PREPARING YOUR APPLICATION

There are many different components for any fellowship or scholarship application but two key pieces are your personal statement and letters of recommendation.


HELPFUL RESOURCES |
If you are having trouble getting started the Wesleyan Writing Workshop has many guides to writing and can connect you with other online sources. You can also meet with a writing tutor.

Other Online Resources:


WRITING A PERSONAL STATEMENT |
There is no single format or template for writing a successful personal statement. If you apply for multiple awards, you will write multiple versions since different organizations look for different qualities in their candidates. The statement is an intellectual autobiography that explains what drew you to your field of interest, what specific points in college shaped your intellectual trajectory, what you plan to do 5-10 years from now, and how this opportunity will help you get there. Your statement does not have to be entirely academic. Some candidates talk about influential family members or mentors; others emphasize academic experiences or community service. All successful personal statements feature a side of the candidate that a resume or transcript does not show -- you are more than an application.

Write, Edit, Revise and Rewrite

Getting started can be hard because it feels unnatural to write about your accomplishments but it is merely an introduction, and it's important that the reader truly knows who you are as an individual. A few helpful prompts to get you started:

  • Why are you applying for this fellowship? What is your passion and how does it connect to this fellowship? What have you done that reflects the fellowship criteria or purpose?

  • What are your ideal plans for the next 5-10 years?

  • Was there a significant life experience or moment that defines who you are? What do you care about most deeply? What matters to you? Why?

  • How would your closest friends/family/mentors describe you?

  • How have you spent your time in the past few years toward working to further this passion or dream?

Remember:

  • Do not write your personal statement in one sitting or even one week

  • Start early! It is essential -- early may means months in advance of the deadline

  • Drafts! You are going to write several very different draft versions before deciding which approach works best

  • Get critique and feedback! Those who know you well should be able to read your personal statement and recognize that only you could have written it, that it doesn't sound at all generic. People who don't know you well should be able to read your personal statement and conclude that they have never met anyone exactly like you.

  • Do not overwork your writing based off of these critiques -- your unique voice still needs to be heard

LETTERS OF RECOMMENDATION | Letters of recommendation are a critical piece of any fellowship application. As the applicant, it is important to prepare, plan and provide the most information that you are able to for a recommender.

  • Who should I ask?

    Not sure who to ask? Many fellowships are reflective of your academic experience, so it is best to ask faculty members, advisors and mentors as well as class deans or other administrators at Wesleyan. If a fellowship is more specific to teaching English abroad, related to public service or a specific subject area, it is useful to consider including a recommender that reflects one of those experiences.

    It is useful to ask recommenders who can reflect on different aspects of your experience and/or different aspects of the fellowship. Asking a recommender to focus on a specific component of the fellowship, of your experience or your academic interests allows the letter to provide a more clear vision of you as an individual or scholar.

     
  • When and How do I ask?

    Make an appointment at least a month in advance of the deadline to discuss why you are applying for this award and how it reflects your interests and goals. Tell potential recommenders why you have selected them. Provide information to remind them of the work you did under their supervision, as well as general information about the fellowship, and the current draft of your application. Seek their advice as you revise—these should be the people who know you best, and who can help you most.

    You may use this template as an icebreaker and this one to follow up with a potential reviewer.

    *You must be logged into WesPortal to access.

     
  • What if they say "no"?

    Be considerate of the responsibilities of a potential recommender. Ask each potential recommender if he or she can write the kind of letter you need. If a person seems reluctant after you have provided all relevant information, accept this and move on. If someone is too busy to write a detailed letter, or does not know you well enough, their letter may not strongly support your candidacy.

  • Follow up & Thank you

    Check to make sure the letter has been sent before the deadline, and give a gentle reminder as necessary. Please be certain to send thank-you emails (or thank you notes) after everything has been submitted.

  • Tips for Recommenders
    Writing letters of recommendation can be time consuming and rewarding. A few useful tips for faculty, staff and supervisors writing letters of recommendation can be found in this Inside Higher Education article.