SWAlk About It

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Whether you are applying for a Goldwater, Fulbright, NSF REU, or Critical Language Scholarship, your application essays are one of the few opportunities to show off your personality and make an impression. It may be difficult anticipating what fellowship reviewers look for in applicants. Writing clear and focused responses on your application will make it stand out to reviewers, especially after they have already evaluated hundreds of applicants. Fellowship programs want to sponsor students who confidently express themselves with clarity and support their arguments, and reviewers will perceive these qualities of your writing as extensions of yourself. 

According to New College’s Assistant Director for National Fellowships, Courtney Hughes, there are five steps to successful fellowship applications: 


  1. Evaluate whether or not you fit the fellowship. Do you possess the qualities they are looking for? Are you comfortable with and committed to the requirements of the program? 


  1. Now that you have established that you want to apply for the fellowship, start early; you should start writing at least four weeks in advance, sometimes much more!


  1. Read the application and instructions with care, making notes on deadlines and materials that you may need to request from professors.


  1. Constantly refer to the essay prompts and ensure that you clearly answer them.


  1. Proofread. Have Courtney Hughes, Assistant Director of Off-campus Study and Study Abroad Florence Zamsky, Student Writing Assistants (SWAs), professors and friends give you feedback. Since you do not know the judges reading your essays, having many people proofread them will ensure that your message is clear.


Shameless Plug: Writing Resource Center SWAs are trained in helping students with fellowship writing. It is suggested that you set up at least two conferences with different SWAs to review your essays. The Center for Engagement and Opportunity (CEO) will also be holding fellowship information sessions within the coming months. The first session will be on the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship which provides winners with up to $5000 for study abroad September 24th from 12 to 1pm in the CEO.


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