Registering to Apply
Apply for a Fulbright and watch yourself
GROW IN MULTIPLE WAYS
through the process.
THERE are two main types of Fulbrights: Research or Teaching.
Each has its own separate Smith Registration form and Fulbright also has slightly different online application paths for Research or Teaching.
Study the Fulbright Registration Instructions before completing either the Research Registration form or the Teaching Registration form.
Fulbright calls Research fellowships: Full Grants, among other names.
Although Research Fulbrights can be solely for research, they can also be for other projects (such as Study – even for a degree) in addition to, or instead of, or including research.
(But every country's offerings are different, so what each country offers must be understood.)
At Smith we use the word Research because most Fulbrights in this category are for research mainly.
The word “project” means whatever you propose to do for your fellowship, be it research, study, teaching, interning, entrepreneurship, volunteering, etc.
The project is the core of your grant proposal or fellowship application.
If you are undecided whether you want to apply for a Research Fulbright or a Teaching Fulbright, complete one Registration form for each.
Often the Teaching "project" is more accurately called an Assignment and you are indeed assigned to some school to teach English.
Again, if you are undecided and are still weighing options, you may:
List more than one host country within a Registration form.
List more than one idea within a Research Registration form.
Often to begin, students will have a few ideas, countries or directions, and will want to discuss, with the FPA, which route is best – for a number of reasons from various angles.
Such discussions take place before or after a Registration is submitted to the FPA or while it is being completed, whatever the applicant's needs.
Ultimately you may apply to one country only for either Research or Teaching.
In figuring what to do (research, study, teaching, etc.) where (which country), you usually:
1. Either already have a project idea (such as researching, studying or teaching) and need to find a country to do it in, depending on whether you have the necessary host-country language level.
2. Or you have a country or region you want to go to and then have to find or come up with a project to do there.
If you know where you want to go, it is assumed you more or less already have a solid handle on the language.
Language is key because in order to be able to carry out what you propose, you will need the commensurate command of the language by the end of September in your senior year.
But for some projects, such as Teaching or Study, in some countries, no non-English language ability is required.
Every country has different rules depending on what you propose to do there.
On the other hand, making an attempt to learn the dominant host-country language signals that you take a genuine interest in their country from their perspective, that you do not expect them always to have to speak to you in your language in their own country when the opposite should apply as a matter of respect.
While English might be the professional lingua franca among the intelligentsia in the workplace, such as in India or Finland say, even they will often speak in their own mother or native tongue, which is predominantly Hindi or Finnish.
Fulbright wants you, in addition to your project, to reach out into the broader community to engage more diverse people and, the farther you go, the more you will encounter those who do not speak English at a level that allows you to have meaningful conversations and cultural exchange.
There are plenty language-learning resources within the Five Colleges, especially at UMass, as well as self-taught programs such as Rosetta Stone that comes recommended, as does the more versatile
A list of other online language learning resources can be found at the following document:
Online Language Learning Resources
Another avenue to learn a language is through a free exchange such as via
Regardless of what the country guidelines state, Fulbright will require that you have at least a "hospitality" level in the host-country language irrespective of whether you need it for your project.
This means that you must have a Foreign Language Evaluation (FLE) late September and score at least on the bottom rung of ability.
If the language is not taught in the U.S. or near where you live or could go, then you will need to show that you nevertheless made some effort to learn it.
This is where the resources cited above can come in handy.
Maybe you will not be able to score meaningfully on the FLE but you will be able to report your efforts on another form called the Language Background Report that is required for all countries where English is not the first and official language.
Another common scenario (with variations on the theme, such as a desire to connect with ancestral roots) is thus: On junior year abroad, you fall in love with your host country or another country you visit, or get bitten by the travel bug and hunger for more overseas experience.
So say you want to return to France but find your profile does not quite match what Fulbright France seeks in a Fellow.
Now you have to decide: Do I absolutely and only want to return to France and, if the Fulbright won’t get me there, I will have to find another way of returning there?
Or: Is it a Fulbright Fellowship that I aspire to more because this is a program in whose mission I wish to be part (not to mention the benefits flowing from the honor of having been a Fulbright Fellow)?
In which case, another country must be found.
Alternately, you are interested in, say, Teaching English in certain countries because you want to improve your foreign language skills (e.g. Spanish) but, when you measure your “teaching” profile against the competition odds, your chances look slim.
You don’t have the remotest inclination to do research, so do say yourself:
Teaching abroad for a year after graduation is more important to me than improving my Spanish, so I will apply to an easier country.
I really want to master Spanish in a Spanish-speaking country, so if the opportunities Fulbright offers are not suitable, I will find another way.
Smith will encourage you to apply only if we believe you have a decent chance of winning.
Because we value your time (and that which professors generously contribute) we do not lead you up the garden path.
We are invested in your success.
The other key is your background or track record because you need the training, education or experience that will have equipped you with the skills to be able to carry out your proposed project, such as knowing how to conduct research.
