By Deborah Vieyra
In one of life’s great synchronicities, just as the leaves start falling off the trees and your sweaters start flirting with you, it’s time to head indoors and start working on your fellowship applications. (For our readers in the Southern Hemisphere — my apologies. You may have to spend a few sunny hours attached to your screens.)
October is the perfect time of year to kick off your fellowship search. It will allow you a sufficient amount of time to do adequate research so that you feel fully prepared as you move forward with your application process.
Let’s take you through why, depending on where you live, October is the best time to spring into action, or fall into line. (My apologies again to anyone with a pun allergy.) Here are 3 reasons you should start your search for fellowships in October.
#1 It’s almost fellowship application season
Many fellowship deadlines fall between October and January. By starting in now, you give yourself enough leeway to cast your research net widely before you need to zone in on your choices. It gives you enough time to not only scour ProFellow’s free fellowships database, but also to get advice from the right people on which opportunities are the best for your goals. If you are looking for fellowships to fund graduate school, starting your search in October will allow you to reach out to the faculties that pique your interest to see if they will be a good fit for you. Don’t underestimate how much time the search alone may take you! ProFellow has more than 1,000 funding opportunities listed, so believe it or not, you might find too many interesting fellowships! You may need to narrow down your list to the ones that are the best fit.
#2 You’ll have more time to apply
The more time you can spend constructing your application, the closer you will get to putting the best version of yourself forward. The last thing you want to do is rush through your personal statement the week before the deadline, or scramble to secure reference letters at the last minute. It may also take some time to gather copies of academic transcripts and other official documents. To avoid deadline-induced panic, it is imperative that you structure your time wisely. By starting in October, you can navigate the process slowly and methodically. You can also take advantage of the holiday breaks when, away from the pressures of school and work, you can spend some quiet time on your application components.
#3 You can identify alternatives to your dream fellowship
It’s always a good idea to make sure that you have more than one basket to put your eggs into. By starting to work on your application early, you will be able to find all the options available to you. Applying to more than one fellowship does not require starting from scratch each time. Much of the material that you create for one application may be applicable to another. While it’s important to ensure that you tailor your application according to the specific requirements of each fellowship, you can certainly repurpose some of your application components, such as your resume. If you plan well, you can also streamline the administrative side of your application. Ask the same referees for multiple letters at once. Request enough copies of your transcript. Who knows — your second choice may land up being more suitable to you than your first.
Happy application season!
Deborah Vieyra is a Fulbright alumna from South Africa who completed her MA in Applied Theatre Arts at the University of Southern California. She now works as a writer, proofreader and performer in Vancouver, Canada.
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