Awarded solely on the basis of merit, Jefferson Scholarships are granted to candidates who have undergone a rigorous selection process. No one may apply for a Jefferson Scholarship directly. For the regional competitions, a prospective Jefferson Scholar must be nominated by his/her school (eligible schools may nominate one or two students per year from the senior class). Over 3,700 secondary schools were eligible to participate in the regional competitions in 2011-2012.
For the 2011-2012 competition, the Foundation received nearly 1,300 nominations from secondary schools participating in the regional competitions. Nominations are completed by both school officials and students and include a scholastic report, extracurricular activities, recommendation letters and two essays.
Each year the Foundation identifies finalists through 54 regional competitions around the country and 2 international competitions. Regional selection committees—comprised of alumni and friends of the University—review transcripts, extracurricular activities, essays, and teacher recommendations before conducting one or more rounds of interviews. Of these regional nominees, 102 finalists are chosen to come to Charlottesville to compete at the Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend in March.
With the cooperation of the University’s Office of Admission, all Early Action applicants to the University who attended secondary schools outside the geographical regions, as well as applicants to the Schools of Nursing, Architecture, and Engineering were screened as potential Jefferson Scholar candidates. To be considered in the at-large and international screening processes, students must have applied to the University and returned their completed application to the Office of Admission by their Early Action deadline (November 1). Additionally, at-large and international candidates must request that the Educational Testing Service forward their SAT results directly to the University.
In March, all 102 finalists arrived on Grounds for the four-day Jefferson Scholars Selection Weekend. Activities included participation in seminars led by University professors, a written exercise, a math/logic exam, and personal interviews. At the competition’s conclusion, the Selection Committee selected a class of 31 new Jefferson Scholars.