Benefits From Applying
Letters from Non-Selected Applicants
Feedback from applicants who, although not awarded, still felt rewarded:
- Letter 1
Dear Mr. Andrew,
Thank you for your help and patience during the Fulbright application process. Now that everything is in, I can appreciate the experience. I not only discovered the links among my diverse interests, but learned to articulate them.
- Letter 2
Thank you very much for making the Fulbright application process at Smith possible. I really appreciated your guidance and suggestions during my application process. Regardless of the outcome, I learned a lot of really valuable skills and I am very glad to have been a participant. Thank you very much!
Very sincerely, XXX
- Letter 3
Hello! Well, I didn't get the XXXfellowship, but in thinking about it, I feel very positive about the whole experience. We knew from the beginning that given my interests, it (and the ZZZfellowship) were a bit of a long shot. I think the committee made the right decision in not choosing me. It's not because I don't think I'm a good scholar or an accomplished student, but because I know that I'm not exactly a XXXfellowship / ZZZfellowship type person.
If I were, I wouldn't have the same strengths that make me good and special in my own right. In knowing how much I love scholarship and teaching, I would rather have the qualities that make me – a sensitivity to nuance in people and texts – than qualities that might make me the ideal XXX scholar. And I think that having this type of self-knowledge – and being content with my strengths and not trying to compete or compare myself with people with different interests and strengths – will probably be more valuable to me in the long run instead of any sort of extrinsic reward.
I also recognize that given the current political situation, it makes more sense to back future statesmen or people with a more civic/international interest than someone who wants to study the poetry of dead white men. I still believe poetry is important, and if anything, this experience has made me analyze why it is. Again, to have that self-knowledge will make me a better teacher and scholar in the long run than winning a scholarship. I still have a great deal to learn and much room to mature, and the XXX interview was just one part of the larger process.
I had a lot of fun applying and I definitely learned a lot about myself. The way I look at it, you have to try a bunch of things to figure out what you want. If I hadn't applied, I would have always wondered what might have happened if I had. Now I never have to worry, and moreover, I'm happy and excited about the direction my life is going. I know what I want, and now I'm free to embrace who I am and the life I want without holding myself to other standards of success. After initially feeling disappointed, I now feel liberated, and I'm happy.
I hope you have a great weekend.
Take care, XXX
- Letter 4
Dear Mr. Andrew,
I just wanted to say thanks again for all your help in the Fulbright application process. I'm very happy to have been named an alternate, but I'm equally happy — regardless of that – to have had the experience of applying for a grant, particularly with the assistance and supervision of the Smith Fellowships Office. The application process ended up being longer and more demanding than I ever could have imagined at the outset of the competition (!), but I'm very glad I was made to work as hard as I did. I learned so much from the process (about the necessary steps: doing loads of research, talking with professors/specialists in the field, making contacts in a foreign country, writing and rewriting and rewriting a proposal, etc.) – and the application I ended up with was completely different, and far better, than the one I'd originally written.
So thank you for providing us with the experience of this process (with all its many steps and deadlines), and thanks, too, for your constructive criticism and support.
Again, I'll soon start at NYU in the M.A. Performance Studies program at the Tisch School. Should I be named a fellow in the 2003-2004 competition, I will be able to take a leave from Tisch to pursue that. Later this summer, I'll work to further improve my application, in order to resubmit it in the 2004-2005 competition.
I hope you have a wonderful summer, and I'm sure Ill be contacting you again soon!
"Carpe diem" -Unknown
*** "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." -Chinese proverb
*** "Smithies make jolly good fellows" -D. Andrew
- Letter 5
So, negative on the Truman. I received a letter saying that I wasn't awarded the scholarship. I wasn't surprised, though of course I'm a bit disappointed. However, my disappointment is limited to my performance in the interview, and does not extend to my perception of my qualifications. On the contrary, I believe I was more qualified than most of the applicants there, and wasn't intimidated by the other finalists' qualifications. That intensifies the frustration of having made a poor showing at the actual interview.
I didn't do a great job in the interview, but I didn't leave feeling that I wasn't qualified for such a scholarship. So the experience was heartening in that I don't think scholarships like the Marshall (and certainly not the Fulbright) are out of reach.
At any rate, thank you so much for all of your help. I would have liked to have won the scholarship not only for my own studies, but to vindicate in a sense all your efforts and those of others at Smith. Thanks again.
I was very sorry not to see your name on the YYYfellowship list today. So that leaves Cambridge. You were probably our strongest all-round fellowships candidate this year, so I am surprised you have not been luckier, although you did make it to the XXXfellowship finals, an honor in itself worthy of a resume entry. I am not sure what it is why your apps have not caught selectors' eyes more. I do not believe it concerns your extra-murals, nor your academics. Perhaps your area of interest has just not lit enough fires. But I think you know you were perhaps sticking your neck out a bit with a theme that might prove not too popular nor be seen as particularly relevant.
Too bad, oh well. But I've been thinking about it, and it makes sense that I haven't won any of these fellowships. I have all the basic components that would make me a strong candidate: good grades, lots of activities, service, even some neat experiences. But there's nothing that really distinguishes me, no huge, flashy accomplishment that sets me apart. What might distinguish me is my scholarship, and I think my project on Swinburne is original and will be good. But then again, I haven't won any prizes for my papers or published anything. Unless someone on a committee is very, very familiar with late19th/early 20th-century British literature, my distinguishing feature wouldn't stand out or be measurable.
There's also this to consider: I was a finalist for the XXXfellowship but not the others. What was the difference? Well, for the XXXfellowship application I discussed women's education but in the others I only talked about Swinburne and Eliot. I think you are absolutely right that my interests might not seem relevant. Sure, teaching would have a social application, but that's not very specific or unusual, and what I would be teaching isn't exactly going to change the world. I imagine that in the XXXfellowship interview it came out that I was really more excited about an obscure Victorian poet than revolutionizing women's education (or whatever). It might also have seemed weird to a selection committee that I would go to a school like Smith, which is known for political activism, social consciousness and feminism, and still want to study those infamous "dead white men."
Perhaps I could have been more specific about my family background or made more of a particular experience (like being a Senate page or volunteering at the sanctuary in South Dakota), which might have distinguished me. But in that case, one would expect that I would be interested in health care reform, politics or the environment. I am, but not as much as I am in poetry.
So... I'm okay with not winning any fellowships because I know what I want for myself. I'm not flashy or a headline-grabber, but I am good at what I do and I have a lot of strengths. I'm glad I applied for the fellowships because the process ‒ particularly not winning ‒ helped me to recognize what my strengths are. The money would have been nice, but I think that in the long run the self-knowledge will be worth more.
Thank you for supporting me through the process.
Take care, XXX