The Fulbright scholarship is very competitive. Every year, a very limited number of students are selected globally. Being a Fulbright Scholar, I would like to highlight some key points that every applicant needs to consider during their Fulbright application for the year 2024 for the 2025 Cohort. The important points for the Fulbright Scholars are as follows:
Your complete application
Some students only focus on getting higher GRE scores while totally or partially ignoring all the other elements of the application. Let me clarify this: The GRE is not that important for getting a Fulbright scholarship; it is vital for securing admission to top universities, which is, of course, the next step. The first is to get this scholarship, for which a score near 310 is enough. I have also seen candidates with 300 getting selected.
Your CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) is vital in securing this scholarship. Those who have completed their degrees cannot do anything about it, but those who intend to go abroad and have a year or so in hand, please work hard to improve your grades.
Good Recommendation Letters
For this Fulbright scholarship, you need at least three recommendation letters. One main point regarding the recommendation letter is that you should be very careful in your choice of referee. Do not go for the heavy titles with their name; that person need not be a Head of Department or a senior Professor. The most important thing is that he /she should know you better; he should have taught you or mentored you and carried out a research project with you. So he/she can analyze you better, know your strengths and weaknesses, and know how you differ from the rest of the class or batch. This factor is very important. Also, please give your professor at least a month so that they can write a good recommendation letter for you.
The most important part of the application. DO NOT ASK ANYONE ELSE TO WRITE YOUR ESSAYS FOR YOU. Please do not ask anyone to do this; your essays should be original and written by you. TAKE YOUR TIME TO ORGANIZE THE IDEAS.
First, think about what YOU want to do for a couple of hours. Do not go for what you have heard from a friend, or because your Uncle is abroad, so you want to study there, or because your father wants you to choose this specific domain. You cannot win a Fulbright like this. Instead, you have to have a clear path in your head. You should visualize your final destination in your mind and right before your eyes; only then will they support you in your journey. You need to have clear career goals.
Although you can easily find the difference between the two essays online, let me summarize it. The study objective concerns your domain of academia, your intended research topic, why you chose it, how it aligns with your future goals, how it will help your country, what your intentions are after returning to Pakistan, and how Fulbright can help you achieve your dreams. In the personal statement, it’s all about you as a person, what challenges you have faced, your self-analysis- strong and weak points, how you have improved, what you have learned from life, what challenges and difficulties you have faced in your life and how have you overcome that. These are the things that no one else can write for you better than yourself.
Then, write down rough points about your essay on a paper or Word document. Do not think about the sequence; just write in bullet points whatever comes to your mind. After that, elaborate on that in proper sentences. This is your second draft.
Now read what you have written and arrange it. Add or remove as required. This is your third draft. Now, manage all your thoughts in 750 words because that’s the word limit. This is your fourth draft. Again read your essay and rephrase the sentences or arrange the sequence as you feel necessary, this is your fifth draft.
Now, you can send this draft to your friends, mentors, colleagues, or professors for an opinion. I would suggest that you take the opinion of at least three persons and then adjust your essay if necessary.
Sharing my own experience, I didn’t use any pompous language. I wrote in simple English with a very simple sentence structure; no fancy vocabulary was used. Hence, no quotes or fancy vocabulary is needed. All you need is ORIGINALITY, TRUTH, SINCERITY, and DEDICATION.
Apart from these two 750-word essays, a few other short questions are equally important as these essays and can be completed just like these. They also have a word limit, so be clear about those questions and ensure they don’t differ from your essays. For those questions, first make rough drafts and then complete your application. It took me a couple of hours’ correspondence with my sister for only two questions. So yes, think and put a lot of effort into answering. Think about what you want and then find the best way of expressing your thoughts.
Although it is optional, I highly encourage you to put a few days of effort into finding suitable universities and mentioning them in your application. This will show them how serious you are about your future and that you know about the institutions that offer your required field of interest.
Help others, do your best, and leave the rest to God. You will get what is best for you.
Best of luck!
Read on: Fulbright Selection Criteria