By Aarti Chellakere, Assistant Director of Post-Graduate Planning
Sweden, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, Netherlands, Germany and Costa Rica. This list of countries might not mean much right now, but three weeks ago they were all I could think of. At this moment the Fulbright Commission is probably sorting through hundreds of applications from college seniors all over the country. As for Olin, this year was our biggest group of applicants ever - seven! We even had two alumni in the Fulbright applicant pool!
The internal Fulbright kick-off session was six months ago in April and the official deadline was in mid-October. The application process is not for the faint of heart - it's time-consuming and requires discipline. The students were advised early on in the process that working on a Fulbright application was like taking a full-time course! The students were determined and worked on their applications over the summer from wherever they were - biking across the northeast, travelling around Europe, conducting research off campus, working full time and taking a full course load of graduate classes.
Once the students submit their application in October, it's a waiting game. The applicants hear back from Fulbright only around the end of January when they are notified if they have made it to the final round or not. The final selection notification can be anytime between early March to late May, depending on the country. From mid-October until the final results are announced, the majority of students either apply to graduate schools or full time jobs. However, rather than focusing on the outcome it is important to take a step back and focus on the scholar in the scholarship process.
Many candidates have found that going through the Fulbright application process is a journey in self-discovery. Our alumna applicant from the class of 2010 described the process this way, "The Fulbright application process was a great learning experience for me. Developing a project proposal that I was truly passionate about and writing about myself in the personal essay required a lot of soul searching that I don't always stop and take the time for on a daily basis. It was really good for me! My advice to anyone thinking about applying is to start as early as possible! I didn't realize how much work the application would be until I really started diving into it!"
What is it like to win a Fulbright Scholarship? Read about Steven Zhang '12 - both his application process and the experience itself - and Becky Belisle '10 as they describe their Fulbright experiences in past PGP posts.
Finally, I wish the Olin Fulbright applicants of 2013 the very best and I look forward to meeting the Fulbright hopefuls of 2014 next spring!