How You Can Help Your Student Prepare

As a parent or guardian, you have already completed the most important work in helping your student become a strong candidate for the Flinn Scholarship by fostering confidence, humility, and intellectual curiosity; the encouragement to become a leader; and support of the hard work that yields academic excellence.

There are many specific ways throughout your student’s high school years where you can help to ensure a strong application and candidacy. But perhaps most important, remind your student that neither this scholarship application, nor any other application for a scholarship or college, is the most important thing in the world. Extraordinary opportunities await, whether or not your student is selected for the Flinn Scholarship.

Below are ways you can help your high-school student prepare for the Flinn Scholarship application as well as a number of frequently asked questions.

Tips for Parents

  • Freshman, Sophomore, and Junior Year

    If your student is still a freshman, sophomore, or junior in high school, you can help your student become a stronger candidate for the Flinn Scholarship. With the caveat that there is no blueprint for a Flinn Scholar, here are a few considerations: We look for students who have taken risks, stretched their limits, and maximized the resources available to them. For example, we hope students will enroll in the most challenging, advanced courses that are available to them, even if doing so yields an imperfect GPA.

    The strongest candidates for the Flinn Scholarship tend to have deep, sustained involvement and leadership in several activities, rather than superficial involvement in a greater number of activities.

    Students should take the PSAT (the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test) in October of their junior year. This is the score that determines a student’s eligibility for National Merit Scholarship funding, the largest pool of merit scholarship money for undergraduate study.

    Students may take standardized tests like the ACT and SAT more than once. The selection committee for the Flinn Scholarship will consider the highest scores students earn and disregard the lower scores.

    Although not mandatory, you and your student are encouraged to attend information sessions about the Flinn Scholarship to learn more about the program and meet current and former Scholars as well as Flinn Foundation staff. Information sessions are held around the state each spring.

  • Senior Year

    The Flinn Scholarship application process begins early in students’ senior year and ends in early October. When the application opens in August, carefully read the application with your student and discuss any uncertainties each of you may have. Review the FAQs on this site, and if you have any lingering questions, be sure to email

    Beginning even before the application opens, you can make a list of deadlines and tasks to accomplish, such as taking the SAT, requesting recommendations from teachers and counselors, and submitting the application itself. We encourage parents and guardians to assist their students in tracking those deadlines and tasks, but students must independently complete their application without the assistance of their parents.


  • How are Flinn Scholars chosen?

    Competition is much more rigorous for the Flinn Scholarship than for admission to even the most selective colleges and universities; we receive more than 850 applications and award 20 scholarships each year. Flinn Scholars come from every corner of Arizona, and upon arrival at their university, choose concentrations in virtually every discipline. There is no blueprint for a Flinn Scholar.

    Merit, demonstrated by academic and personal achievement, is the only factor in selection. Financial need is not a consideration. Our reviewers, a large panel of distinguished community members and Flinn Scholar alumni, examine applicants’ academic achievement, leadership and involvement, service to the community, ability to communicate, and personal qualities. Each of these factors is an important part of the holistic picture that an applicant presents to us.

    From all applicants, reviewers select a group of semifinalists for a preliminary interview in January at the offices of the Flinn Foundation. Following this interview, about 40 applicants are named finalists and invited for a personal interview with the Selection Committee in the last week of February or first week of March. The Selection Committee, comprised of state leaders in various fields, recommends recipients to the Foundation’s Board of Directors, which makes the formal approval.

  • What does the Flinn Scholarship provide?
    Total value of the Flinn Scholarship—including the cash value of tuition offered by each university—exceeds $120,000. But the award’s monetary value is only the beginning. There are many benefits.
  • Why should my student apply for a Flinn Scholarship?

    Flinn Scholars have a competitive edge. Over the course of four years, they routinely compile extraordinary records of graduate-level coursework and published research. By graduation day, they have become globally-traveled leaders wielding influence in the state, nation, and world. And they convey a serious sense of purpose and goals. Every year, Scholars win prestigious fellowships such as the Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, Gates Cambridge, Churchill, Goldwater, Truman, and Udall, and alumni regularly attend the nation’s top graduate schools, often with full scholarships.

    Many Scholars say the most important aspect of the program is joining a community of similarly motivated students of diverse interests. They form long-lasting friendships within an unparalleled network of talented future leaders in every field you can imagine.

  • How strong are Arizona’s universities?

    Arizona’s universities are among the best public universities in the country. The honors programs and colleges offer undergraduates an Ivy League educational experience at a public-school price. Flinn Scholars and their honors peers enjoy unparalleled access to distinguished faculty, with whom they are often matched for personal mentorship.

    One of the important strengths of Arizona’s universities is their size: they offer thousands of courses in hundreds of degree-granting programs, world-class facilities for research and creative activity, and an array of extracurricular opportunities to satisfy the most curious student.

    As members of the universities’ honors programs and colleges, Flinn Scholars receive all the benefits of the large university in an intimate and intellectually rich setting.

    By every measurable dimension—undergraduate achievement, graduate-school acceptance, future employment competitiveness, and professional honors—graduates of Arizona universities realize high levels of success and distinction.

  • What does the Flinn Scholars Program expect of Flinn Scholars?
    Scholars submit an annual narrative about their coursework, on- and off-campus activities, career plans, and overall college experience. They must maintain a 3.2 cumulative grade-point average and participate in at least two Foundation-related activities each academic year.
  • Is any kind of guidance available if my student is having difficulty?
    Yes. We care greatly about the success and happiness of our Scholars and will immediately help a Scholar initiate contact with the university if the student is having difficulty. In addition to the conventional support services found on every university campus, Flinn Scholars often rely on their faculty mentors, honors staff, and each other for academic support.
  • Can home-schooled students apply for the Flinn Scholarship?

    Yes. The counselor recommendation and transcript are typically provided by the parent who took primary responsibility for the student’s education. That recommendation must provide information about the curriculum and home-schooling approach. The other two recommendations must be from persons who taught the student in an academic course at an accredited institution—high school, community college, or university. It is essential that we receive independent assessment of students’ academic and social performance in a group context like the environment they will encounter at the university.

  • What if my student doesn’t have access to the Internet to submit an application online? Can my student mail or fax an application back to the Foundation?
    Your student’s guidance counselor or teachers may be able to help him or her locate internet facilities for completing the application. Only under extraordinary circumstances will we make alternative arrangements.
  • What feedback on the application or interview can my student expect?

    We do not provide information regarding an individual’s performance to applicants, their families, or their teachers and counselors, during or after our selection process. All materials applicants submit, and all material generated during the review process (i.e., readers’ and interviewers’ notes) remain confidential, as do students’ teacher and counselor recommendations. Throughout the year, and throughout the state, we conduct information sessions for educators, students, and families. We confer with counselors to suggest how students can maximize their educational opportunities during their high school careers and thereby become viable candidates for a wide range of competitive programs and awards. And we offer in-service conferences for teachers and counselors to help them better support their students through our process.