• Start early. Fellowship applications need careful thought, and some will require background research, so allow time to get feedback on your drafts, and to revise accordingly - probably several times. Many fellowships require letters of recommendation from faculty and others too, so be considerate to give them time to write a strong support letter.
  • Start even earlier! Ideally, you will present a consistent pattern of academic and extracurricular activities that fit the fellowship’s purpose. A personal history is not built in one semester. If your interests and goals change along the way, that is fine too; think about how to connect your newfound passion with your previous experiences.
  • Find a coach. Athletes, artists, and others in competitive performance based fields all depend on experienced mentors who provide encouragement, criticism and guidance. Students pursuing major fellowships need similar support. Find someone who can help you explore your strengths and weaknesses, reveal your passions and dreams, and select experiences to help you demonstrate who you are.
  • Cultivate relationships with your recommenders. It takes time and strategic thinking to develop relationships with faculty, staff and others outside the College who will need to write on your behalf. The better these individuals know you and know about your interests the more likely it will be that they can write strong letters of support.
  • Practice speaking on your own behalf. One of the more challenging aspects of competing for major awards is the need to be your own best spokesperson. Keep a journal of activities, accomplishments and leadership experiences so that you have concrete examples to use when describing who you are and what you have done. Listen to how other people talk about themselves. What seems like bragging? What seems effective?
  • Draft your personal statement. A personal statement is central to many fellowship applications. For some it is virtually all you will submit. The first draft is the hardest, so start now. Note overlapping opportunities. Several different fellowships may match your goals and experience. Do the research to find out, and build on the work you’ve already done.
  • Stay in touch. Watch for fellowships announcements in the Daily Piper, on bulletin boards, and in your e-mail. Attend information sessions and workshops that are offered by Academic Programs, Career Development and your major department.