All-USA Applicant Information
A guide for students applying for the All-USA Award in 2021
I'm Kyley Segers, the lead Honors Coordinator at Pima and I help oversee the All-USA nomination process at the college. Since you've expressed interested in the scholarship (or have started the application on ptk.org), I have a lot of information to share with you about this scholarship and application process, so dig in for a long read with several attachments :)
You'll want to start by checking that you meet eligibility requirements for the award. For students who are not Arizona residents (either international or out-of-state), note that the tuition waiver only covers in state tuition, might not be able to be combined with additional tuition waivers (for example the AZ-Sonoran waiver). If you're in this situation, it's worth contacting the financial aid department of the university where you'd use the award prior to applying to learn more - each university handles these situations differently.
Now that that's out of the way, I'll start by saying that this scholarship is amazing! "Winning" has multiple stages but can be a bit confusing. Here's how the application, judging, and award process goes:
1. Complete all parts of the ptk.org application by Pima's deadline of 11/15/21. (Note that even if PTK extends their deadline, Pima's deadline WILL NOT change.) You will then be judged by a committee of Pima employees. By being selected as one of Pima's 12 nominees you will be awarded a 60-credit tuition waiver for in-state tuition at NAU, ASU, or UAz. This is called the "All-Arizona Tuition Award". You'll need to begin using the award in Fall 2022 or Spring 2023, and will need to take at least 6 credits per semester to maintain the scholarship. To select nominees, the committee at Pima looks at your GPA, five service & leadership activities, and your endeavor project essay. We do not use ANY other application sections to judge you.
2. Pima then forwards our nominees to the Arizona Board of Regents, who partition all the Arizona nominees into award levels: First Team ($1000), Second Team ($750), and Third Team ($500). This is in addition to the tuition waiver. The state-level committee will use your full application to judge you.
3. The Arizona Board then sends the applications to the national level, where a committee from PTK will decide which of the nominees from the entire country will win various other awards such as All-USA ($5000), Coca-Cola Gold Team ($1500), Silver Team ($1250), Bronze Team ($1000), Oberndorf ($1000), Hites ($7500), Guistwhite ($5000), and others. Not all nominees are eligible for Oberndorf, Hites, or Guistwhite - these awards all have their own criteria, but if you are eligible the ptk.org application will have a tab for you to fill out information for those.
To help you prepare for the nomination, Pima Honors provides monthly Scholarship Information Sessions throughout the academic year on the first Friday of the month via Zoom. At these meetings we answer general questions about finding and applying for scholarships, we workshop ideas for endeavor projects, and in October and November we host essay revision parties to help applicants get their essays into tip-top shape.
The best advice I can give you in preparing for winning the nomination is to get involved in service and leadership ASAP and start working on your endeavor project NOW. At Pima we're fortunate that we have a very active Honors Program and PTK Chapter which both provide students with lots of opportunities to get involved and build impressive resumes that set us up for lots of national wins each year. The downside to this is that getting a nomination at Pima is competitive compared to many other colleges. Our winners will typically have several solid service activities, with essays discussing long-term work like club leadership positions, recurring volunteer participation, or leadership within volunteer activities. This is not meant to discourage any of our applicants, but I want you to have a clear picture of our expectations and inspire you to get involved early so you can make yourself one of those winning candidates!
A common question we get from students in this process is about what the endeavor project is. I describe it to students as a large-scale project that showcases intentionality, leadership, and impact. What that looks like can vary quite a bit, but in all cases the student should develop something that is meaningful to them and is constructed with care and effort. Then, they should put in a lot of time and energy to see the project come to fruition in a way that provides a lasting impact on their college, community, or world. This could mean starting a club and building it to have a strong presence and outreach at Pima and in Tucson, or it could be developing and managing a regular on-going event within the community like a park clean-up or meeting with seniors, or it could be putting on a workshop or conference meant to benefit students or community members. This is not an exhaustive list, just a few ideas to get you started - and I'm always happy to brainstorm ideas with you if you'd like to reach out to me and set up a virtual meeting. You can also read more about endeavor projects here.
I'll also attach a few important documents to this email - one is from ptk.org about the application process. It should answer any technical questions you have. Then there are two documents with advice about how to start your essay process. The last item I'll attach is a list of the questions pulled from the application portal - you can use this document as a way to start working on those essays now - the portal is a little clunky and it might be easier to cut and paste essays in there as you complete them. Although the deadline isn't until November 15th, you can begin writing all your other essays in the application now to get a head-start. This would be a great favor to future-you, who will be busy with classes when the application deadline starts getting close!
Finally, once you reach out to your recommender, they may have questions about the scholarship and what to focus on for their letter. I suggest you share this newsletter with them for general info about the scholarship, and PTK has a helpful guide for recommenders that you can share here.
If you'd like to meet with me to talk more about the process and preparing for the application, please feel free to reach out to me - I am here to help at email@example.com!