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Fulbright Grant Information Guide
Your Fulbright application requires two essays: a statement of proposed study and a curriculum vitae (personal statement). Your essays are your opportunity to state who you are and what you want to do. Since you will not have any interviews after the campus level, you should put as much time and energy into these essays as possible.
Writing these essays can be a difficult, interesting, and revealing experience. Your final essays should produce a picture of you as a person, a student, a potential scholarship winner, and (looking into the future) as a former scholarship recipient. Needless to say, this is difficult to do in a few pages, and it would be impossible and inappropriate to give you instructions titled "How to Write a Thoughtful and Introspective Essay". It is possible, however, to provide advice on elements which, combined with your research, thoughts, and personality, may produce compelling essays. It is also possible to warn you away from some of the mistakes students make in writing essays.
Think carefully about the approach you should take to each essay - the academic proposal vs. the personal statement - because each will serve a different purpose in your application. Each essay should make a statement about your academic life and plans, as well as your personal goals and beliefs. This statement, regardless of how you combine the following components, should grab the interest of the reader and make him or her want to meet you (even if there's not necessarily an interview process). Be simple and direct, and do your best to strike that difficult balance between modesty and persuasiveness.
In thinking about your essays, be aware of how your year as a Fulbright student relates to your future goals and aspirations both personal and academic. Examine the way in which your proposed course of study will enhance your future plans. It is often difficult, especially for graduating seniors, to identify such goals and plans, but it is important to do so. Keep in mind that the scholarship committees want to give the awards to people who will see the Fulbright as building blocks for their futures. Therefore, it is essential that you have thought through how you see your proposed studies connecting to the overall course of your life. In other words, what you are doing now, what you wish to do as a Fulbright student, and what you will do later must all fit together somehow.
READ past successful Fulbright essays. Included in this handbook are copies of well-written essays by successful Temple Fulbright applicants. These essays will give you an idea of the range of successful proposals submitted in recent years. Be sure that you are reading successful essays corresponding to your academic level (e.g., creative arts applicant, doctoral student).
1) Statement of grant purpose
Whether you are a graduating senior, recent graduate, or a doctoral student, you will want to show that what you wish to study and/or research can best--if not only--be done in the place you wish to go. In addition, you should show how your proposal justifies or necessitates the use of foreign archives or foreign faculty contacts. The further along in your academic career you are, the more certain of these points you will have to be. Keep in mind some other questions that could be asked of your application:
2) General guidelines for writing the statement of grant purpose
Given the above differences, the following are some general guidelines for all applicants to follow with regard to the statement of grant purpose:
This is linked with the need for students (especially graduate students) to have concrete connections overseas. It is possible that the foreign faculty member is well qualified to comment on the plausibility of the applicant's proposal, as s/he is most familiar with the programs and resources of that university. In addition, a personal invitation by a faculty member to study at the institution lends credence to the quality of the candidate and his/her proposal.
If you need to conduct research in government, university or private archives, you should ask yourself the following questions:
You should mention any contacts (or access) you may have in your statement of proposed study even if you have not had a definite response. If you have only identified the person and written to them at the time of your application, mention this and submit a copy of your letter with your application. If you have received a positive response from an overseas faculty member or researcher, you should include a copy of their letter to you in your Fulbright application as a letter of support.
The following question is often asked: "How much detail should go in the academic proposal?" It is often difficult to know what to put in and what to leave out; however, many successful academic proposals will include the following elements:
This is a general outline, but the main idea is to lead your readers in a systematic, logical fashion through the various components of your project. If your readers feel confident in the idea you've presented, the methodology, your qualifications, and your overseas support, you are more likely to win an award. If your statement of proposed study is confusing, raises a lot of questions, and does not inspire confidence in the readers, you're not likely to get very far in the application process.
3) Engagement in the Community
Since the primary aim of the Fulbright program is to further mutual understanding between the people of the United States and other countries, your application should demonstrate a clear commitment to the host country community. Becoming involved in the local community will contribute significantly to this goal and will enhance your experience in many ways. Your application should speak to this point and include some examples of how you might interact with your host community through volunteer and extra-curricular activities.
4) Additional Tips for GRADUATING SENIOR Applicants
Graduating seniors and recent graduates will not be required to continue in the exact fields in which they have received their bachelor's degrees. In other words, it is not necessary for your proposals to be extensions of your honors thesis. It is necessary, however, to propose a course of study for which you are academically prepared. In terms of research, it should be detailed and well thought out and it should make a case as to why a particular university or institution is suitable for your study or research, for example:
These sorts of questions should be answered in detail. It is important -- at all academic levels -- to make a strong case for the institution that you have chosen. If you do not know the answer to these questions, you should start researching foreign universities, research institutes, departments and faculty contacts that are relevant to your proposal. Keep in mind that it is quite feasible, as a graduating senior, to apply for a Fulbright just to take classes at a foreign university in order to further your academic interest. Don't become overly ambitious in what you wish to do. Since graduating seniors do not have the same research experience as graduate students, graduating seniors should rely more heavily on their academic advisors to build feasible proposals and to develop a focus for their research. In addition, graduating seniors should get his/her academic advisor to write a letter of reference, since s/he will be most familiar with the proposal. While the proposal seems to be the most difficult aspect of the Fulbright application for graduating seniors, logistics for the rest of the application are the same for graduating seniors and graduate students. Graduating seniors should explain how the year overseas will prepare them for the "next step", and give a general description of their plans upon return to the U.S.
5) Additional Tips for GRADUATE STUDENT Applicants
The further along you are in your academic career, the more substantive information you will need in order to justify your choice of institution. For instance,
6) personal statement
The Personal Statement is often the most difficult to write. "What do they want to know about me?" "How can I tell them about myself in one page?" The c.v. should not be a reiteration of the data on your application form; rather, it should be an "intellectual biography". This is your opportunity to let your personality come through on paper. The following are some good guidelines for this essay.
7) Mistakes often made by applicants when writing essays:
8) Many readers contribute to good essays!
We cannot overemphasize the importance of having a variety of people read your essays. Readers should be people whose opinions you respect. They also should be people with whom you have already discussed both the scholarship for which you are applying and the course of study you wish to pursue. If you ask people to read your statements out of the context of the award, you are asking for trouble because the selection criteria differs for each award. Ask your advisor, faculty members, classmates, roommates, and friends to read your essay, but explain the essay's context first. Be sure to pick at least one person who is a very good proof reader.
This process can be incredibly rewarding and terribly frustrating. Each time you show your drafts to someone, s/he will suggest changes and you will have to weigh their suggestions against others. It is up to you to decide when you think your essays are ready for submission, but it is important to listen to faculty, staff, and peers as you craft your essays.
9) Feedback on essays from Education Abroad Staff
Denise Connerty is available to critique essays throughout the summer and early fall. Students may submit essays for review by mail, e-mail, fax, or in person. The turnaround time is usually 3-5 working days. Please feel free to make an appointment with Denise Connerty; please be sure to submit your essays 3-5 working days prior to your appointment. The LAST DAY TO SUBMIT ESSAYS FOR REVIEW: SEPTEMBER 21, 2012 (4 PM). Unfortunately, due to the hectic nature of the scholarship season, the Education Abroad staff will not be able to review and critique essays after this date.
10) Feedback on essays from Campus Fulbright Committee
It’s entirely possible that the Campus Committee may make suggestions for strengthening your essay, or they may suggest revisions and then ask to see the revised proposal. If they do, you will have an opportunity to make those revisions before your application is submitted to New York.