How to Apply For Fulbright Scholarship – Tips To Apply To Win
Getting enrolled to study in the USA is a dream for many students in the developing world. The processes involved are hectic and the tuition fee is way out of the reach of many. There are however scholarships to help with this problem, and one of the most common is the Fulbright Scholarship offered to 4000 students every year.
The Fulbright Foreign Student Program enables graduate students, young professionals and artists from abroad to study and conduct research in the United States. The Fulbright Foreign Student Program operates in more than 160 countries worldwide. Approximately 4,000 foreign students receive Fulbright scholarships each year.
The prestigious Fulbright scholarships are awarded by binational Fulbright commissions or US embassies. It is one of the oldest scholarships in the world and has been offered annually since 1946. The grant funds tuition, textbooks, airfare, a living stipend, and health insurance.
In today’s post, we share tips to help you ace the Fulbright scholarship. If you are new to these posts, welcome. We aim for all-round education of young Africans. Consider joining 20000+ others in subscribing to AfterSchoolAfrica on Youtube to continue exploring opportunities and watching videos like this one below:
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Who is the Fulbright Scholarship for?
The Fulbright Scholarship is prestigious and competitive. The big question is what does the board in charge of screening applicants for the Fulbright scholarship want? What is it that they desire to see in an applicant before they consider such a person worthy of receiving the scholarship? Well a Fulbright selection committee wants to know about you. Yes! You.
There are four things the Fulbright selection board looks out to find in applicants.
- First, they want to know about you either as a student, researcher or professional. They want to know about your track record and background. The Fulbright board wants to understand about your ambition and how the scholarship fits into this ambition.
- Secondly, they want to know about you as a person. They want to know why you applied for your course of study and what your work history has been and what projects you are working on.
- Thirdly they want to know about you as a conduit for bilateral collaboration; what long term impact would you have on the Fulbright programme as a whole if you become a beneficiary.
- Finally the fourth thing the Fulbright board wants to know about you is your ambassadorial skills. How would you represent the Fulbright programme, your country and your culture?
There are mechanisms built in the application for you to lay all these out for them and if you fail in this regard you will lose out on the scholarship.
So here are tips you need to know.
1. Choose an appropriate Fulbright scholarship
The Fulbright scholarship is complex as it has various categories. There are Fulbright scholarships available to students, scholars, professionals, teachers and for groups. It is important you determine the category your programme falls under and apply appropriately so that you don’t start so early on the wrong footing. If you are seeking to apply for a scholarship as a Master’s students, you would apply as a student. Under that category apply under the Fulbright Foreign Students Programme. You can find all this information on the Fulbright website.
2. Choose the right country
The competitiveness of getting a Fulbright in each particular country is variable as each host country has its own set of criteria and review process. Look at the country description and see what previous projects have been successful. It is usually easy to see whether your skill set lends well to the country’s particular research goals. Also make sure your language skills are up to par, and if not, whether the Fulbright grant offers language courses.
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3. Your statement of purpose should be compelling
Your statement of purpose declares why you should be an award recipient and why the scholarship board should invest in you. With thousands of applications to go through, it is likely the readers of applications for the scholarship would want to make the work easier. One way they do that is to read your statement of grant purpose. For this reason you cannot afford to take your statement of grant for granted; no pun intended. Your statement of purpose should be short and concise but thorough and appealing. It should answer questions like what the goals of the degree you seek are and how the scholarship could help you achieve these goals.
4. Show your human side with your personal statement
This is one part of the scholarship application where you are allowed to be creative and expressive with words. Don’t waste it on things you already mentioned. Your personal statement should answer the 3W questions; who you are, why you have chosen a course, and university, and what it is that you want to do (project statement). The committee expects you to tell them about your capacity to build longer term collaborations and about skills that you would bring to the Fulbright program. Tell personal stories; let the reader know about your background and motivation. Explain how the scholarship could drastically change your life or how it could make your mum really proud. You should however be concise and stick to at least one page of the number of words specified.
5. Write a good essay
The essay is often touted as the most important part of a scholarship application. It gives the scholarship committee a sense of who you are and what your goals are. The scholarship essay is your chance to make a case for yourself and to show the committee why you deserve to win. It gives you the chance to show your personality and what you’re most proud of in life. Your scholarship application should inform, but your scholarship essay should persuade. Scholarship committees read hundreds, even thousands, of essays. It’s crucial to make your application stand out. The people reading your essay will most likely not be experts in your field. Throwing in academic jargon only people in your field can understand will make their minds wander the minute they read any technical stuff. What you want to write about is your daily life, the broad impact your research will have on the world and most importantly, what you are doing there that you cannot possibly do in your home country.
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6. Your entire application should be coherent
There has to be an interconnection between the various segments of your application. Your entire application should be targeted at proving that you have the capacity of influencing positive social change using skills and knowledge acquired in the US upon return to your home country. Each segment of the application should be in tandem with your overall goal. Even if you are applying for a field different from what you studied in your first degree, you can join professional bodies in the new field or take some short courses to prove knowledge in the new field.
Some final tips;
Write your project statement in layman language. The person reading the statement may not be very versed in your fields and as such may get bored easily. If you are a math student, there is no point writing out formulas to prove a point. The reader may not understand what the project is about. Your personal statement should be personal and powerful. Use it to sell yourself. When getting referees, try and get people who are not from the same discipline as they could end up basically saying the same thing about you. You could get the dean of your faculty as one of your referees. Your second referee could be someone you’ve worked with and maybe someone you’ve collaborated with on a project. Contact the referees early and make sure you are confident about what they will say about you.
Have you benefited from the Fulbright Scholarship program? Feel free to share your experience in the comment section. If you found these tips helpful, share this post. Until next time, YOUR SUCCESS MATTERS!
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