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Davidson’s Belk Scholarship - My Experience

IfIKnewThenIfIKnewThen Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
edited December 2011 in Davidson College
I went through the application process this year and was in the hunt for merit aid (only full rides). Of all the schools I applied to, Davidson was one of the few that I applied to for reasons other than merit aid. When I was applying, the info from former applicants on this site was invaluable. So here’s my take on the whole thing. I hope it helps someone.

So, the Belk is a full ride scholarship (tuition, room, and board for all four years) and it comes with two $3000 stipends. It’s incredibly easy to apply to with no additional essays. All you have to do is apply to Davidson by December 1st and have your school nominate you. Then, after your entire application is reviewed, out of 800 nominees, about 60 are selected as semifinalists. Semifinalists undergo telephone interviews. 30 are then designated finalists and invited to campus for a ‘Celebration and Selection Weekend’.

Though the timeline varies from year to year, this year it went like this:
-December 1st: Deadline to apply.
-February 2nd: Was notified I was a semifinalist.
-February 10th: Phone interview. This was with 5 people - a mixture of admissions officers, a Belk scholar, and maybe a professor. I’m not 100% sure. Also, they sent us two questions to think about beforehand:
1)Some believe that the tone of public discourse has become too uncivil to find solutions to the pressing issues we currently face. Others believe that incendiary rhetoric can inspire people to affect great change. In your opinion, what is the current state of public discourse? What, if anything, would you change and why?
2)How do you imagine/expect/hope that the Davidson experience will change you as a person? And how do you imagine your being here might change others?
-February 16th: Was notified I was a finalist.
-March 24th-26th: Finalist Weekend. On the 25th was a 35 minute interview with 6 people. Three Belk scholars (two were current seniors, another was an alumnus), the daughter of John Montgomery Belk, a Professor, and the Dean of Admissions.
-March 31st: Notified I hadn’t won.

Okay, I attended quite a few merit weekends and I have to say, Davidson’s was the best. They knew what they were doing and the finalists were outstanding. Practically all of them had multiple full ride offers from other colleges, had been accepted to HYP, and etc. And again, of all the colleges that offer merit aid, if you want an intimate setting and the special treatment, Davidson is the way to go.

More on merit weekend: You’re paired up with a current Belk scholar and if you’re unfortunate enough to get a senior, then that senior will be evaluating you the entire time and may even be one of your interviewers (one girl actually ended up being interviewed by her host). The interview is the most important thing. What they do is split the finalists into groups (5 or 6) and basically, when you interview, they’ll measure you up to the people in your group. One person from each group becomes a finalist and then they pick the second best from each group and measure him/her against the second bests from the other groups. Also, they’ll be selling Davidson like crazy and they do this better than other colleges because they specifically highlight what they offer in regards to your individual interests. And they’re big on stealing applicants from HYPSM and top ranked liberal arts colleges because of all the other colleges Davidson asked (multiple times) what my other top choices are.

During the interview, I was asked the following questions:
1) Knowing what you know now, what event would you change and why?
2) Name an algorithm, theory, fact, incident, that makes you want to learn for the sake of learning.
3) What are some of your philosophies on life?
4) Recall a debate you’ve lost, why did you lose?

Anyway, 8 scholars were chosen this year (4 girls and 4 boys). 2 were selected as alternates.


If you want more info, just let me know.
Post edited by IfIKnewThen on

Replies to: Davidson’s Belk Scholarship - My Experience

  • siliconvalleymomsiliconvalleymom Registered User Posts: 4,461 Senior Member
    Those are tough interview questions!
    Not so much about the scholarship, but Davidson is increasingly gaining popularity, in our urban centre, far from No. Carolina. Of the two kids I know, personally, who have attended and will attend, they are definitely original thinkers, with some other great acceptances. In fact, the kid starting Davidson, this Fall, was set to go to Penn and then attended some sort of (accepted students, maybe?) weekend at Davidson, which really highlighted some things about Penn that he didn't like and things that he felt he could only get at Davidson. Davidson has also caught fire for some families, we know, who have smart kids whom they believe to be basketball prodigies.

    IfIKnew..., will you attend Davidson?
  • IfIKnewThenIfIKnewThen Registered User Posts: 11 New Member
    @siliconvalleymom, yes they were incredibly difficult interview questions. And this is coming from someone who was interviewed for other major scholarships and multiple Ivy League universities. Davidson’s questions were the toughest.

    @antidramaqueen, Davidson really is gaining popularity, not only on a national scale but also on an international scale. There were two finalists who flew in from abroad to interview (one from South America and the other from the Middle East). And the Division I characteristic of Davidson is a huge sell for many.

    The one thing that was off putting about Davidson (and ultimately the reason I chose not to attend), is the fact that though 91% of students don’t receive merit awards, the 9% who do are given special treatment. The professors know their names before their arrival, they usually have advantages at getting grants. . . and I only know this because current Belk students highlighted this benefit during Belk weekend.
  • oahumomoahumom Registered User Posts: 5 New Member
    Hi ifIknewThen, Did Davidson offer you a good merit scholarship as you were a finalist for the Belk? or is it all or nothing... basically 8 kids get a full ride and everybody else pretty much nothing...? What school did you choose to attend in the end?
  • LaraDTLaraDT Registered User Posts: 4 New Member
    My D attended the Davidson Belk Scholar finalist weekend last year and I know we found found the description by ifIKnewThen helpful, so here is an update from 2013.

    My D attended scholar weekends at Davidson, W&L, and Univ. of Richmond, with Davidson and W&L’s much better than UR’s. The Davidson process as described by ifIKnewThen was the same with 28 finalists attending the finalist weekend in March 2013.

    The weekend offered as much for parents as students with separate presentations on student life, finances, etc. and organized lunches/dinners/teas where we were encouraged to sit with students other than our own child. These functions were also attended by faculty and administration so there was ample time to ask questions and get to know the types of students Davidson values. The interview process was the same as described by ifIKnewThen — my D even received the algorithm question. I’ll add that a main purpose of the weekend is, obviously, to sell Davidson and they do a great job of this. Also, all finalists that attend the weekend are awarded a Chambers Scholarship that, in 2013, was worth $15,000 annually.

    The notifications occurred the following week. My daughter found out at the end of the week that she was not selected, but was an alternate. Davidson did not specify how many alternates they chose — my thought is that many finalists received alternate status. Knowing decisions had to be made by May 1, Davidson waited until April 29th to let my D know she was not selected.

    I will say that I thought going into the weekend that all the finalists were equal on paper and that the purpose of the weekend was to evaluate how they handled themselves in social situations. I’m not sure this was the case, as there were two young men and a young woman that seemed, to me, to stand out and none of these was selected. So, the idea that Davidson brings in top candidates to sell them on Davidson seems solid.

    My D decided to take the full Johnson Scholarship at W&L rather than the partial Chambers Scholarship at Davidson. While I am sure she would have been very happy at Davidson, she is truly happy at W&L so I’m not sure the idea that a student can be happy at one or the other, but not both still holds true.
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