National Fellowships applications have many things in common. Almost all require essays such as personal statements and/or research proposals, a resume/CV, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and sometimes letters of invitation or affiliation from destination institutions. Many also require an interview. The components below are part of most fellowships applications, and the tips and instructions are generally applicable to all. For each fellowship, you will find details of the fellowship itself and the application by selecting the name of the fellowship in the menu to the left, under National Fellowships.
For applications with fall deadlines, plan to write and revise over the summer. Your best work will come with writing, reflection, and revision. Read the tips on Writing Fellowship Essays. Read samples of essays in Past Winning Applications written by successful Amherst applicants. (You must be logged in with your Amherst address to access this page.) Request feedback from the Director of Fellowships and others. (Note that for some fellowships, feedback is not allowed, so be sure to check the guidelines first.)
Some fellowships require you to enter resume information in their application form, but others invite you to upload two-page resumes or CVs. A fellowships application resume should include information about your education, including honors and prizes, as well as work, internship, and volunteer positions held in college (and before, if relevant), languages with proficiency noted, other skills pertaining to your field of study, and extracurricular activities. Format is important, too! Use the helpful information provided by the Career Center on resumes to produce a polished document. (Remember that the content guidelines at the Career Center are geared more toward jobs, and that for fellowships, a two-page resume is usually appropriate.)
Most fellowships require copies of your Amherst transcript and your study abroad or transfer institution courses and grades. Grades from other institutions are not printed on your Amherst transcript. Order official transcripts from other institutions at least a month before the preliminary deadline, and have them sent directly to the Office of Fellowships. Usually, it is best to order a hard copy, which you may then scan (both sides!) and upload to an application portal. Order your AC transcript through the Registrar's webpage.
Letters of Recommendation
It is both courteous and wise to request recommendations as far in advance as possible, and certainly a month before they are due. When deciding whom to ask, think carefully about what the foundation wants to know. For some applications, faculty are the best sources; for others, a work or activity supervisor may be able to provide crucial insight into your capabilities and character. Information for recommenders for each fellowship is included on the main overview page for that fellowship. Learn about Letters of Recommendation and how to request them.
For some fellowships supporting graduate study abroad, a letter of invitation from the department at the destination institution is required, especially if your degree program involves research. For some grants supporting independent research and travel, the foundation wants to see that you have support in country, and they require "affiliation letters" confirming that there are people in a university or other institution willing to support your work in some way. Acquiring these letters begins with inquries and often includes multiple conversations, which sometimes take months. Start early! Read about Establishing Affiliations Abroad.
Most preliminary applications include an on-campus interview with the Committee on Student Fellowships, lasting between 10 and 20 minutes. If you are off-campus, this can be conducted via Skype. Whether you are in person or will appear on a screen, come on time, well-groomed, and prepared to discuss your project and interests with the Committee. Bring a paper copy of your application in case they refer to something within it that you need to check. The interview is an important part of your application, as the Committee must assess your interpersonal skills and ability to "think on your feet" when they consider endorsing you. For endorsed candidates who become finalists in national competitions, there are usually interviews via video, Skype, or in person. These are sometimes day-long affairs and are quite demanding. If you reach this round, the Director of Fellowships will provide individual coaching, and arrange practice interviews with groups of faculty and others to help you prepare.
If you are applying to several fellowships at one time, you will need to be very organized. This application timeline will help you plan your work. The earlier you start, the more your application will represent your best self. Know that at any stage of the process, the Office of Fellowshps is ready to guide you.