I just returned from Washington, DC, where I spent two days meeting with the Fulbright Scholar Regional Peer Review Committee. All Fulbright applications are reviewed first by peers in their respective disciplines and then are passed to regional committees.
Regional reviewers read each application and then write and submit online comments and recommendations. Then they convene in DC to discuss each applicant and decide which ones to recommend to the regional host countries.
The Balkans committee is comprised of five past grantees to the region, and each member serves on the committee for three years. This geographic region includes Albania, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia (FYROM), Montenegro, Serbia, and Slovenia.
Some of these countries receive a disproportionately high number of applications, while other countries receive comparatively few. Total number and distribution of application changes from year to year.
Tips to Fulbright Applicants
Disclaimer: These are McTier’s personal tips and should not be misconstrued in any way as “official” guidelines or recommendations.
- Do your homework: research your host country and prospective host universities well in advance.
- If and when you apply to a specific country, know why. Be sure that you have something specific and exceptional to offer that country and, in turn, that that country has something to offer you.
- Whenever possible, establish direct communication with a host university and faculty (college/department) to determine how you might meet their needs and complement their curriculum.
- If possible, share tangible evidence of that communication in your application, preferably with a letter of invitation outlining your anticipated plans. Even when not required, a detailed letter of invitation can enhance your application greatly.
- When you write your proposal, be as clear, specific, and reader-friendly as possible. Regional reviewers may not come from your discipline or be able to understand arcane vocabulary.
- Focus your proposal with respect to the advertised grant to demonstrate credibility, suitability, and feasibility.
- Do not discount the value of supporting documents: include your very best and most relevant syllabi as well as your best recommenders.
- If you have had a Fulbright grant in the past, write an even better proposal this time. Remember that preference is given to newcomers.
- There likely are many others applying for your same grant. What makes you and this proposal stand out in positive and promising ways? You are “selling” yourself and your proposal to US and international reviewers/committees.
- If you receive notice that you have been recommended, do not assume that you will get the grant. If you don’t, try again! (For what it’s worth, I submitted a credible but generic proposal four years ago and was recommended but not selected. Undaunted, I later submitted a specific and researched proposal that was recommended and selected.)