So you’ve decided to apply to a global award. Congratulations!
I recommend you follow these steps:
- Click on the link to the awards you are interested in, make note of the relevant deadlines and register for more information from the Office of Global Awards using the indicated Google Form (if listed).
- Take the time to carefully absorb the contents of the foundation’s website.
- Create a spreadsheet for yourself that lists what the application requires, and define the steps you need to take in order to obtain each item in advance of the deadlines. The Fulbright has a very helpful checklist that should give you some inspiration.
- Begin drafting your essay(s). I’ve designed some tools to get you started, to help you draft and re-draft, and to anticipate possible criticism. Please click on the links here for more information: FAQ's, Proposed Plan of Study Guidelines and Personal Statement Recommendations.
- I recommend beginning the online application form (if there is one) earlier than you think you need to. There are often questions that require short-answers that need to be drafted just as carefully as your personal statement. Knowing what the rest of the application asks for also helps you understand what should go in your personal statement. The order that your application will be read in will influence how you write your answers.
- Allow yourself the space and time to develop and refine your application. Print out a hard copy of the award criteria, along with any other relevant material. Read bios of past winners. Think carefully about what the key terms are, and how the foundation is defining them both implicitly and explicitly. What nuances are you starting to sense? How are you showing these criteria in your application (rather than just restating the key terms)? What stories are you telling that embody these values? It’s at this point that you might rethink your personal essay; a story you didn’t think about telling initially now might begin to make much more sense. You might realize that the award isn’t right for you or it makes much more sense for you than you initially anticipated. All of a sudden, a new possibility for your future opens up. You need to think creatively and self-reflectively. Allow yourself the liberty of changing your mind. Allow your application the chance to develop substantially.
- You need to identify and contact your recommenders, as well as gathering together any institutional documents like transcripts, language requirements etc. These requests often take time, so you need to plan ahead. Please read my Recommendation Guidelines.
- If you want help drafting your essays, you might consider the Writing Center at NYU. You can book a one-on-one appointment with a writing lecturer that lasts forty-five minutes. However, you must go prepared, with hardcopies of your drafts, along with the key award selection criteria, exact wording of the essay prompt and a copy of your application. The instructor needs to be able to see your draft in the full context of your application; they have substantial experience at the personal essay in general, but they don’t necessarily know the specifics of these awards.
When should I make an appointment?
I can’t wait to meet you, but there are some procedures you need to follow that will greatly enhance the results of our appointment together.
As of July 2014, NYU has almost 20,000 undergraduates. This office serves them all. With a population this size, I cannot micro-manage every student’s application. Indeed, I shouldn’t; this is about you, after all, rather than my vision of you. I need you to take responsibility for the development of your application. This means, essentially, not waiting for me to point out what needs work. You need to think for yourself, and extensively research the scholarship foundation online. For instance, the Mitchell requests you name three academic institutions and programs you would like to attend. If the draft of your personal statement only focuses on one university, then the time I spend with you will focused on pointing out what you could have addressed yourself, rather than working on the finer points of your application, the nitty-gritty that will help you stand out. My recommendation is that you make an appointment with me when you feel like you have really done the best you could do on your own. Ideally, this what you will have achieved:
- You will have begun the online application, and you will bring a printout of that application, along with a hard copy of the award’s selection criteria and other pieces of advice the award committee requires.
- You will have already reviewed your application with an eye to noticing how your application shows these criteria, rather than just restating them. (In other words, you will have tried to think like a selection committee member, who is going through hundreds of applications at speed.)
- You will have a draft of any the required essays: i.e. personal statement, proposed plan of study.
Of course, you may have specific questions about awards that you cannot find the answer to on their website. After consulting the FAQ’s here, please email me your question, explaining what resources you’ve already consulted and what you’ve found out so far and what remains unresolved.
I generally have office hours on Tuesday & Thursday afternoons. You can make an appointment by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your particular question / issue.
- Jenni Quilter, Director of Global Awards at NYU