Top Pieces of Advice

  • Self-reflect.

    Take this opportunity to think about who you are and what you want out of your life. You'll get far more out of the process if you think of it as an opportunity to learn about yourself and clarify your goals rather than just as a way to get stuff (money, prestige).

  • Engage with the world beyond your classroom.

    Fellowship committees typically like students who are engaged with something outside of themselves. This might be engagement with the world at large, in the form of public service or outreach, or it might be engagement with the world of ideas, in the form of research and conference participation.

  • Do your homework on the organization to which you are applying.

    Review the program website thoroughly and find out what the organization values and what their goals are: Are they looking for students who plan to pursue a research career, are interested in public service, or want to promote understanding?

    Then try to demonstrate how you and your project fulfill those goals. Your goal is to convince the reviewing committee that an investment in you will advance the goals of the granting foundation.

  • Think of your application as a picture.

    Think of your application as a single unit that includes your essays; letters from your recommenders; and other supporting documents such as lists of activities and awards, your résumé, transcript, and recommendations. Think about the ways that the application as a whole paints a picture of you. Is it interesting? Does it sound like you? Does it sound like your best you?

  • Use each question to your advantage.

    Remember, the essay is the only piece of your application that you have complete control over. Happily, it also one of the most important pieces. See Writing Fellowships Essays.

  • Be honest, be yourself. But be your best self.

    The selection committee wants to know you, not a fabrication. Besides, you can't write effectively about anyone but yourself, so you might as well dig in and let them know what makes you you. Of course, your best you is what we're looking for here. You want to avoid both false modesty and bragging.

  • Manage your time effectively

    Fellowship applications tend to be long and complex. Start as early as you can and use the application timetable to help you keep all the pieces of your application organized and on track.

    Think about your upcoming semester as a whole — what will be your obligations in your classes and how much time will you need to prepare for those (papers, exams, projects)? How about your extra-curricular activities? Social and family obligations? Plan when and where you can carve out time to spend on your fellowship applications. If you are having trouble managing your time, contact the Drexel Learning Center for an appointment.

  • Get outside readers to review your applications and revise, revise, revise.

  • See also Asking for Letters of Recommendation, Tips for Writing Fellowships Essays and FAQ.