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             Fulbright Fast Track

FAQs on the Smith College Fulbright Program

Updated 7/7/14

1. What is a Fulbright?
The Fulbright is a prestigious fellowship for U.S. citizens with a GPA of 3.4 or higher that can send you to one of 155 countries for a year after you graduate. You can apply to be an English Teaching Assistant (ETA) or to conduct independent research or perhaps study at a university. Find out more at: http://us.fulbrightonline.org/about/fulbright-us-student-program.

2. What's the Fulbright mission?
As outlined by Senator Fulbright, the purpose of the program is threefold:

  1. To promote mutual understanding through a commitment to the free flow of ideas and people across national boundaries.
  2. To expand, through this understanding, the boundaries of human wisdom, empathy and perception.
  3. To create true and lasting world peace through cooperation in constructive activities among people of different nations.

3. Where can I apply?
Eligible countries are at http://us.fulbrightonline.org/countries/regions and the ETA options are at http://us.fulbrightonline.org/eta-program-charts. To see which countries are easier to win in (and which are hard to win in) go to the competition statistics at http://us.fulbrightonline.org/statistics.

4. How does Smith fare in the Fulbright program nationally?
Smith has for over a decade been a top-producing Fulbright institution, leading the nation in various competition categories. Our success rate (ratio of winners to applicants) is about triple the national average which means Smith students have an extraordinary chance to win one. Read more at www.smith.edu/fulbright/outstanding_ach.php.

5. How do I get started?
Do all the directed reading at www.smith.edu/fulbright/intro.php (including the links in the menu on the left). Then answer the Enquiry Questions. To get a general flavor of the program, Like us on Facebook and enjoy regular updates.

6. What if I don't know where to apply or what I might want to do?
The magic of the Smith program is you can go in blind and be led through a process that will unveil possibilities you would not have imagined. You cannot know if a Fulbright is for you until you have informed yourself fully about what the program offers — by completing the Enquiry Questions.

7. What have Smith students done in the past?
Smithies have done everything from teaching in Germany to doing research on tropical diseases in Malaysia. You can look at abstracts of winning proposals at www.smith.edu/fulbright/abstracts.php. We also have some stories posted on our Smith Fellow Field Reports page which can give you a better idea of what past winners have done.

8. When should I get started?
Now. It's never too early to start planning: www.smith.edu/fulbright/prep.php.
Though most of your application will be completed during Junior year, you need to start positioning yourself by studying a language, choosing your major, selecting courses and determining what you will be doing your Junior year. We can advise you on how to use Praxis, summers and J-term to gain valuable teaching and research experience to help formulate your proposal. You can also form a plan for how to gain proficiency in a foreign language and even apply for summer language fellowships.

9. What should I do to prepare to apply for a Fulbright?
You will need to become an expert in your field and develop the language skills you will need to carry out your project. For example, if you want to apply for a research Fulbright in Brazil to study the sustainability of small-scale farming, you will need to know Portuguese and gain experience conducting agricultural research. However, if you want to do an ETA in Morocco, you will need to become proficient in French or Arabic and gain experience teaching English. There are many ways to gain research and teaching experience as well as improve your language skills. The Fulbright Preparations page lists information on campus research opportunities and positions, summer language grants, local teaching placements and information on TESOL certification.

10. What type of support does the Smith Fulbright Program offer?
We work closely with every applicant from start to finish. After giving us your answers to the Enquiry Questions, if you are eligible, you will be introduced to the in-house Registration Level where we help you decide between a Research Project or an ETA. We will help you choose your country and design your project. Once this is set, you will be admitted into our Fellowships Program where you will be assigned a Faculty Fulbright Mentor. You will then outline your proposal, write and extensively revise your statements and application. In the process, you will seek support from a host of other professors and experts in your field and target country.

11. How do I reach the Fellowships Program?
The best way to contact the Fellowships Program and make appointments is via email. Donald Andrew, the college's Fellowships Adviser can be reached at dandrew@smith.edu. The Fellowships Program is located in the Class Deans' Office in College Hall.

12. What is expected of someone who is admitted into Smith's Fulbright Program?
Applying for a Fulbright is huge undertaking and a highly rewarding experience. We ask you to give each task your best effort and understand completing each step is part of a program that has made Smithies fare so well in the Fulbright competition. You will get the opportunity to reach out to professors, alumnae and experts in your field when crafting your application. When you meet with your Fellowships Adviser, mentors, advisors and consultants make sure to be polite and punctual. All your meetings are dress rehearsals to be a Fulbright Fellow representing the U.S. abroad, so let people know if you are running late, and pay attention to their comments and instructions.

13. How will I come up with my proposal?
You will work directly with the FPA, the Associate Fellowships Adviser and faculty to develop a feasible concept while simultaneously finding a country where you have the skills language needed to carry out your project. This is a time-consuming process. For research projects, you will go through many concepts with the FPA before you find one that is viable and can serve as the foundation to design your project. It's important to remember that not all topics are well-suited to the Fulbright. The Fulbright is first a diplomatic mission, second a research, study or teaching fellowship and as such some ideas dealing with advocacy, history, minorities, politics, religion, refugees, roots or sexuality may not be welcome in the host country. Unusually it is best to think of how you may get to know the people in your target country really well by exploring their culture, in the broadest sense. The best advice we can offer is to start early to make sure you have enough time to figure out a proposal that fits the Fulbright mission, your aspirations, your target country's needs and is feasible.

14. Can I apply for a Fulbright if I study abroad?
Absolutely! Many candidates studied abroad and made useful contacts with affiliates or gained teaching experience. Some students apply to countries they've already spent time in and many branch out to new places. It's important to contact us about your Fulbright aspirations before going abroad to a) ensure you use your time abroad in the most advantageous way and b) formulate a Fulbright plan because most of your application is completed as a Junior. Careful planning is necessary because you will not have the same access to Smith faculty to advise you. When you return to campus as a Senior it will be too late to start an application. Don't miss out!

15. Can I apply to the UK or the British Isles for a Fulbright or another fellowship such as the Rhodes?
Probably not. These fellowships are extremely competitive. A student must secure sponsorship through Smith College's Fellowship Program to obtain institutional endorsement to apply. To be considered a student must meet the criteria listed at www.smith.edu/fulbright/rhodes_elig.php The odds of receiving one of these high-stakes fellowships (UK Fulbright Study/Research Grant Open Awards applicants have a 1.4% chance of winning nationally) are very slim compared to other Fulbright options. For that reason, we generally encourage students to apply elsewhere.

16. Can alumnae apply through Smith?
Yes. We can accept qualified Smith alumnae who live close enough to attend at least three meetings at Smith in the fall. In certain circumstances, we may consider others who live farther afield and already have a developed, realistic idea what they want to do. If you cannot physically come to the college, you will have to complete your application by August 31 because the process will need to be conducted via Skype. If you are attending another U.S. institution and they have a FPA (Fulbright Program Advisor), you must apply through them.

17. What are the benefits of applying?
In accomplishing the Fulbright application process, all emerge winners in one way or another. All who complete the final product gain valuable new skills to navigate the wider world. Some of the invaluable life skills acquired during the fellowships application process: