Frequently Asked Questions

Applying for the Park Scholarships Program

How do I apply for the Park Scholarships program?

  1. Submit a complete Park Scholarships application by Nov. 1.
  2. Submit an application for admission to NC State by Nov. 1.

Are official ACT or SAT scores required?

The Park Scholarships program will not evaluate ACT or SAT scores as part of our selection process in 2023-2024.

Is there a minimum GPA that students must have in order to apply?

A minimum unweighted GPA of 3.5 and/or a minimum weighted GPA of 4.0 is required to apply for the Park Scholarships program. A successful Park Scholar applicant is also a competitive applicant to NC State University.

What are the Park Scholarships application essay prompts? What tips do you have for writing essays?

The Park Scholarships application essay prompts change annually. The two essay prompts for the 2023-2024 selection cycle (the Class of 2028) are listed below. Each essay response is limited to 600 words.

Instructions from the application: The Park Scholarships selection criteria are scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Park Scholars are intellectually curious students who seek learning experiences beyond the classroom. They dedicate themselves to making a positive difference in their communities. Park Scholars listen well, lead by example, take risks, and champion original ideas. They demonstrate the highest levels of integrity, honesty, and conscientiousness.

Strong applicants describe their experience and potential in the four criteria in these two essays. As you write your responses, we welcome you to include any settings that have been part of your high school experience – school, community, work, family, etc.

Essay Prompts

  1. Critical and creative thinking are valuable skills in problem solving. Tell us about a time in which you used one or both of these skills to address a problem or a need, in or out of the classroom.
  2. How do you serve and/or lead others? Why do you engage in this service and/or leadership? What impact have you made? 

Your essays should delve beneath the surface and reveal insights about your candidacy based on our four selection criteria: scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Essays that go beyond merely describing an experience, person, or project help our Selection Committee learn more about you.

What information will you use from my NC State/CommonApp?

From your NC State admission application we will also review your:

  • Activities and honors
  • Personal essay
  • NC State’s short-answer essays
  • NC State’s optional short answer essays
  • Transcript
  • We do NOT have access to general recommendations submitted to the NC State application.

Who should write my letters of recommendation?

The best recommendation letters are from people who know you well and can provide specific examples of how you meet the selection criteria. At least one of your recommenders should be someone who is familiar with your academics. This could be a high school teacher, community college instructor/faculty member, counselor/advisor, or principal.

The Selection Committee will only see the recommendation letters submitted as part of your Park Scholarships application. They will not see recommendation letters submitted as part of your application for admission to NC State. You may use the same recommenders if at least one meets the criteria above. Remember to select recommenders familiar with your accomplishments and potential in scholarship, leadership, service, and character.

Recommendations are due by 11:59pm, November 1. If recommendations are not submitted by the Nov. 1 deadline your application will not be eligible for consideration in our process.

What tips do you have for preparing my application?

Applications offer our first picture of Park Scholarships candidates. To paraphrase Park Scholar Sam Dotson ’24: “The Park Scholarships Selection Committee wants to get to know each candidate as a person, so dig deep into who you are and present your most authentic self to the Selection Committee.” Answer the essay prompts the way you want to answer them, not with words you think someone else wants to hear. Stay true to yourself and focus on the four pillars of the Park Scholarships program: scholarship, leadership, service, and character.

Are there additional resources available to help me with my application?

Park Under-Resourced Assistance (PURA) is a student-run initiative to help under-resourced candidates through each phase of the selection process. PURA works exclusively with under-resourced applicants, defined under a broad scope of identities including, but not limited to, applicants who are first-generation, are from low-income backgrounds, attend overpopulated schools, are from rural areas, and who identify with other marginalized populations. PURA essay submission instructions and resources will be available in October. Learn more about PURA.

What happened to endorsements?

Prior to fall 2022, counselor and self-endorsements were a part of the Park Scholarships application process. To reduce burdens on prospective students and counselors, the Park Scholarships program has discontinued the endorsement process. Prospective students may access the application as soon as it is available and are encouraged to start it as early as possible.

If I no longer wish to be considered for the Park Scholarships program, what must I do?

Should you opt not to continue in the Park Scholarships selection process at any point, please email with your request to withdraw from consideration.

Selection Process

How are Park Scholars selected?

At every stage of the process, the Selection Committee evaluates all candidates on the following criteria: scholarship, leadership, service, and character. Applications are reviewed by Regional Selection Committee members. Approximately 450 Semifinalists are selected each year to participate in Semifinal Interviews. After those interviews, 112 Finalists are selected and invited to participate in Final Selection Activities in February. For more detail, visit the Selection Process page.

Is financial need taken into consideration?

The Park Scholarship is a merit-based award and financial need is not a selection criterion. Park Scholarships candidates should also apply for need-based aid if they think they may be eligible. For more information, visit Student Services’ Financial Aid website.

When are Park Scholars selected? When will I know about my status?