How to come up with a project idea?
Here are two ways:
Smith faculty members are the most valuable resource you have on campus, who are here because they like teaching and advising college students.
Studies show that students who consult one-on-one with professors find these to be their most beneficial experiences in college.
Literature searches of a topic concept are, for Research Fulbrights, almost essential to ensure that what you propose has not been done before.
When you review the research that has already been done, you get ideas for research topics you had not thought of.
You see what is missing, the gaps, what more could be covered to extend some research already done, or tackle another angle.
Then you email the Fulbright Commission in the host country to see if they would be receptive to your idea and also to check that it has not already been done by another recent Fulbrighter.
But do not email them until you are completely clear yourself and, with the help of professors, have written a tight description of your research concept.
The Fulbright Commission email addresses are usually found at the end of the country summary on the I.I.E. website and or on the host country's Fulbright website.
The following section also applies to Teaching applicants albeit less directly.
In the end, it amounts to choosing the right country for who you are so that your stay there will be happy and fruitful.
The wisdom of "When in Rome, do as the Romans do" is unavoidable, so if a country is strongly conservative and you are strongly progressive, maybe you are not prepared to bend enough to fit in and be accepted.
In that case, perhaps a more open-minded country accepting of differences would be more suitable, or choosing a more liberal city in that country over a more rural location where conservatism runs high and tolerance low.
Access to medical support services and medications may also be a reason to choose a city above a remote town, besides meeting your particular social needs, and other people like yourself.
There's a delicate balance between remaining who you are and adapting to local customs.
To be a successful diplomat, your own sense of self has to be secure enough that you do not need to project it onto others especially when they might be shocked or offended.
Research topics should not concern your private life or be personal, such as self-identity quests to discover one's roots, because the Fulbright is not about you personally but rather about matters of interest to the host country – and about you representing America diplomatically over there.
Nor should topics be motivated by an agenda to impress your views on the host country or save oppressed people there.
In other words, nothing personal, political, sexual or religious except perhaps historically or other scholarly approach within a recognized discipline of the host country.
It’s not about you but about your host country that you go to learn.
You don’t go to show or tell them.
You go to understand them.
Activism and advocacy are out.
Objective, detached or professional scholarship is in.
We don’t interfere, we observe and record.
We talk to lots and lots of different people, making friends, acquaintances and contacts all over.
We exchange ideas and ideals.
The idea of the Fulbright is for you to go to another country where you get to know their people and they you.
This is not some small minority group or refugees from another country, but the mainstream culture of their country with which they want you to interact.
A developing country is concerned with feeding its people, keeping them healthy and productive, and giving them an education.
The luxuries of developed countries, such as more personalized freedoms of choice, especially as socio-political issues, are not yet on the radar of their hierarchy of needs.
Tune into the host country and understand life from their perspective.
Developing this sensitivity is at the heart of the Fulbright and it begins when choosing a research topic.
If you want a consultation with the FPA, email EST times you can call him in the following few hours and days: he usually works 7 days 9 to 9.
And or submit the beginnings of a Registration, which comprises a tutorial survey form, plus your resume and transcript pasted in.
Your suitability will be assessed from the Registration materials and, if admitted to our Fellowships Program, you will be directed to application support guides and assigned to a faculty mentor who will tutor you regarding your grant proposal.
In the end, it boils down to one simple act of taking the first step and proceeding one step at a time.
Hours, days, weeks, even months can be spent crunching the merits and demerits of applying for a Fulbright when instead concrete answers could have been obtained by simply starting a Registration.
Another factor that stops students who could have applied – and won – is some erroneous assumption that she is not qualified when in fact she was.
One common misconception is that you cannot return to the country where you went for Study Abroad.
Assume you are eligible unless you have ascertained for sure that you are not.
Don’t rely on answers from those who don’t really know for sure, especially about the many nebulous considerations that can cloud clarity.
Do NOT be intimidated or discouraged by the Registration forms.
It is a step-by-step system, an unfolding through which you will learn much about yourself.
It will help you define your goals, even “find yourself,” as many students have reported.
Answer only those questions you can at this stage – which is all about process.
The FPA will keep giving you feedback until you arrive at a concept that is feasible.
All you need to do in the beginning to get started is to take one first step and fill in whatever information you can to show your interest.
Keep answers short especially to begin because they can always be elaborated on later only as need be.
Everything else you need shall be provided as you progress through the stages.
By the time you have drafted a few versions of the Registration, you will already have a solid foundation for your entire Fulbright application.
What you enter on the Registration is NOT set in stone as it is a work-in-progress that can, and quite likely will, be changed as you complete the form and consult the FPA, or changed even after completing your Registration once you find out more about the best direction to take with a project.
Email the FPA your Registration now for feedback on the feasibility of your project concept and the viability of your candidacy.
Or simply your musings as you wonder out aloud . . . in writing: Fingertips to keyboard!
Go to Registration Instructions.