From Start to Finish: 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 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 by the deadline.

DEADLINES: As an Amherst College Fulbright ETA applicant,
Your deadline for completing your application in time for internal review is September 9, 2024 at NOON.
Your deadline for submitting your application to the Fulbright program is October 7, 2024 at NOON

Your ideal timeline for completing the steps below is:
~ April/May:     Steps 1, 2, & 3: Explore Fulbright, meet with us, open an application
~ June/July:     Steps 4, 5 & 6: Reach out to recommenders & language evaluators; draft and revise your essays
~ August:          Steps 7 & 8: Write your short paragraphs; gather supporting documents
~ September:  Step 9 & 10: Lock application for campus review/interview (do not submit it)
~ October:        Step 11: Revise, proofread, then submit your application 

Step 1: Explore on your own

When you apply for an ETA grant, you have some choices to make about the destination country, the age group you'll teach, and language requirements, among other things. To explore on your own, use this award search database to learn what's available to you. (Not every country offers an ETA, and some countries have special requirements.) Clicking on the choices that come up will lead to detailed descriptions of the ETA role for each Fulbright country. You can also learn information that may factor into your country choice on the State Department website. Take notes! Once you've come up with a few options that look good to you, go on to Step 2.

Step 2: Explore & discuss with us!

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Office of Fellowships Logo

Explore with us, too! Talk with us about what you've learned on the Fulbright website. We can help you think through your top choices to decide which country to apply to. You can only apply for one Fulbright in any given year. If you have never met with anyone in the Office of Fellowships, Request an appointment.  If you have already met with us , send an email saying what you'd like to discuss and when you are currently available to meet! We'll respond as soon as we can.

Step 3: Begin the online application

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Fulbright Top Producer Logo

The Fulbright online application is where you'll tell Fulbright everything they need to know about you (biographical details, extracurricular activities, awards, travel history, work experience), upload your essays, and trigger recommendation and language evaluation requests. You can enter data, revise, and save and return as you go along. Remember to enter work and other activities you have done or will do up to October 2024 when they will read the application. Open the application as soon as you've decided to apply, and begin to fill things in.  Be sure to select the option that you are applying through Amherst College. Read the detailed "Instructions - Completing the Online Application" advice on the first page you come to. It will save you from making errors.  Work on the application throughout the summer so you don't have to do it all at once at the end. 

Step 4: Reach out to recommenders & evaluators

Reach out to three potential recommenders to explain your intentions and ask if they'd be willing to complete ETA recommendation forms about you. You can reach out 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 their recommendation until the deadline is nearer, but securing their willingness will reduce your stress when the deadline draws near. 

  • Whom to ask? At least one of your recommenders should be an Amherst 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.
  • What to tell them? Ask your recommenders to read our Fulbright Overview page so they understand what Fulbright is all about. Guide them to read the instructions For Recommenders at the bottom of the page. Remember - a traditional letter is not accepted. Instead, through an online form, Fulbright asks recommenders  questions aimed at assessing your ability to assistant/teach English in a different cultural setting and be a positive representative of the U.S.  Provide your writers a link to this sample ETA recommendation form and make sure they feel they can answer the questions fully and favorably. 

Reach out to one language evaluator, if needed or desired. If the country has recommended or required language competency, show them what you've got! The application will invite you to complete a Language Self-Evaluation. Do it, even if not required, if you have any skill in the language. It can only help you! If language skill is required, you will have to enter the contact information for a language evaluator. Ask someone who has taught you the language most recently. Send them the link to Instructions for Foreign Language Evaluators

After your recommenders or language evaluators have said "yes,"  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. Recommendations are due by your internal deadline. Language evaluations are desired by then, but if you can't get them until the final deadline, that's okay.
On to step 5!

Step 5: Write the Statement of Grant Purpose

Brainstorming: The Statement of Grant Purpose (SOGP) is one of two essays you'll write for the application. But before you start writing, you need to do some thinking! You can do that through this Pre-Draft Questionnaire for the ETA Statement of Grant Purpose. This tool will "prime the pump" - help you think about things you will want to say in your SOGP.  It will help you connect the ETA role for the country you've chosen with your experiences, skills, and creative ideas for teaching. 

As you think about bringing creative teaching ideas to the classroom, draw upon your own experience of language learning,  teaching or being taught, facilitating discussions, planning programming, making presentations, and so on.  You might also get ideas from the U.S. State Dept. American English website, or resources on your Fulbright country's grant page or the U.S. Embassy page for your destination country. You might also read essays from former AC Fulbright ETAs here to see what ideas they thought of. 

Once you submit the questionnaire, we'll read it and either invite you to discuss it, or send you an email suggesting you move on to drafting the essay.

