Fulbright Grant Information Guide
Making an Informed Decision: SHOULD I APPLY?
Now that you have gathered all the appropriate information, researched the possibilities of study and research overseas and consulted with advisors, YOU have a decision to make as to whether or not you will apply. A good starting point might be to ask yourself the following questions:
A. WILL I BE ON CAMPUS DURING THE SPRING OR SUMMER TO PREPARE MY APPLICATION?
If you will not be here during the spring or summer, you must seriously consider what steps you will need to take before you leave campus at the end of the Spring semester. Please be aware that it may be difficult to consult with advisors, professors, and potential recommenders long distance. You should take care of many details (i.e., prospective program research, contact faculty) before you leave campus. If you are interested in applying and will be away from campus during the spring or summer, please contact Education Abroad for advising.
B. WILL I BE AWAY FROM CAMPUS DURING THE FALL FOR CAMPUS INTERVIEWS AND DEADLINES?
It may be difficult to put together a competitive application if you will be away during the fall semester. Keep in mind that no matter how much work is done during the spring and summer, there are always last minute details to complete around the time of the campus deadline and interviews. If you will be away from campus during the fall semester, PLEASE stay in close touch with and seek advice from the Education Abroad office. If you are overseas or otherwise away from campus during the fall campus interviews, we may waive your interview and submit your application to the Fulbright Campus Screening Committee for a paper review and evaluation.
C. DO I FIND IT DIFFICULT TO MEET DEADLINES OR COMPLETE APPLICATIONS ON TIME?
During the scholarship process, there will be numerous deadlines that need to be met - campus deadlines, national deadlines - where no exceptions will be made. Applications which look rushed, unpolished, and are incomplete will be a waste of time for you, your recommenders, and the selection committees.
D. DO I HAVE THE TIME AND ENERGY TO COMMIT TO THIS PROCESS?
Participating in the Fulbright competition demands considerable time and energy, but if you plan ahead, that deadline in the first few weeks of Fall semester won't be quite as daunting! Most of spring and early summer should be spent researching study options and meeting with advisors and potential recommenders. Over the summer, you may work on writing and fine-tuning your essays. During the first few weeks of Fall semester, you will submit your application and prepare for campus (and, in a few cases, national) interviews.
It has been our experience that candidates who try to add applying for these awards on top of all of their other commitments (without prioritizing and cutting back) end up producing weaker applications. The time commitment during spring and summer are manageable (if spread out over time), but during the first few weeks of the fall semester, you will be required to give a lot of time and energy, concentrated in a smaller time period, to the application process.
E. DO I KNOW WHAT I WANT TO STUDY OVERSEAS AND WHY?
A vital part of any application is the enthusiasm for, and understanding of, a period of study overseas. This is true whether you are applying as a graduating senior or as an advanced graduate student. The core of an IIE Fulbright application is the argument that you make for the importance and significance of your academic study overseas. While it is true that the Fulbright does consider other aspects of an application, these do not take priority over academic goals.
F. IS MY ACADEMIC RECORD STRONG ENOUGH?
The Fulbright Awards are academically competitive although there is no minimum grade point requirement. However, in addition to a strong academic record, your project proposal must be organized and well-presented. Also, you should have strong support for your project from your faculty recommenders.
G. DO I COME ACROSS AS SOMEONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN THINGS OUTSIDE OF THE ACADEMIC AREA?
The Fulbright does look for evidence of non-academic interests and pursuits. Your extracurricular involvement and achievements can be in any area (e.g., volunteer activities, student organizations, work, sports), but they should be aspects of your life that mean a lot to you and which you are comfortable writing and talking about.
H. DO I KNOW SEVERAL FACULTY MEMBERS WELL ENOUGH TO ASK FOR THE NUMBER OF REFERENCES (AND ADVICE ON ESSAYS AND PROGRAMS OF STUDY) REQUIRED?
The Fulbright requires three academic references and, where appropriate, a language evaluation. These references should be from those who have known you in an academic setting; who can comment on your other characteristics and suitability for study abroad, and who can speak to your ability to complete the proposed study. It has been our experience that students who are successful in these competitions receive very detailed references from faculty. References should provide the selection committee with an in-depth evaluation of a student based on a close and often long term relationship. References from faculty who have taught you in one large class often do not convey the kind of information a selection committee needs.
I. DO I TAKE ADVICE WELL?
The Fulbright competition is one that involves many people giving you advice, much of it based on their own experiences. Advice may be minimal and specific. It might take the form of a suggestion that you re-write your whole essay. It might involve a very tough campus interview and follow-up advice. It is our experience that very few winners of these awards were successful without listening to, and benefiting from, advice.
J. AM I SOMEONE WHO IS ABLE TO MOVE FROM THE "MICRO" OF MY COLLEGE WORK TO THE "MACRO"OF WORLD EVENTS BY DRAWING COMPARISONS?
One of the things that we have noticed is that a number of very qualified applicants have had difficult interviews because they have not been able to move from the specifics of their academic/personal interests to more national or worldly considerations. For example, if you are a student who is somehow involved in medical research, can you discuss the need for a national health care system?
K. DO I DEFEND AND ARTICULATE MY VIEWS WELL?
We have never noticed any trends for "right" or "wrong" opinions in the campus interviews. We have, however, seen many examples where committees have strongly questioned applicants on their views or intentions. For instance, if you are interested in studying a potentially sensitive subject in Country X, your interview committee may question you on this aspect of your application. You should be ready to defend and articulate any decisions you have made or avenues you hope to pursue. Keep in mind: Your aim is not to please a committee, but to gain its respect.
L. DOES MY INTEREST IN THE CHOSEN COUNTRY EXTEND BEYOND MY SPECIFIC AREA OF RESEARCH?
One of the features of the Fulbright program that distinguishes it from many other funding sources is its emphasis on the importance of cross-cultural understanding. To that end, candidates should be knowledgeable about and interested in the host country beyond the academic research/creative project.