How to Complete a Fulbright ETA Application

Applying for the Fulbright U.S. Student Program is a lengthy, but rewarding process involving many stages of review. Nearly a whole year will pass between the time you submit your application and the time your grant (if you win) begins. Even before you submit the application to Fulbright, you'll typically spend about 3-6 months planning for and preparing it. The Office of Fellowships advising staff (Christine and Eric) are here to help you navigate this process.

Follow the steps below and you'll be sure to produce an application that represents you authentically and favorably.
Our target for getting it all ready is the internal deadline of September 12, 2023 at NOON. Let's get going!

What to do & when to do it

Step 1: Explore on your own and with us

When you apply for an ETA grant, you have some choices to make  about the destination country, age group you'll teach, and language requirements. To explore on your own, use this award search database to learn what's out there and narrow down your options. Clicking on the choices that come up will lead to detailed descriptions of the ETA role for each Fulbright country. You can learn information that may factor into your country choice on the State Department websiteExplore with us, too! Talk with us to pick the best country for you. Request an appointment.    
Once you've decided on a country, you're ready for Step 2!

Step 2: Open an application

The Fulbright app asks you to enter a lot of information - biographical details, extracurricular activities, awards, travel history, work experience, and more. Open the application and begin to fill it in. You can enter data and save as you go. 

It also asks you to compose three short paragraphs you might think of as a why, a how, and a what:

Abstract/Summary of Proposal 
1. Why do you wish to be a Fulbright grantee and specifically teach English; why are you applying to this country, specifically? (1750 characters)

Host Country Engagement 
2. How will you get involved with your community outside the workplace and share your culture and values in the host community? (1750 characters)

Plans Upon Return to the U.S. 
3. What do you intend to do upon your return to the U.S. (career or educational plans) after the Fulbright? (850 characters). 

Some people wait until they've finished their essays to answer these questions. That's okay! But begin thinking about your answers now and draft some ideas in a separate doc. It will help you form the story of your application. Watch this powerpoint to help you think these questions through: Pulling it Together with Purpose: the Fulbright Application

If you have any language skills for your destination country at all, complete the language self-evaluation within the app. It can help your chances, even if it's not required! 

You'll work on Step 2 throughout the summer. Once you've started, you can move on to Step 3!

Step 3: Reach out to recommendation writers

Reach out to three potential recommendation writers to explain your intentions and ask if they'd be willing to write on your behalf. You can do this in person, over email, or on the phone. Ask early - at the end of the spring semester or beginning of the summer, if possible. They don't have to write it immediately, but knowing they've already agreed will reduce your stress when the deadline draws near. 

For the ETA, a traditional letter is not accepted. Instead, Fulbright poses five questions in an online form that try to get at your ability to assistant/teach English in a different cultural setting. When you ask people to write for you, show them this sample ETA recommendation form. For the ETA, at least one of your recommenders should be a faculty member. The others may also be faculty or work or internship supervisors, staff persons, coaches, or community leaders who know you well and have seen you doing teaching-related activities. Ask your recommenders to read our Fulbright Overview page so they understand what Fulbright is all about, and for info about the recommendation form.

After they've said "yes," you can then enter their names and contact info in the Fulbright online application. Trigger the recommendation request through the portal about four weeks before the internal deadline (or sooner, if they wish it). Recommenders often like to see your essays before they write, so it may be best to wait until August to trigger the request. Started that process? On to step 4!

Step 4: Develop your purpose - the SOGP

The Statement of Grant Purpose (SOGP) is one of two essays you'll write for the application. It is the first one the reviewers will read, so we think you should write it first. But before you start writing, you need to do some thinking! To help you do that, early in the summer (say, June) complete this Pre-Draft Questionnaire for the ETA Statement of Grant Purpose.

Once you submit it, we'll read it and tell you if there is anything you need to consider further before drafting the essay. 

Write the first draft of your SOGP in June/July and send it to Eric as a Google doc for feedback. He'll respond within a week. You'll revise and re-send until you both agree it is ready for internal submission. From the start, use the required format (below) so you know how much room you have to play with. 

As you think about bringing creative teaching ideas to the classroom, draw upon your own experience of language learning, or any kind of teaching, the U.S. State Dept. American English website, or resources on the Fulbright grant page or the U.S. Embassy page for your destination country. You might also read essays from former AC Fulbright ETAs here. On to Step 5!

Format

  • Length is limited to a maximum of one single-spaced page. The application system will not allow documents longer than one page to be uploaded.
  • Use 1-inch margins and Times New Roman 12-point font.
  • At the top of each page include:
    • On line 1: Statement of Grant Purpose
    • On line 2: Your Name, Host Country, and English Teaching Assistant Program
  • Do not include information in headers, footers, or margins.
  • Do not include links to websites or external files/materials. Adding any URLs to external websites may affect the eligibility of your application.

Step 5: Craft your story - the personal statement

The second essay you will write is your Personal Statement. It is best tackled once you've got the SOGP in good shape so that you don't repeat things you've already said. This essay is your chance to show the reviewers how you will represent the U.S. as a cultural ambassador from your own experience as a citizen, a student, a person. Draw from your personal history, family background, intellectual influences, educational, 

professional, and cultural opportunities (or lack of them), and how these experiences have affected you in order to introduce yourself and what you value to your readers․ Include your specific interests, career plans, and life goals, as they relate to the Fulbright opportunity․ To see how others have done this, go back to the sample essays

There is no pre-draft form for this one! As with the SOGP, write the Personal Statement draft as early in the summer as you can and send it to Eric as a Google doc for feedback. He'll respond  within a week. You'll revise and re-send until you both agree it is ready for internal submission. From the start, use the required format  below) so you know how much room you have to play. Got the essays in good shape? On to Step 6! 