Drafting: Write the first draft of your SOGP and and send it to one of the fellowships advisors as either a Google or Word doc.  In your first draft, you'll likely still be playing with ideas as to what to include. It's okay if this draft flows over the one page limit, or if it doesn't quite fill a page. As you gain clarity through subsequent drafts on what you want to say, work toward putting your essay into the required format. The version you upload to the application should follow the format below: 

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. turn your doc into a pdf before upload.

~ 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 electronic 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.

How many times can you expect to get feedback?  If you start early in the summer, you can expect at least two rounds of feedback. If you start later, it may be one or even none (if you start very late). Before sending an essay, be sure you've brought it to the best level you can. (We'll bring our A-game to reading it, too!)

Step 6: Write the Personal Statement

The second essay you will write is your Personal Statement. It is best tackled once you've gotten 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 You can also talk about your specific interests, career plans, and life goals as they relate to the Fulbright opportunity Obviously, you can't include everything. To see how others have chosen to present themselves, go back to the sample essays

There is no pre-draft form for this one! Write the first draft of your Personal Statement and and send it to one of the fellowships advisors as either a Google or Word doc. In your first draft, you'll likely still be playing with ideas as to what to include. It's okay if this draft flows over the one page limit, or if it doesn't quite fill a page. As you gain clarity through subsequent drafts on what you want to say, work toward putting your essay into the required format. The version you upload to the application should follow the format below: 

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. Turn your doc into a pdf before upload.

~ 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 electronic 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.

How many times can you expect to get feedback?  If you start early in the summer, you can expect at least two rounds of feedback. If you start later, it may be one or even none (if you start very late). Before sending an essay, be sure you've brought it to the best level you can. (We'll bring our A-game to reading it, too!)

Step 7: Write short paragraphs

In addition to the essays, Fulbright asks you to compose three short paragraphs in answer to specific questions or prompts. Unlike the essays, we cannot offer you feedback on these before the internal deadline. Do your best by using the advice and resources below. We'll give you feedback on them after the internal deadline. Here they are:

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? Think of this as explaining what you will do in your free, non-work time that will help you get to know  people in the host country. (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). 

The reviewers will likely read these paragraphs first to get oriented to who you are. They are an important part of the story you will tell about yourself.  Aim to be as specific and detailed as possible. Yes, it is okay to pull from your SOGP for your abstract. But rephrase rather than pasting and copying. Reading these portions of previous applications will help you get the idea. This  narrated PowerPoint slide show will also help you think through these questions: : Pulling it Together with Purpose: the Fulbright Application .

 

Step 8: Gather supporting documents

Send recommendation and language evaluation requests. Hopefully, you've already asked people to write these. Now is the time to trigger the requests in the online application portal if you have not already done so, and reminder your recommenders of our internal deadline, which is different from the Fulbright deadline they will see on the Fulbright program's own website. 

Request your official AC transcript and study abroad or transfer college transcripts now so you can upload 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 when you receive it, convert it to a readable (not secured) pdf. See Fulbright's instructions on requirements and how to upload. The numerical GPA you enter in the application should be the one listed on your transcript. 

For transfer or study abroad transcripts, follow instructions at the relevant institution for requesting an electronic version and convert and upload it as above.  

Got these docs ordered and uploaded? You're ready for Step 9!

Step 9: Check for accuracy and completion, then LOCK

  • 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. (You won't catch errors if you review the app on your phone.) Upload your essays as pdfs in the format required. Make sure there are no extraneous second or third pages. 
  • Check to see if your recs and language evals are in. If not, send gentle, polite reminders. (If they're really late, send howlers.) If you're waiting for a transcript, upload a placeholder doc with the name of the intended transcript on it so that you can lock the application for campus review. Same for the language evaluations.
  • Check to make sure your transcript is UN-secured.
  • LOCK the application by your internal deadline! Do NOT submit it. That's for after the campus interview. We will pull the version you've locked for the campus committee to review. Please do not make changes after we lock it until you've received committee feedback. 
    All done? Yippee! You're ready for Step 10!

Step 10: 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 if you're an alum)! 

After you submit your app, we'll send an invitation to schedule your 20-minute interview with the campus Fulbright ETA committee (made up of us and one or two education professionals at the College). Sign up for your interview slot and prepare to receive feedback and talk further about your interest in the Fulbright program, the country, and the ETA role.  

Step 11: Revise, proofread, and SUBMIT!

After your campus interview, we'll un-lock 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 submit the application by October 7th at NOON. This will give us time to attach your campus committee evaluation by OUR deadline!

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 8National 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/DECNational Screening Committees select applications to send to the host countries for consideration
BY JAN 31You 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 APRILU.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

 

Physical address: 100 Boltwood Avenue, Amherst, MA 01002

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