It’s that time of year…
Pumpkin spice lattes, cozy knit sweaters, bonfires, and Halloween right around the corner.
But….it’s also scholarship/fellowship/grant application time! Though the Fulbright deadline was this past weekend, there are still other programs that are open. Maybe you have an application you’re working on, too!
If you’re a junior, then you may want to check into programs such as the Peace Corps, the Fulbright, and the Boren Award, as these are typically programs for after graduation. Check out the links at the end for more information about deadlines and what to prepare.
Over the past few months, I’ve settled on a research area and developed a proposal, finishing up this past weekend with all my final drafts. I’ve gone through probably a dozen twenty drafts of my statement of grant purpose and a generous handful of twelve drafts of my personal statement. I’d like to share with you a few things I’ve learned that may help you in these types of required writing.
What’s the first thing you should do?
- Read! Read all the information you can find about the scholarship, what you will be doing, and what you need to provide. You’d be surprised at how many times I had to read and re-read my Fulbright instructions to capture the multitude of requirements for each of the documents they need. Read carefully, take notes, and you’ll be in a great place to start writing.
- Next, if you have all (or even most) of the information you need to start composing your writing, jump on in. Start with a rough draft, aiming really only for getting your ideas on paper–you will go through countless revisions and drafts and change so much that you’ll really want to try not to think that your first draft will be close to perfect.
- Work on a lot of drafts, and ask your professors, if they’re writing recommendations, to review your documents with you. Come see us at the Writing Center, too! We’re here to help you through the entire writing process, even and especially for scholarship/fellowship/grant applications.
- Continue working and revising until you are completely satisfied with what you’ve written. For me, it felt like the process of writing my personal statement and statement of grant purpose took significantly more time than my average paper to complete. Plan to have enough time to work on it in between classes, in the evenings, on the weekends–whenever you can take thirty minutes, an hour, or some amount of time to review and revise.
Which reminds me…
- Make sure you check and double-check and triple-check your page lengths/word counts! The Fulbright requires a personal statement of one page and a statement of grant purpose under two pages. Likewise, the Boren Award has essay prompts that allow for 800 words or less. This is not a lot of space!
Like we say in the Writing Center, when you start your drafts of these documents, overwrite it first and edit out later.
Remember, when you get stuck trying to figure out how exactly to describe your passion or articulate why you want to study a certain language, you are always welcome in the Writing Center! Utilize the resources you have, ask a lot of questions, and finally:
- Take a deep breath. Relax for a moment. It will all be okay! These applications and all the deadlines are all very stressful, so make sure you keep yourself healthy and do your best to keep your stress levels in check.
We have faith in you!
Happy fall and happy application writing!
Here are links to some of the awards and applications for more information: