“Applying for a Fulbright was one of the most challenging, yet rewarding experiences I have had at Oberlin. Receiving the Fulbright has made all of that hard work feel even more worthwhile, and has greatly expanded the scope of what I can see myself doing in the future.” —Dessane Cassell
Here's what alumni have to say:
Firstly, if I were to give a current group of students advice on fellowships, I would say that I cannot imagine a better place to apply than at Oberlin. The support that I received throughout the process was remarkable, and the advice that I received seemed very well-tailored to my personal strengths and my application. The benefits of applying for competitive fellowships in such an environment should not be taken lightly, and I think the experience of writing my application and receiving your feedback has greatly informed the way that I approve grant writing, job/school applications, and all other competitive processes today. —Sonia Roubini ’12
Applying for a fellowship gave me really good interviewing and job application skills and helped me think about my career more intentionally.
—Lucia Kalinosky ’12
I think [the fellowships application process] allowed me to articulate my interests and begin to think long term about career aspirations. . . . I also think having had letters of recommendation written is very valuable. I will try to maintain connections with those professors to enable me to use letters of recommendation from them again.
—Sylvia Woodmansee ’13
The process was very valuable as I was applying to grad school. I think my grad school applications were stronger as a result. And the interview process for the Hertz was great preparation for many things that have followed (from my honors defense at Oberlin to meetings with my adviser to defending my qualifying exam proposal).
—Ben Altheimer ’12
Several of my Fulbright friends and I have decided that this fellowship should be renamed “Funbright.”
—Leah Goldman ’13
How to Apply
As Ms. Cassell attests, applying to fellowships like Fulbright can be demanding, but the benefits are substantial; they accrue whether or not you win an award; and they can begin as early as your first year. While there is no single formula for success in awards competitions, planning ahead, thinking broadly and ambitiously about what is possible, and then drafting a feasible route to your goals in consultation with peers, advisors, and your extended network of support is a common formula for success.
Even when you change your mind, having taken a step or two with confidence can make it easier to move in another direction.
Academic excellence is required for most fellowships, and the breadth and quality of courses taken is as important as GPA. For instance, the guidelines for acceptance to Phi Beta Kappa, among the most recognized academic honor societies in America, might be a guideline:
• 85 percent of Oberlin courses taken for a letter grade (rather than P/NP)
• 3 full credit academic courses in each division taken at Oberlin for a letter grade
• 1 course in a language other than English at the 200-level or higher, or the equivalent, as a demonstration of intermediate-level competence in the language
What you do outside of class, during breaks, and over summers is at least as important as what you do in class for fellowships applications. Sometimes more so. Get involved and look for ways to have an impact.
Cultivate relationships with your professors, starting now, so that you can be ready to ask for letters of recommendation from profs by the beginning of application season.
• Make an appointment with the Career Center. Learn how to find and secure meaningful winter term and summer internship opportunities
• Join a student organization
• Select a community service project through the Bonner Center for Community-Engaged Learning, Teaching, and Research