Are you interested in applying for a Fulbright U.S. Student grant and have questions about what it’s like to be a Fulbrighter in a particular country or field? Are you currently working on a Fulbright U.S. Student Program application? Are you a Fulbright Program Adviser (FPA) who would like a Fulbright alum to present on campus and share information about what’s involved in applying to Fulbright and what the experience is like in-country? Reach out to a Fulbright Alumni Ambassador!
The 2017 cohort of Fulbright Alumni Ambassador bios are now available on our website along with each ambassador’s contact information. We encourage prospective applicants and FPAs to contact Fulbright Alumni Ambassadors for tips, testimonial and advice – all throughout the academic year. Good luck!
University of Iowa Fulbright Program Adviser Karen Wachsmuth (fourth from left) at a University of Iowa Fulbright Student Organization Brown Bag lunch on Nov. 14, 2014
I have never been one to shy away from a challenge, but helping students devise the “right strategy” for applying for a Fulbright U.S. Student Program award has been a daunting task. As the Fulbright Program Adviser (FPA) at the University of Iowa, a Big Ten institution with more than 30,000 students, it’s my job to assist students in their quest for this unparalleled, life-transforming opportunity. As someone who chose the risky and highly competitive path of pursuing classical music as a career, I thrived on the concept of “following my passion.” Encouraging students to do the same comes easily to me. Although I immediately felt an affinity with the challenge of excellence that Fulbright represented, the “correct path” to a Fulbright award seems more elusive. The steps to a career in music–yes, “practice, practice, practice”–were well-defined and easy to grasp. But how does an applicant best prepare for a Fulbright? What are the most important criteria? By the end of my first Fulbright competition season, I felt slightly dazed. My mind was numbed by too many questions, just like the unfortunate character Meno being questioned by the “stingray-like” Socrates in Plato’s dialogue. I had completed the submission process, but was unsure as to whether or not I had been truly effective as an adviser.
The questions I had about my role as an FPA, which requires me to wear different hats, were many. To start with, Fulbright awards—teaching, research, study, creative work—come in all shapes and sizes, varying by country, language requirements, candidate profile, etc. How do I create awareness of these diverse and exciting Fulbright opportunities on my campus? How should I recruit the most appropriate applicants? What are the key steps in advising? What tools do I need to be more effective? What are the most important criteria for a successful application? And, without years of experience with the position coupled with some success, how can I know which strategies work? Lastly, how can I best encourage and support these ambitious students during the process?