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Advice from Former Applicants

Advice from Fulbright Winners

In looking back at my experience for applying to a Fulbright Scholarship, I am most struck by how much my initial thoughts and ideas for my application changed as I began to write my grant proposal.  They say writing is always a process, one that morphs and evolves from its original intention into something greater and more refined. This was very much the case during my application process. By the time of my final submission, I had probably been through 6 to 8 drafts for each of my essays with countless critiques for each of them. At first it can seem a little overwhelming, and to be honest, a bit humbling to watch as essays which I put so much of myself into, were severely edited and changed. However, by about the fourth incarnation, I finally saw why these changes were being made and how it was helping my application to be stronger and more competitive. My advice for future Fulbright applicants is to not be discouraged by the writing process, it is long and at times rather severe, but, it is well worth putting yourself (and your writing) out there as the reward is nothing short of life changing. Perseverance and adaptability are traits that will help not only your application, but any endeavor in which you choose to pursue in life.
 
Brett Tolman  Fulbright grant to Sri Lanka 2010

My advice to future applicants: don’t give up. I started my application much later than I should have and the only reason I was able to complete it on time was because I didn’t allow myself to get discouraged along the way. Even when my first or second affiliation fell through I kept persevering until I got the “yes” I was looking for. The Fulbright advisor is phenomenal, so trust that she will steer you in the right direction.

If at all possible, try to boil down your life into a couple of succinct themes or experiences that have really shaped the way you live your life. This will help determine the tone and direction of your personal statement. And more than anything, re-read and re-write those essays (with the help of literally everyone) until they‚re perfect. Good luck!

Krista Foltz Fulbright Grant to Chile 2011

As for advice, I would say that the most important thing is to find a project that you personally would love the opportunity to pursue. If you love what you are investigating, it will be easier to stay motivated and persuasive throughout the long (very long! Start early!) application process. Find something you love, or a place you love, then during the course of your research add in the specifics that will make it so that this project can only be done by you, in the country you are applying for. Find something unique, but make sure that it is something that you enjoy, not just something you think the judges will like.

Once you have your idea (probably after some brainstorming, researching, rethinking, chatting with professors and your Fulbright advisor, and researching and brainstorming again; start early!), get going. At this point (for me, at the end of my junior year), you have already done most of your background research, and you know the topic well enough to start searching out an affiliate - which can take FOREVER. Remember, you are trying to get someone who has never met you to commit to being an advisor to your year-long project; it may help if you offer to do something for them in return, such as volunteering at their organization, or as a tutor or conversation partner at their university. Talk to people at school and at home about your proposal; you never know who might know someone in your application country, and even if their acquaintance isn't the advisor for you, your friend's friend might know someone who knows someone who can make the phone call that can get your email answered. Don't be afraid to email, email, email a variety of professional people who you don't know (be polite, remember that if they do answer they are doing you a favor, not fulfilling an obligation) and if you don't get an answer from someone you were really hoping to hear from, try calling (very politely, even if you are frustrated).

As you can probably tell, finding an affiliate was the hardest part of my application process! That said, don't let me scare you away; remember that you have a lot of support at Linfield. Thanks to a motivated, supportive, persistent Fulbright advisor and professors who are always willing to help brainstorm, proofread, email contacts, proofread again, and sometimes just listen when you get frustrated, Linfield has an impressive success rate among its Fulbright applicants. And even if in the end you aren't selected for a grant, after applying for a Fulbright, you will have learned a lot about a topic you love and you will also know that you have the ability and the determination to apply for just about anything!

Lilian (Lily) Niland, Fulbright grant to Chile 2010

My name is Marty Bode, and I am Linfield '08 alum and currently a Fulbright Scholar studying aeronautical engineering at the Universität Stuttgart in Germany. Here is some advice that I have for applicants to the Fulbright program:

-Start early. Seriously. The editing process is very extensive and you want to leave yourself as much time as possible. Try to get first drafts done as soon as you can. Also, finding a mentor for research projects isn't usually easy so try to get the ball rolling with that. Ask professors for suggestions and look up the authors of journal articles or books that interest you.

-Make a list of any of your experiences you can think of that might relate to the grant you are applying for. Even if they do not directly relate, you may be able to tie them in as evidence that you are prepared for and/or are truly intersted in the research or teaching you want to do. No matter how small they might seem, you might be able to pull some of them together.

-Be sure to address why you need to go where you are proposing to go. Whether it be the mentor you want to work with, the research facilities, or the city itself, I think it is very important that this comes out in an application.

