5 Tips for Securing a Fellowship

Graduate school can be very expensive (please see: Cheapest Online Colleges for Master’s Degrees) , especially since graduate credits typically cost more per course than undergraduate credits. To help defray some of these costs, many graduate students look for scholarships and fellowships. Whereas scholarships typically are earned and maintained based on academic achievement, fellowships are generally given as grants with the expectation of classroom work or an internship done in reciprocation. Securing a fellowship can be very helpful financially for graduate students, and there are a few ways to make acceptance more likely.

1. Set Clear Goals

Before applying for a fellowship, potential candidates should be aware of the many different types of funding available. There are fellowships for tuition, teaching assistantships, research grants, dissertation fellowships and even summer fellowships for extra study. Understanding the most desirable funding will help applicants find the right type of fellowship to apply for and have the most overall success. Rather than simply casting a wide net and hoping to catch any kind of fellowship, application committees will see a driven individual that has focused on a particular route of achievement, and that is more attractive when they are presenting monetary awards.

2. Gather Resources and Get Organized

There is a wealth of information about fellowships available online through databases and keyword searches. Utilizing these options, in addition to on-campus resources such as career centers and graduate schools, will help successful candidates locate the best fellowships. Professional organizations, friends and family and even colleagues and mentors may be able to suggest fellowship options as well. With so many different sources of potential information, it is important for serious candidates to stay organized, either with hard copy submissions of paperwork or online through digital folders. Submitting the wrong application or paperwork to a fellowship will not make a very good impression.

3. Make a Plan for Submissions

Applicants should never go into a fellowship application process blindly. Thorough research about eligibility, deadlines and what to include in an application are necessary in order for a candidate to be truly competitive. In addition, these tasks should not be completed overnight. Successful applicants tackle each aspect of the fellowship application on time and in reasonably sized pieces to keep their work of the highest quality. By breaking down the necessary tasks, the application process will be completed the most accurately and professionally.

4. Stand Out from Other Applicants

Whereas many candidates write their application essays using answers they think the selection committees hope to read, the better plan of attack is to use personal information that makes the individual stand out in a good way. A personal statement, portfolio or essay is the perfect time to reveal interests and notable background information that is different than other applicants. Likewise, choosing excellent recommendations from people who are knowledgeable, professional and interesting will make the most impact in an application.

5. Be Passionate and Accurate in the Application and Interview

When an applicant is passionate about a particular subject or area of teaching, it will show up in the application materials. In addition, applications that are free from spelling or grammar mistakes and that are complete and on time are most often rewarded with acceptance. Some paperwork will lead to an in-person interview that should be professional and polished. Hard work, related experiences and responsibility are essential elements of a successful candidate, but including passion for the subject will be memorable for a selection committee.

Earning a fellowship could be the difference between years of debt and a graduate education with very little cost. By following these basic tips for creating a competitive application, candidates are more likely to be successful in securing a fellowship.