When thinking about applying for a Fulbright award, here are some important tips to consider:
- Choose a country strategically
List what you hope to gain from applying to a specific country, including your familiarity with the language, culture, and history of that country. Would you have more in common and knowledge about a different country? Also, focus on the number of awards available for each country and think critically about the competition and applicant pool for the countries that interest you.
- Tell a story
One Fulbrighter suggests that you should think about crafting a story with your application:
“Many people will write a statement in a professional format, but the readers of these statements will be reading hundreds of applications with a similar format. Start off with a personal narrative that directly relates to your why, and I guarantee you that the statement will be much stronger and stand out among a pool of applicants.
“My personal narrative began with how I picked up a second language growing up due to linguistic barriers between my grandmother, who took care of me for many years while my parents were working. This tied back to my interest in applying for a Fulbright ETA grant to Portugal. Don’t be afraid to be a little vulnerable and a little personable in communicating why you would be the best fit.”
- Read the Fulbright Act and use its language in your essays
Another former participant had a great suggestion for creating a compelling application:
“I personally highlighted important phrases from the Fulbright charter, the Fulbright website’s mission, as well as the post’s country profile. I made sure to incorporate this language into my story. This helps you stay focused on the purpose of this program and exchange experience.”
- Ask for feedback
Successful applicants often seek out feedback from different people. You can seek assistance from the U’s Writing Center, your professors, and the director of the Fulbright Program.
As another Fulbrighter wrote, “the different perspectives helped me fine-tune my application and polish both my Personal Statement and Statement of Grant Purpose.”
- Choose recommenders who know you
Think strategically about the choice of recommenders. For an ETA application, ask those who have supervised you when you have taught, tutored, or mentored others. You may also know someone who witnessed your ability to navigate through a different culture (Learning Abroad supervisor). For a Research and Study applications, the strongest letters are from your professors with whom you have taken classes or conducted research.
- Just do it!
Finally, for those needing an extra push, a Fulbright ETA has this advice:
“The first and most important tip I have is to just do it. I was not going to apply for Fulbright because I thought I was not going to get it. I did not think I was going to get it until I got it. It is very easy to feel like you are not good enough; the application is lengthy, the wait time to hear back about your application is unbearable and doing all this on top of your normal obligations might seem insane; however, the experience is worth it. There is so much to learn by going abroad and through the opportunities the fellowship offers.”
If you want to talk about the Fulbright program, the various awards, and your own ideas about the application, please contact Prof. Howard Lehman, Director of the Fulbright Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.