The Application: Part II
- Start Early. Even after all the time you’ve spent thinking about your project, the application will seem overwhelming. Know that the application itself is best approached a little bit at a time. The application includes background information about yourself, your school, and your project. If your CV is up to date, you’ll be able to easily transfer dates and specifics into the application. Always think about connecting your experiences to your project. The more cohesive the entire application is, the better!
- Gather Supplemental Materials. Pay careful attention to portions of the application that require action from someone else. For example, the background information about your school may require you to get demographic information from an administrator, so request that as soon as you can. Likewise, request pre-approval from your administration early. Also think about requesting transcripts (undergraduate and graduate level) from your university if you don’t already have them. If you need to apply for a passport, doing so early in the application process makes sense.
- Request Letters of Recommendation Early! The application requires three letters of recommendation, one from your direct supervisor plus two additional individuals. In my experience, I tried to include professionals that could speak to different aspects of my experience and expertise. In my case, I chose a former supervisor that presently works in a different district and a mentor/former colleague who left to pursue a PhD and is now a professor. When requesting my letters, I provided each individual with a brief overview of the Fulbright program including the attributes they seek in participants as well as a brief overview of my inquiry project plan. By doing so, the writer could connect what they knew of my professional experiences with what I intended to do.
- Utilize any instructional materials provided by the IIE. The Institute of International Education (IIE) serves as the administrator for the Fulbright program. Before writing up plans for your inquiry project, check any resources provided by IIE. It gives you a clearer picture of how to write an application that connects all the pieces that are considered in a successful application. At the Fulbright Distinguished Awards in Teaching webpage, you can review sample applications, view short webinars with tips for completing the application, and read past Fulbrighters blogs.
- Determine what places are most appropriate for your inquiry project. A successful application is equal parts passion for your topic, a well crafted proposal, and a project that is feasible based on your proposed location of study. As a part of the application, you will rank your choice of participating countries to complete your project. It only makes sense to select a location that has access to what you’d like to study. Look for universities with programs that specialize in your area of interest and look for researchers or professors studying similar topics. A supplemental section of the application allows you to include suggestions for specific universities and programs that would fit your project. Also consider that it’s important to have a topic that requires study outside of the USA. The program is making an investment in you and wants to see you bring back information that will be beneficial to your teaching practices when you return.
- Pay attention to the details. As with any professional work, details matter. Make sure your application is complete and accurate, and proofread! Do the work to look for research supporting your interests, as it will make your inquiry project proposal stronger. Have colleagues review your work and offer feedback. As an aside, I made the mistake of working on my application in Word, and overlooked the fact that each section has a character limit, not a word limit. After carefully writing my application, I was in for quite a surprise when I attempted to copy and paste my responses into the web based application. It was a challenge to rewrite my responses to meet the character limit.