Series Note: We have previously published a number of posts on the Fulbright competition on the GradFund blog, all of which offer useful tips and suggestions to help you craft a strong application. In light of the upcoming application period (our on-campus deadline this year is September 1), we have compiled this roundup post series, which will provide you with our best advice on how to put together the most competitive Fulbright application possible. The following post is the second installment in the Tips for Success in the Fulbright Competition series. Click here to read Part One.
GradFund’s Advice on Preparing a Competitive Fulbright Application
The posts below address three common questions that are often asked by potential Fulbright applicants: 1) How do I start working on my application? 2) What happens if my project is controversial? and 3) How do I make my application more competitive?
In this post, Dean Delcorso-Ellmann offers suggestions to get started on a Fulbright application. The first tip she has for students is to start familiarizing themselves with the award types offered as part of the Fulbright. While there are multiple awards to support research, study, or teaching abroad, students can only apply for one award. In deciding on which award to pick, Dean Delcorso-Ellmann suggests applicants think about their short and long term goals, educational and professional, to make a compelling case for their choice when writing their application narratives. The post also offers a crucial piece of advice that applicants need to take into account to craft competitive applications: Get to know the country in which you are interested in spending time abroad. The reviewers will want you to be able to tell them clearly why you picked a particular country over another and see how you have prepared to undertake your suggested activity abroad.
In this post, Ben offers suggestions on how to deal with a question commonly asked by Fulbright IIE applicants: What if my project is controversial? This question matters for two reasons. First, because Fulbright awardees are considered cultural ambassadors that will represent the United States to their host country during their time overseas. Second, because officials in the host country have a say in the final stage of review. So what can applicants do when their project may stretch the boundaries of cultural sensitivities that applicants are advised to pay attention to while preparing their statements? Ben’s suggestion is one that we often give students at GradFund: Speak to your funder’s goals! Ben suggests that finessing the description of your project (but never lying to or misleading your reviewers!) in a way to reinforce how receiving the award will help you contribute to Fulbright’s mission is one way to tackle a potentially controversial research project.
In this post, Ben offers suggestions on how students can craft competitive applications for the Fulbright IIE. In a nutshell, these are Ben’s tips on producing a strong application: start early, give yourself enough time to revise your application materials, secure strong letters of recommendation and affiliation, provide a compelling narrative as to why you want to be overseas, and show your audience how you will fulfill the role of cultural ambassadorship Fulbright places a strong emphasis on in reviewing applications. Ben also has a great piece of advice that students often overlook in preparing applications: Use your summer to work on multiple drafts! It generally takes a significant amount of time to produce polished applications, so starting to work on your application early on will allow you to build the most competitive case possible for your reviewers.
This was a review of the posts on GradFund’s advice on preparing a competitive Fulbright application. Stay tuned for the third, and final, installment of our series, which will focus on advice from Rutgers graduate students who prepared a Fulbright IIE application. In the meantime, if you are planning to apply for the Fulbright IIE this fall, please fill out our form so that we can add you to our email list to contact you with important updates.