing. It prepares students from underrepresented and underserved sectors of society to undertake academic research and thrive in graduate school. Most chapters of the McNair Scholars program even provide participating students with generous stipends, funded summer research programs, and a host of other academic resources and financial support.

I fondly think back to the time I was a McNair Scholar on Cornell’s campus. The program afforded me the opportunity to work and build relationships with some of the university’s most influential professors and faculty, partake in free academic counseling, and travel around the country to present my own research for FREE. That’s right, I got to travel and attend fancy conferences and research symposiums for FREE—McNair made that possible. All students who are thinking about graduate school and/or academic careers should definitely apply. Unfortunately, the program isn’t available at every U.S. college or university. You can check if your college or university has a McNair Scholars program by viewing this  list . Each college/university participating in the McNair program constructs its own specific application. Although the application processes may differ from university to university, I’m still able to provide some general tips for applying. If you’re planning to apply, this is what you should do: 1. Highlight (in either your resume or essay/written statement) any of your current or past activities or work that will better prepare you for the intensive academic research that McNair requires from selected students. Have you ever conducted or presented research before? Have you ever been a research or teaching assistant? If so, great! If not, try to find a project to work on or a professor to assist (remember, this is just a tip, not all programs require applicants to have had previous research experience). 2. Clearly state how you expect your involvement in McNair will better prepare you to undertake your postgraduate academic and/or career goals. Do you want to become a famous neuroscientist? A renowned professor? Let it be known and explain how the McNair program’s resources and opportunities (like participating in the faculty guided research, for example) will help you reach your goal. 3. Tell the selection committee how you plan on contributing to the greater McNair community and how you will support your fellow McNair Scholars. Give examples and be specific. Do you plan on collaborating with other students to present research at an academic conference or symposium? Are you interested in doing community outreach to recruit fellow students to the program. Talking about what you plan to do for others always appeals to the selection committee. Cornell University takes their participation in the McNair Scholars program pretty seriously. A couple of years ago, I was lucky enough to be included in their video campaign. Check out the video below.

Ok ladies and gentlemen, go find out if your college/university has an active McNair Scholars Program chapter and apply if you’re eligible. This is an opportunity you don’t want to miss. Best of luck! Click the image below to join the Student Debt Prevention Movement and get your free “Be Free After Graduation” PDF guide!