Fellows Know Best: Our Top 5 Fulbright Application Tips From Former Fulbright Winners

Sep 17, 2013

The people with the best application tips are the former fellows themselves. Here are our top five Fulbright application tips from our interviews with Fulbright winners.

#1: Show them you’re “the one”: “Every sentence in your personal statement should reaffirm the fact that you are the best choice for the fellowship. It has to seem like the universe has conspired for your entire life to build to this moment. This means that you have to support your applications with examples of how you have spent years preparing for your proposed project.” Read tips by Sean P’Connor, Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) to Sri Lanka.

#2: It’s about passion, not perfection: “Prospective applicants should demonstrate, in their applications and interviews, their passion for the field they are looking to gain further knowledge in. Many students in Pakistan think that you need to have excellent academic credentials in order to be eligible for the Fulbright program, which is not true. Your academics definitely are a factor, but in my view the Fulbright committee is more concerned about how passionate you are about your work.” Read tips by Abrash Pervaiz, Fulbright Scholar to the U.S. from Pakistan.

#3: Don’t pick just any topic – meet needs: “A Fulbright application differs greatly from country to country, and when selecting your destination and research topic, you should be aware of what the particular selected country/region has a demand for. You can do this by researching the US Embassy funded programs and by keeping yourself abreast of current international issues. This is not to say that if you choose something that does not fall under the “necessary” category, you will not be picked. Just keep in mind that the Public Affairs section of the US Embassy does the final selection.” Read tips by Hillary Evans, Fulbright Scholar to Tajikistan.

#4: Apply to be an ambassador: “Each country has its own committee with its own priorities and preferences. Here, what matters isn’t the brand name of your school or a rigorous coursework that has placed you on a certain career trajectory. Significant amounts of demonstrated interest, beyond having done your basic research, isn’t even required. Rather, what matters most is your ability to articulate how you will make an exemplary U.S. ambassador and strengthen bilateral ties.” Read tips from Mark Pan, Fulbright ETA to Malaysia.

#5: Name drop: “I contacted relevant legal reform groups in Kosovo – individuals that previously worked in Kosovo legal reform, as well as individuals that had done similar Fulbright research in other Balkan countries.  Speaking with these people allowed me to better assess what my research proposal would look like and provided credibility to my own project. In essence, I presumed that the more connections I could show to the region in my area of research, the more likely I was to hit the ground running.” Read tips from Jason Tashea, Fulbright Scholar to Kosovo.

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© Victoria Johnson 2013, all rights reserved