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Faculty Resources

Identifying Candidates and Sharing Opportunities

Competitive fellowships and scholarships are generally seeking applicants who stand out academically or as researchers, as impactful leaders, with a particular commitment to service, or some combination of all three. If you know of such students, please send them to us! Please also encourage promising undergraduates to build their records in each of those categories, in ways that are relevant to their interests and goals.

To apply for fellowships, students need to know about them. Please spread the word to promising students who might be good fits for certain programs. Some students need to be told that they might be a good fit before they summon the courage to apply. You can provide that encouragement!

Our website breaks down opportunities into the following categories, with some overlap:

Writing Recommendation Letters

Most fellowships require recommendation letters from faculty or supervisors who have observed the applicants performing work relevant to the program. Recommendations are vital pieces of evidence in an applicant's argument that they are worthy of an award, so letter writers should take care in presenting the best possible case. The following general guidance applies to most fellowship programs:

  • Applicants should remind you why you are a good fit as a recommender, and they should provide you with basic details about the program, including due dates and any guidelines for recommenders. If you are uncertain, ask the applicant for more information or to chat about how their experience with you fits this program.
  • Letters should be tailored to specific opportunities. Pay special attention to the program’s purpose, values, and emphasized candidate characteristics. Stress the ways that your applicant meets these specific criteria.
  • When possible, tell stories. Avoid long lists of adjectives that are not supported by examples. Vivid stories that exemplify qualities desired by the program will have the most powerful effect.
  • Place the applicant in context relative to other students you’ve worked with. You can do this with percentiles or simply by pointing out ways that the student stood above their peers. Most programs want some indication that the applicant is special in some way.
  • Use the space provided. Letters that fall well short of the space allotted may be perceived as damning with faint praise.
  • Pay special attention to formatting requirements. 
    • Know if you are writing a letter or responding to a questionnaire.
    • Note limits on pages, words, or characters. 
    • For letters, use official letterhead and include a signature. 
  • Work with us! OSF is happy to review recommendation letters and provide developmental feedback to writers. This is actually a routine component of our programming for Fulbright, Marshall, Rhodes, Gates Cambridge, Knight Hennessy, Goldwater, Truman, and Udall.

Supporting Applicants

OSF offers the following opportunities for faculty to assist us in supporting fellowship applicants:

  • Volunteer for our Fulbright Campus Committee. We pair applicants with faculty mentors in mid-September to offer developmental feedback on full application drafts and to conduct the Fulbright campus interview.
  • Volunteer to assist with mock interviews. Several programs conduct interviews with applicants who advance to the semi-finalist or finalist stage. We often recruit faculty with relevant expertise to assist in practice interviews.