3 Myths Debunked, 4 Reasons to Apply, and 3 Tips to Get Started
by Erika Murphy
First, what is it? The Fulbright Award is a scholarship that could help you attend graduate school, conduct research, or teach abroad. There are the most awards for teaching abroad.
The award is known to be highly competitive – so high that many students don’t even bother applying. But, the University of Portland Office of Fellowships & Grants recently held a meeting to dispel the myths that intimidate so many. Here are the highlights:
One. You don’t need to know other languages. There are plenty of awards in English-speaking places, like the U.K. or Canada, or right here in the U.S.
Two. You don’t need that 4.0 that seemed so much more attainable in high school. Fulbright committees get it: Time as an undergraduate is about more than acing exams. All of the experiences you’ve had on the bluff interest them more than grades.
Three. The application won’t take as long as you think. Michele Leasor and Dr. John Orr, in the Office of Fellowships & Grants, offer support from beginning to end, from brainstorming which type of award to apply for, to giving feedback on the essays. In a couple of months, the application will be out of your hands.
Here’s why you should entertain the possibility of applying:
One. When else could you get paid to travel? Imagine yourself researching sex trafficking in Cambodia or native plant species in India. Envision returning to Granada, Salzburg, or any place you’ve studied abroad, to teach English.
Two. It looks great on a resume. The reputation of the award opens doors.
Three. There are additional scholarships that align with the Fulbright, so you can use the same material for other applications, such as the Gates, Marshall, or Rhodes scholarships. There are also countless teaching programs. Once you decide where you want to go, you’ll find a program to get you there, whether Fulbright or not.
Four. Reflection throughout the application process provides clarity on what sort of future you want. Through discernment, you’ll gain a better sense of who you are and where you’re going.
Convinced? Now, a few tips to get you started:
One. Do research on all of the award types to find the best fit. Your motivation and your application will be stronger once you know the details.
Two. Be forward-looking. Present your interest in the award as deeper than mere interest. Prove that you are on a trajectory: “Here I am at UP now and in ten years I’ll be doing amazing things; the Fulbright will get me there by…” Explain why they’ll get something fabulous from you.
Three. Network. If you decide to apply for a graduate program, make contact with people at the university – and the earlier, the better. Think about who might provide three strong letters of recommendation from here at home as well.
Now I’m no saleswoman, but I just hate to see people believe in the ‘unattainable.’ You can achieve whatever you can envision and now’s the time to begin cultivating the life you want.
A few minutes of exploration could change the course of your entire life:
- Fulbright Homepage: http://us.fulbrightonline.org/#&panel1-1
- Office of Fellowships and Grants: http://www.up.edu/fellowships/default.aspx?cid=9057&pid=4069