All applicants will be notified at each stage via email, but they can also check their status in their wolfPAW portal. In general, candidates are notified of their Semifinalist status in late December and their Finalist status in late January. Park Scholarships recipients are notified in March. The new class of Park Scholars is announced in early May. See the “Important Dates” sidebar for specific notification dates.

Can the Park Scholarship be deferred?

Yes; in fact, we encourage students to defer their university studies for one year to travel or work abroad or to engage in some other “gap year” activity. Incoming students may request a deferral in writing.

What are Park Scholarships interviews like?

Our interviews usually last 20-30 minutes and are conducted by a panel of 2-4 alumni and faculty Selection Committee members. Students should expect questions related to the selection criteria and their applications. Candidates do not need to study for interviews but should review their applications beforehand. Interviews also provide candidates an opportunity to ask questions about the Park Scholarships program and NC State.

Semifinal Interviews are held via Zoom. Finalist Interviews are held in-person during our Final Selection Activities weekend.

May I reschedule my Semifinalist or Finalist interviews if I have a conflict?

We regret that we cannot reschedule interviews. Hundreds of alumni, faculty, and current Park Scholar volunteers are involved with Semifinalist and Finalist interviews; thus, we are unable to arrange alternate dates. We announce interview dates approximately 6-8 months in advance. See the “Important Dates” sidebar for the current selection cycle’s interview dates.

The Park Scholarships Program

What is the Park Scholarships program?

The Park Scholarships program brings exceptional students to NC State, based on outstanding accomplishments and potential in scholarship, leadership, service, and character. The program develops and supports Park Scholars in these areas, preparing them for lifelong contributions to the campus, state, nation, and world. The scholarship is a four-year award that covers tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, travel, and personal expenses. An academic enrichment program complements the financial award.

What is the Park Foundation?

The Park Scholarships program was established to honor the legacy of the late Roy H. Park ’31, a distinguished alumnus of NC State and founder of Park Communications. The charitable Park Foundation helped launch the Park Scholarships program through a series of grants and a $50 million gift to start an endowment for the program. Today, students, alumni, families, faculty, and friends have joined the effort to fully endow the Park Scholarships program. Find out how you can invest in exceptional students dedicated to scholarship, leadership, service, and character.

What are the conditions for renewal of the Park Scholarships?

The Park Scholarship is renewable for a total of eight semesters at NC State. Scholars must meet high standards in academic performance, character, conduct, and participation in program and service activities while completing at least 12 credit hours per semester.

Am I able to receive scholarships in addition to the Park Scholarship?

Per university policy, Park Scholars are eligible for additional merit scholarships from North Carolina State University provided they do not receive funds that exceed the Cost of Attendance as defined by the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, unless the awarding department stipulates otherwise.

If you have received scholarship money from outside the university, it is up to that funding source whether or not you are eligible for its scholarship. If you are still eligible, and the total of the outside scholarship(s) and the Park Scholarship is higher than your Cost of Attendance in a semester, NC State will adjust the Park Scholarship to reflect other funds received so that the total amount of funds a student receives is not more than the Cost of Attendance.

With respect to need-based financial aid, we highly encourage Park Scholars to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) annually so they may receive the need-based aid for which they are eligible. Park Scholars who have applied for and receive Federal Pell grants, grants from the state of North Carolina, or university grants to meet their demonstrated need will have the Park Scholarship reduced appropriately to keep the student within the Cost of Attendance. For additional questions, please call the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid at 919-515-2421.

Can Park Scholars receive additional funding for activities?

Yes. Park Scholars may apply for Park Enrichment Grants to support professional and personal enrichment experiences in the U.S. and abroad. Scholars have the opportunity to apply for travel grants awarded by the Park Alumni Society in order to cover airfare for fall and spring study abroad experiences.

Park Scholars are also eligible to apply for the supplemental funding resources available to all students at NC State, including:

Does being a Park Scholar take a lot of time?

Park Scholars spend time on service and program activities. A student should expect to spend about the same time on Park Scholarships activities as might be spent on a three credit-hour university course.

What are Park Faculty Scholars?

Park Faculty Scholars are two NC State professors who meet regularly with each class of Park Scholars and assist them in organizing their enrichment activities. For a list of the current Park Faculty Scholars, visit the Staff and Faculty section of this site.

What are Learning Labs?

Park Scholars participate in two Learning Labs – trips for scholars to learn about challenges facing leaders at the state, national, and global levels. The first trip is to a region of North Carolina during spring of the first year. Learning Lab II takes place in Washington, D.C., during fall break of the sophomore year.

Where do Park Scholars go after they graduate?

Park Scholars attend prestigious graduate and professional programs at institutions including Cambridge, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, MIT, Oxford, and Stanford. They work for Fortune 100 companies, launch their own businesses, and engage in public service through programs like Teach For America and the Peace Corps. See the Park Alumni page for more details.

If you have a question that is not answered on the Park Scholarships website, you can contact the Park Scholarships office by email at or by phone at 919-515-3794.