August is the season of fellowship applications and I’ve gotten quite a few emails asking about how the Fulbright application process works and requests for any tips that I might have regarding the application. I’ve included most of my advice here, although I’ll address some reoccurring questions in separate posts. It’s also important to know that I specifically applied for the English Teaching Assistantship (ETA) program and thus everything included below pertains specifically to the ETA track of the Fulbright.
The Fulbright is a fairly flexible fellowship. Each country has different requirements and different types of Fulbright grants that they offer (thus making it relatively easy to find something that you are truly passionate about). The Fulbright can generally be broken down into three types: 1) English Teaching Assistantships (ETA) 2) Research 3) Some sort of graduate study. The ETA program funds you to teach in the host country that you applied to; however, what kind of teaching you’ll do and the age level you’ll be teaching at is country dependent. There are also other types of Fulbright grants so if you’re interested in a particular country it’s well worth taking a look to see what kind of fellowships they offer. For example, several countries offer grants that support things like the creation of art, music, and in the case of Italy, cooking.
The Application Process
It’s important to know that you apply to a specific country in your application as well as a specific type of grant (i.e. I didn’t generally apply to Norway or the ETA program I specifically applied to Norway’s ETA program). You can apply to multiple grants within Fulbright, but know that you have to complete a separate application for each grant. Once submitted your application is sent to a national committee, and if the national committee approves your application, your application is then sent to your host country for its appraisal. If your application makes it past the national round I’ve heard that your odds are pretty good. If you make it to country round the country you applied to may contact you regarding additional steps in the application process. For example, Norway asked me to have a three person Skype interview. If you’re curious about the acceptance rates for Fulbright grants the Fulbright program posts them for each country on their website.
The Application Itself
Generally speaking you shouldn’t treat your Fulbright essays like college application essays. You want to craft a story around the reasons why you are a qualified applicant and why you want the Fulbright. One thing to have at the back of your mind is the reasons why you stand out as a candidate. What makes you unique from other candidates? Why should they pick you? Once you have answers to those questions try to incorporate your answers into your application. You should have an actual vision of what you want to achieve and articulate that in your essays.
Furthermore, the Fulbright requires three letters of recommendation and may have a language requirement depending on the country that you apply to. With the ETA program it’s also important to note that you should not voice a preference for either location or institution. Host countries will place you at their discretion and are looking for people who are flexible in their preferences so be openminded both mentally and in your application.