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Application Tips

Becoming Competitive

Pay attention to each program’s eligibility requirements.
Nearly all fellowship programs require a strong record of academic achievement. Other eligibility requirements will vary, but many programs require some or all of the following: high cumulative GPA, U.S. citizenship or permanent-resident status, endorsement by university committee, strong standardized test scores, and a sustained record of community involvement or extracurricular leadership.

Focus on academic performance.
Be proactive in planning your course of studies ahead of time. Consult with your academic advisor to choose courses that will help you meet your goals. Keep your GPA up, and prepare thoroughly for any standardized tests you will need to take. Speak to others in your field who have taken such tests and ask for advice on preparing.

Seek out mentors and maintain relationships with them.
Get to know your professors and supervisors, and help them get to know you. Go to office hours, stay after class, discuss your ideas and goals, and ask for guidance. The strongest recommendations emerge from real and sustained relationships.

Get involved in extracurricular opportunities, especially during the summers.
Volunteer, intern, go on a service trip, seek out intriguing educational programs, or find ways to conduct independent research. Such experiences often lay the groundwork for prestigious awards applications. Start by browsing through our Summer Opportunities page. In addition, there are numerous volunteer opportunities through Fordham. The Center for Community Engaged Learning, Global Outreach, and Campus Ministry can point you toward opportunities to get involved.

Know the fellowship program inside and out.
Your application essays should demonstrate both that you understand the program’s mission and that your academic and professional goals correspond well with this mission. Each component of your application should be tailored to the program. Don’t borrow personal statements from other applications you may have done. The Office for Prestigious Fellowships can provide guidance on each program’s unique vision and application guidelines.

Stay current and informed.
This applies to both your field of study and to current events, especially those matters touching on the project you propose to undertake. Stay up-to-date with relevant current events in the United States and, if applicable, foreign countries where you hope to conduct research. Know the trends in your field, research the graduate programs, and find out who is conducting groundbreaking research.

Demonstrate your communication skills in your application.
Most applications will require at least one essay. Any written component of your application should answer the essay prompt and argue compellingly for your candidacy. Write clearly and concisely, avoid discipline-specific jargon, and correct any grammatical and mechanical errors. For fellowship programs that require personal interviews, your face-to-face interpersonal skills are crucial. Take this part of your application seriously and prepare accordingly. The Office for Prestigious Fellowships can provide feedback on your presentation skills.

Track your progress and keep records of everything you do.
Keep an ongoing record of all of your courses, extracurricular projects, and volunteer service assignments, as well as any special initiatives, research or internships you do. Update your resume periodically. This will come in handy when filling out application forms and considering topics for your personal statements. It will also help your recommenders as they write letters of support for your applications.