Last week, I volunteered to help out with the Fulbright informational table at the International and Area Studies Involvement Fair. Although the ~three hours was quite long, I am so glad I did.
After having gone through Fulbright the "wrong way" (beginning my application very late; changing my entire essay and plan a week before the deadline), I was fully equipped to give everyone who came to our table some solid advice.
First, I gave them the spiel; by the halfway point all their faces were beginning to meld together and I wasn't sure who I had said what to.
Next, though, I gave them what I hoped they couldn't get anywhere else: brutally honest advice from someone who's been there.
- Start researching... yesterday. Fulbright offers so many programs that their website can be extremely overwhelming at first glance. It will take several days just to get your bearings.
- As soon as you choose a program, start sending out emails. Having an affiliate in your host country is either required or highly encouraged, but (surprise!) people don't check their emails. Throw out as many darts as you can, and see what sticks.
- Draft, draft, draft. Don't leave your essays til the last minute. They're pretty much your entire application.
Speaking to students was super inspiring; many of these have already started their research about Fulbright, and some have great project proposals already. It was a really great afternoon, filled with good questions, great conversation, and an overall satisfaction from having helped a few of my peers down the scary but thrilling path that is applying for the Fulbright Scholarship.