Do you know when you should be planning for your awesome Fulbright adventure ? Not next month, not next spring, and CERTAINLY not next summer… No, you should start planning today.
But the deadline is in September, so what’s the rush?
Experts agree (and by experts, I mean winners) that a good Fulbright application takes more than a few months to prepare. It’s not that the writing is all that much work (although you will need to go through several drafts to be competitive), it’s the affiliations, the planning, and sometimes even the preliminary research to show that your project is worthwhile.
But don’t take my word for it, here’s a Fulbright blogger with his advice:
So how do you get involved in this exciting opportunity? It all starts with the application. Find someone you trust to edit your essays. Tell them you want the most honest and rigorous feedback they can give. It’s important that the proposal retains the quality of your own voice, but an editor can identify where your ideas are too vague, the language too flowery and information repeated.
Second, be willing to write and rewrite the application materials until they are clear, succinct, detailed and convey your passion. For reference, I rewrote my project proposal eight times. The degree of organization and professionalism of your application materials will speak to your ability to undertake the responsibility of teaching or researching in a foreign country.
In terms of the application itself, it’s important to approach the process strategically. At the outset it may seem that you don’t have enough space to convey everything you’d like the review committee to know. Be creative in how you include information. For example, there were a few accomplishments that I couldn’t fit into my project proposal or personal narrative, so I asked my references to discuss those achievements in the letters they were writing.
Smart advice, and there’s more on the Fulbright blog. But you will also want to start working with a fellowships advisor. My Fulbright Fellowship buddies, Kelly (for undergraduates), and Karen (for graduate students) can offer you great advice and help you make contacts with even more helpful people.
You will also want to make contact with your advisor/mentor/faculty that will support your application. These people will not only serve as references, they are essential to helping you plan a project that is feasible within the Fulbright time frame. If you don’t know a person with your area of interest, contact a Fulbright advisor and ask. Interested in teaching English abroad on a Fulbright ETA? Contact a faculty member with expereince in that country (or a Fulbright advisor to find one) and get some starting advice!
THINKING FULBRIGHT? START TODAY!