Fulbright Application Guide 2023-2024
Fulbright is a very competitive scholarship and a very limited number of students are selected every year 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 2023 for the 2024 Cohort. The important points for the Fulbright Application are as follows:
YOUR APPLICATION AS A WHOLE IS IMPORTANT:
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, GRE is not that much important for getting 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 for a scholarship.
CGPA IS CRUCIAL FOR THIS SCHOLARSHIP:
In my opinion, your CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) plays a vital role in securing this scholarship. Those who have completed their degrees cannot do anything about it of course, 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, carried out a research project with you. So he/she can analyze you in a better way, know your strengths and weaknesses, 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, take a couple of hours to think about what YOU want to do. Do not go for what you have listened from a friend, or because your Uncle is abroad so you want to go study there, or because your father wants you to choose this specific domain. Fulbright cannot be won on this basis. 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 they will support you in your journey. Your dreams should be crystal clear and research objectives aligned with your career goals.
Although you can find the difference between two essays easily on the internet, still let me sum up for you. The study objective is all about 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 and 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 have you faced, your self-analysis- strong and weak points, how have you improved, what have you learned from life, what challenges and difficulties have you 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 piece of paper or word document. Do not think about the sequence, just write in bullet points whatever comes to your mind. After that elaborate 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 any of your friends, mentors, colleagues, or professors for an opinion. I would suggest that you should take the opinion of at least three persons and then adjust your essay if you feel the need for it.
Sharing my own experience, I didn’t use any pompous language. I wrote in very simple English with a very simple sentence structure, no fancy vocabulary was used. Hence no quotes or fancy vocabulary is needed for acceptance. All you need is ORIGINALITY, TRUTH, SINCERITY, and DEDICATION.
Apart from these two 750 word essays, there are a few other short questions that are equally important as these essays and also be completed just like these. They also have a word limit, so be clear about those questions too and make sure those don’t differ from your essays. For those questions too first make rough drafts and then complete your application. It took me a couple of hours’ correspondence with my sister for only two of those questions. So yes, think and put a lot of effort while answering. Think about what you want and then find the best way of expressing your thoughts.
Although it is optional, I will 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 you know about the institutions which offer your required field of interest.
In the end, be pure, help others, do your best and leave the rest to Allah. IA you will get what is best for you.
Best of luck!