Format: 

  • Length is limited to a maximum of one single-spaced pages. The application system will not allow documents longer than one page to be uploaded.
  • Use 1-inch margins and Times New Roman 12-point font.
  • At the top of each page include:
    • On line 1: Personal Statement
    • On line 2: Your Name, Host Country, and English Teaching Assistant Program
  • Do not include information in headers, footers, or margins.
  • Do not include links to websites or external files/materials. Adding any URLs to external websites may affect the eligibility of your application.

Step 6: Gather supporting documents

In addition to the recommendations, Fulbright wants to see other documents that attest to your academic qualifications, namely transcripts and (if required for your country) language evaluations.

Request your official AC transcript and study abroad or transfer college transcripts early enough to get them in the portal by the internal deadline. While Fulbright says they allow unofficial transcripts, because the name of the college must appear on it, AC students must use an official version. To aid you in this process, complete an “Electronic Transcript Request” and enter Eric Myers (ermyers@amherst.edu) as the recipient. Eric will convert the file to a Fulbright-approved format and send it to you to upload to your application following Fulbright's instructions on requirements and how to upload. The numerical GPA you enter in the application should be the one listed within Workday or on your transcript. 

For transfer or study abroad transcripts, follow instructions at the relevant institution for requesting an electronic version and have it sent to Eric as above. 

Request Language Evaluations from qualified instructors! Language evaluations are required for some countries. Even if not required, getting an evaluation is wise if you have any language skills at all for the country. Fulbright offers language evaluator instructions and a sample form here but instructors will complete an online form accessed through an email you trigger within the application. If your language evaluator is also a recommender, you must enter two distinct email addresses for the two requests. The language evaluation is desired by the AC internal deadline. 
See sample instructor evaluation form. Got these docs ordered and uploaded? You're ready for Step 7!

Step 7: Check for accuracy and completion, then submit

  • Proofread everything you've written for the application - short entries, small paragraphs, essays, language self-evaluations for typos. We suggest you print the app and read it out loud to yourself, word for word. (We promise you won't catch errors if you review the app on your phone.) Upload your essays.
  • Check to see if your recs and language evals are in. If not, send gentle, polite reminders. (If they're really late, send howlers. JK. But do remind them.) If you're waiting for a transcript, upload a placeholder doc with the name of the intended transcript on it.
  • Submit by the internal deadline! (No worries. We can unsubmit it at any time up until October 6th, and we will!)

    All done? Yippee! You're ready for Step 8!

Step 8: Join us for an interview

All Amherst College students will be endorsed to move forward to the Fulbright national competition. However, Fulbright asks us to conduct a campus interview and to write an evaluation of you as a candidate based on the interview and your written materials. We love this part! We get to talk to you in person or over Zoom! 

After you submit your app, we'll send an invitation to schedule your 20-minute interview. Sign up for your interview slot and prepare yourself for the conversation.  

What do we mean by prepare? Review your own application, and think about what more you can tell us. How are you learning more about the host country? Reading novels set there? Watching YouTube videos that ETAs there have made? Viewing movies set in the country? Reading about that region of the world in The Economist or other journals? Talking to classmates from there? Scouring newspapers from that country? Listening to native musicians? Get ready to bowl us over with all the ways you are trying to learn about this country even before you get there.

Step 9: Sprint to the finish!

After your campus interview, we'll un-submit your application in the portal and send you final suggestions for improvement. For this round of feedback, we'll address the essays again if needed, but mostly focus on those short paragraphs. If we have noticed them, we'll alert you to any typos. However, as this application represents YOU, well, then YOU should make sure your app is error-free! Revise and proofread one more time, then hit submit by Wednesday, October 4th at NOON. This will give us time to review it again and, if needed, return it to you if we find any errors.

As you are making your final revisions, we'll be writing your campus committee evaluation - our chance to highlight the skills and attributes that we think will make you and outstanding Fulbrighter. We'll attach those to your app in time for the final national Fulbright deadline of October 10th. (We don't like to leave things until the last minute. We respect your work too much to do that!)

What happens next?

The Fulbright process takes so long that we joke that people sometimes find out they won and forgot they even applied! After submitting, you wait, but wait actively! That is, be alert to the stages of selection and any emails you may receive from Fulbright. From here, they'll contact you directly about how you are faring in the competition. Tell us what you hear from them, as soon as you here it, so we can continue to support you.

STAGES OF NATIONAL SELECTION

OCT 10

National Deadline (5PM ET; you snooze, you lose)

MID OCT 

Applications are screened for technical errors (that's why it's important to proofread!) by the staff at IIE, then sent to that National Screening Committees, comprised of faculty members from all over the U.S.

NOV/DEC

National Screening Committees select applications to send to the host countries for consideration

BY JAN 31

You are notified by email of your status as a semi-finalist (app is sent forward to the host country) or not (application goes no further). 

JAN to APRIL

U.S. Embassy or Fulbright Commission staff along with interested partners in the country review your application. They may invite you for a Zoom interview. (If they do, tell us! We'll help you prepare.) By the end of April (countries notify at different times) you will receive an email telling you that you're a finalist (you've won the grant!) or not. Tell us what you here! We'll celebrate with you or offer a shoulder to cry on. Either way, we'll still be here to support you. 

Have questions? Please contact us.

Christine Overstreet, Director of Fellowships
212 Converse Hall
413-542-2536
coverstreet@amherst.edu

Eric Myers, Associate Director of Fellowships
213 Converse Hall
413-542-5079
ermyers@amherst.edu

Physical address: 100 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002

Mailing Address: AC #2214, PO Box 5000, Amherst, MA 01002