-Have as many people as possible look at your essays. Different people will have different ideas about improvements that can be made and that will give you more options. Of course, people sometimes have conflicting ideas and so you won't be able to use all of them, but ultimately it is your application.

-Be aware how much time you will need for the application process. Expect to put in about as much time as you would for a three credit class.

Good luck!

Marty Bode a Fulbright Scholar at the Universität Stuttgart

Be inspired and passionate about your proposal. Craft it as a 'next step' that builds on skills and experience you gained at Linfield, and will connect you to later endeavors in graduate school, policy work, or the like. Edit the entire package

Consider taking a class in your Junior spring or Senior fall that will help you deepen your understanding of what you plan to research. In any case, learn everything you can about your topic. Know more about your topic than simply what you put in the proposal. Your understanding and expertise will show.

Understand that just the process of applying will be beneficial. It will focus your thoughts and help you envision the future, and make all your later applications (for grad school and jobs) feel simple. Take the risk of pouring yourself into it. Want it, but know that if it doesn't work out thistime, you are still a success. Thinking about your expectations from the judges can make you choke on anxiety and lose your vision. Writing inspired proposals comes much more gracefully and easily if you can genuinely release expectations of the fruits of your work. Find ways to let this process be an end in itself: do your best work, and do it early!

Angela Jamison Fulbright grant to Nicaragua 1999

I think that the most important element in your application has to be your passion. You have to really believe in who you are and what it is you want to accomplish. There are two reasons for this. One is that the application process for competitive scholarships is really intense and kind of heinous while you are actually doing them. If you are focused on what you want to accomplish and can keep excited about your chances it will make the whole process a lot easier. Two is that if you are really passionate about your project or area of study that can't help but come through in your application. I suggest thinking long and hard at the beginning of the application process about what is really important to you academically, professionally and personally. You may even want to write these goals down to refer to when the going gets tough. Even if you don't end up getting the scholarship you will have had an application process that will help you in your future endeavors.

Rachyl Stupor Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to Chile 2007

Try. Don't be shy about asking for help and advice. It's an especially good idea to ask people to read and critique your writing sample or personal statement.

Melissa Koosman Fulbright grant to Austria 2001

In my case, I knew that I wanted to apply for the Fulbright teaching assistantship but needed to come up with a project to do while I was in Uruguay. I had a lot of ideas of things I could possibly do, but nothing really seemed to fit perfectly with my goals, training, and skills. Finally my advisor told me to picture myself in Uruguay, and asked simply what I would like to spend my time doing, regardless of it being a good project. For me the answer was just listening to people's stories and talking to them about their lives and experiences. From that we built my oral history project. So I guess my advice is to just make sure that your project is really something that you love. You will spend a ton of time thinking about it, writing about it, and convincing others that you should be given the money to do it, and it is a lot easier if you really love the project yourself.

And of course, start early and send your drafts to bounce ideas off of as many people as possible! Linfield professors and advisors are so willing to help; take advantage of your resources!!!!!

That's all! Good luck!!!!

Holly Brause Fulbright Teaching Assistantship to Uruguay 2007

Advice from Udall Winners

Advice to Udall applicants: My first piece of advice would be to get involved with some sort of campus sustainability project or initiative, and then once you're comfortable take on some sort of leadership role.  These actions are not only great learning experiences, but are also some of the experiences that the Udall Foundation is looking for.  As far as the application goes, get an early start on it, make sure your passion is evident in your writing, and ask numerous people to edit it for you.  Also, don't settle for just two drafts.  Go over your writing with an editor until you can't even stand it anymore!!

David Kellner-Rode, Udall Scholarship Winner 2010

Advice from Boren Winners

Advice to Boren applicants: First, don't let the service requirement scare you away! It's opened a lot of awesome career possibilities I'd never dreamed of before, and offers the security of finding a job after I graduate. Second, get started on the application early. I worked on mine for six weeks, and it paid off! During the process, be prepared to revise the two statements you will write many times and have someone with good editing skills proof-read. Take advantage of the scholarships advisor's advice, constructive criticism, and much-needed encouragement. Third, relate your language study in your host country to U.S. national security. A great way to start is to find an issue you're passionate about in the country in which you're studying abroad -- it could be a political, social, cultural, or environmental concern -- and write about how the issue affects national security and how your language study will enable you to contribute to the resolution of the issue in some way. Most importantly, be yourself and show the reviewers your unique passion for your host country and its language. I won't lie, this scholarship isn't easy to apply for or to win, but it's an amazing opportunity, and I think our language programs that require majors to spend a year abroad do give Linfield students a bit of an advantage.

Leah Sedy, Boren Scholarship Winner 2010